The completed 2017 RISD Faculty Values Statement, all names of full and part time Faculty and Museum curators who signed in support of this statement and the formal Letter to our Student Community are preserved here.
In the summer of 2015 at the invitation of Provost Pradeep Sharma, several faculty members gathered and were involved in identifying and discussing what we considered to be the key issues at RISD that the faculty and administration could take on through existing committees and governance structures. One issue we examined was the feeling that RISD as an institution needs to do more to publicly engage and lead on social issues--to “take a position” on key concerns, but to also take a lead in public debates on art and design.
Given the tone and tumult surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the impact it was having on our academic community, the full-time faculty revisited the idea of social engagement at its March 2017 Faculty Congress, starting the discussion with the following prompts:
The RISD Archives recently received an inquiry from members of a RISD student organization seeking historic materials related to student protests: “Given the current US political climate and increased student interest in learning about our government and creating work that is civically active, we are interested in looking at student work that is politically active.”
The Faculty Steering Committee requests that you, the Faculty, consider a related set of questions and come to the Faculty Congress ready to share and discuss your thoughts on these matters.
Given the current US political climate:
1) Does the RISD Faculty, as a collective body of artists, designers, scholars, and teachers, wish to express any thoughts or sentiments regarding US government policies (recent, pending, predicted, or promised) or recent events?
2) If so, what forms would the expression of a collective statement(s) take?
3) Who is the intended audience for any statement or expression? What are the appropriate forums for dissemination?
4) Does the RISD Faculty have a unique platform or any particular influence that should be considered and employed when it comes to matters of civics and politics? Is this a “teaching (and learning) moment”?
From our discussions we determined that the faculty were greatly in favor of public engagement and most importantly, for assuring our students that we support them during this time of political and social turmoil.
We agreed to draft a statement of values for wider dissemination, an idea that was subsequently endorsed by President Rosanne Somerson and Provost Pradeep Sharma. A first iteration of the statement was shared with U.S. Senator Jack Reed at a Cultural Conversation, organized by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), on March 17, 2017. The statement was further refined and designed with help from several faculty volunteers.
The full-time faculty voted in favor of the finished values statement and several part-time faculty and RISD Museum curators have signed on as supporters. We intend that this statement will remain relevant beyond the current political moment and encourage its wider distribution—both at RISD and beyond. It has been shared via e-mail with RISD students.
Faculty Steering Committee Chair, 2016-17
Rhode Island School of Design
After thoughtful consideration and refinement of the 2017 RISD Faculty Values Statement, the full-time faculty, several part-time faculty and RISD Museum curators voted in favor of its contents and have signed on as supporters. We intend that this statement will remain relevant beyond the current political moment and encourage its wider distribution—both at RISD and beyond.
Rhode Island School of Design
An end of the year letter from the RISD faculty sent to RISD students reaffirming their support of the students, acknowledging the challenges of this past academic year in light of the current social and political turmoil and sharing the RISD Faculty Values Statement.