Thanks to a sizable anonymous gift, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has commenced a search for at least 10 new faculty members specializing in race, decolonization, and cultural representation. The job listings, which are accepting applicants through November 20, span fine arts, architecture, and design, though any candidates who can offer courses “that both expand and seek to decolonize and challenge traditional art and design curriculum and pedagogies” are encouraged to apply. “We seek faculty whose scholarship, creative practice, and research addresses the lives, experiences, and cultural traditions of Black, Indigenous, and communities of color,” the listing reads.
“In order to create a more racially just RISD, we must do more than simply combat racism where we find it,” RISD president Rosanne Somerson says of the new positions, which are scheduled to be filled by the fall 2021 semester. “We must be proactively anti-racist in principle and practice, and make consequential, scaled changes throughout the institution.” Somerson attended RISD as an undergraduate in the 1970s. An accomplished furniture designer whose work has been shown in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, she helped establish the school’s furniture design department in 1995, climbing the ranks to become provost in 2012 and eventually president in 2015.