"Be Heard" t-shirts were a popular item at the student townhall

A student holds a “Be Heard” t-shirt at a town hall.

Diversity has long been a central value at the core of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and for its students, faculty and staff. Now, as part of its new Stamps Curricular Initiative, the school is developing a diversity-related curriculum to better reflect that value.

As part of the universitywide five-year diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan, the Stamps School received funding from the Office of the Provost to create new grants for faculty to revise their existing courses, or propose new ones that focus on DE&I-related curriculum development.

Irina Aristarkhova, associate professor of art and design, is leading the implementation of the unit’s DE&I strategic plan.

She is working with the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching to conduct workshops so faculty can get ideas on how a class syllabus — including content, pedagogy, assignments, guest visitors and such — could be revised and what new courses they might be interested in creating. She also is working on a call for proposals for the grants for faculty, using ideas taken from the workshop.

“I am also meeting with students to hear what they think is needed in our curriculum. For example, based on our discussion with students, they expressed a need for a course that would focus on making creative work in relation to current affairs,” says Aristarkhova, who also is a professor of women’s studies and history of art in LSA.

“Currently, such work is spread across various classes and it depends on an instructor whether they offer this option or not, but students want a class that solely focuses on this, and I hope we can offer a class like this next year.”

Proposals will be considered by two current faculty committees for undergraduate and graduate programs, and funding will be awarded following the recommendations of the committees.

Additionally, as part of its plan, Stamps has ensured it will continue its best practices as it pertains to recruitment of faculty and staff. Specifically, Aristarkhova says she and the DE&I advisory committee at Stamps will monitor how job announcements are written and where they are advertised, with a goal of attracting a diverse pool of candidates.

“This new universitywide initiative enabled us to consolidate our previous strategies, identify, more systematically, what has worked well and where we need to do better, and compare ourselves to other schools, colleges and units on campus,” Aristarkhova says.

“We now have a visible public face related to the efforts we have already implemented and new ones we plan to implement. Working with CRLT towards formulating the best DE&I practices is very exciting. Supporting students’ efforts to make Stamps more inclusive for all students is very exciting.”

See the Stamps DE&I plan here: stamps.umich.edu/about/dei.


By Jeremy Allen
Public Affairs