Session 3: Equity + leadership

Make a Difference: Advancing a Community Design Practice

The AIA defines “citizen architect” as a practitioner serving in the public realm. This practice is positioned outside of traditional architecture practice and engages those who bring a strong desire to engage in meaningful work within the profession. Often these are practitioners who are moving beyond the status quo, exploring new models of engagement and driven by personal values of making a difference. How might we support practitioners who are ready to be the change-makers and problem-solvers of our society? What might an architectural practice with an equity lens look like?

This session will provide an overview of the state of community-based practice, personal experiences that have drawn practitioners to this practice, and a response of bringing equity into architectural practice. The speakers will present a case study where a group of interdisciplinary practitioners have convened to seek professional development informed by years of experience in community design projects, volunteer management, and educational programming, towards deeper and experiential learning.

This session will outline strategies for value-driven work, review how architecture and development firms can be involved, present guiding values in equity-focused practice and interdisciplinary approaches. Framed in the context of community-based practice, we will discuss professional development opportunities for those who wish to gain more experience in deeply reflective and inclusive design processes. In addition, we will workshop strategies to identify how we might bring equity and self-reflection into the design process.

 Learning Objectives Include:

  1. Learn new approaches to community based design with the lens of equity and process of deep empathy

  2. Learn the distinction between pro-bono projects and relationship-based partnerships for long term change.

  3. Discuss the importance of self-reflection and identity awareness in community-based practice.

  4. Discover how interdisciplinary programs contribute and broaden a worldview, and the value of centering personal-lived experiences to disrupt power dynamics in teamwork and decision-making for more equitable outcomes and sustainable results.




Speaker spotlight:

Shalini Agrawal
Co-founder, Pathways to Equity
Associate Professor, California College of the Arts