Seasons Greetings from RISD Global

Posted: December 23, 2020

Dear Friends, Colleagues & Partners,

What a truly GLOBAL year this has been! In March, when we welcomed our students back – 3 months early – from our site and program in Rome, we simply could not have imagined how much all of our lives and programs would pivot, shift, and change.

We are so grateful to that cohort of students (as well as the 100+ RISD students whose global learning experiences have been impacted by the pandemic!) for their collaboration in a deeply uncertain global moment. Showing incredible resilience, these students went on to process this novel experience through work under the guidance of their faculty leader, Anne Tate, and our Resident Director and art history faculty in Rome, Ezio Genovesi. This site documents the final work of those students; you will see that many took the EHP lessons of sited-inquiry and place-based practice with them as they moved from Rome, to Providence, and eventually home within one semester.

This year also saw two incredible groups -risdARC and a group of BIPoC faculty- mobilize to share perspectives and experiences to guide us all towards the urgency of creating programs and policies to ensure RISD is anti-racist and dedicated to the decolonization of the curriculum, pedagogies, and the School-at-large. As part of the demands, RISD Global was called to examine the geographies in which we center global academic engagements with a commitment to an increase in exchanges with peers across the Global South.

This is work we -in RISD Global- are deeply committed to; at that time, we were already midway through crafting our new strategic directions to align with the School’s NEXT strategic plan and specifically those aspects dedicated to increasing social equity, inclusion and diversity at RISD. The risdARC and BIPOC faculty demands made us take pause and return to our planned strategic directions to focus primarily on those that support and further anti-racism and decolonization within the field of international education. We are still in this process and we look forward to sharing more on this in early 2021!

In the meantime, and as part of this work and set of commitments, we joined Diversity Abroad, which is a leading membership network founded in ‘06 and dedicated to advancing racial equity, diversity and inclusion in international education and cultural exchange. Our goals for participation in this network are to better support BIPoC students and faculty at RISD, and our partners schools, to engage fully with global academic engagements, while furthering the office’s goals for anti-racism and decolonization.

And, finally, we have dedicated much energy to preparing for our inevitable return to RISD academic sponsored travel, off-campus programs. As part of this work, we have pivoted all of our advising to virtual platforms and made a commitment to meet students within their time zone. We have created a partnership with International SoS (iSoS); iSoS are global leaders in student and faculty-facing services to support health and well-being during travel and off-campus global programs. And, we worked with external consultants to develop a very solid plan (vis-a-vis COVID) to guide us in our eventual return to offering off-campus global learning opportunities and experiences. We are, right now, looking with hope towards summer 2021 -for either on-site or virtual global learning courses- and also towards Fall 2021. More information on that in early 2021.

After this unprecedented year across the world, RISD Global is excited to come back stronger in 2021. We look forward to connecting with RISD colleagues and partners to imagine together new formats of connecting globally for the benefit of all students. In the meantime, we wish you all rest, calm, and peace during what will be a highly unusual holiday season across the globe.

RISD Global (Gwen, Valeria & Gillian)