Our Commitment to Justice and Inclusive Communities

The faculty, staff, and students in Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning (SCaRP) have been deeply shocked and saddened by the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and more recently Rayshard Brooks here in Atlanta. These incidents, along with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga. and other violence inflicted on the Black community across the country, acutely highlights the injustices that Black citizens and people of color continue to face in this country and elsewhere. The worldwide protests against racial injustice that ensued remind us of the systemic racism that undergirds the foundation of American society and its insidious impacts, especially on cities.

Equity, justice, and inclusive communities are principles that form the core of the planning discipline. These principles are the fundamental lens through which we view planning issues and engage in planning practice. We acknowledge that planning has not done enough to dismantle the inequities in our communities and cities. Urban planning has played a key role in institutions that promote racial inequality, including urban renewal, exclusionary zoning, and in the current moment, public investment which results in gentrification and displacement rather than promoting values of inclusion and justice. As planners, our work is deeply entwined with institutions that can either promote or dismantle racial inequality. We choose the latter. We embrace the equity and justice serving principles at the core of the planning discipline. We will actualize them to promote just, anti-racist societies and to undo the values of white supremacy at the root of racism. 

At SCaRP, our commitment to justice and inclusive communities is a critical part of our mission and values. Our recently adopted Strategic Plan includes two goals that seek to expand diversity and inclusiveness in our faculty, staff, and student body. This plan commits us to create an environment that nurtures, respects, and celebrates diverse voices and experiences. But we also realize that, as a community, we must do more to prepare new generations of planners for their roles in bringing about inclusive communities that are just, healthy, sustainable, and resilient. 

We are proud of our students who have taken the lead in sparking this new round of discussion and introspection among the SCaRP community. The Student Planning Association at SCaRP has made a strong statement about systemic racism and the role of planning to promote change. Going forward, we are committing ourselves to ensuring that, as a school, we find ways to do more to advance social and racial justice. Below are some specific plans that we will pursue.

Specific Plans

  1. Offer a 1-credit short course each year on equity, justice, and place (starting fall 2020). The course will include several instructors from different domains of practice.  This course will enable students to: 
    • Share their personal understanding of the relationship between post-Civil War Southern responses to integration and present day inequalities
    • Explain the role of Jim Crow, lynching, and segregation in the community and economic development of the South
    • Identify planning skills and capacities valuable for acting to redress that history
    • Reflect critically on their role as planners, and the impact of conceptions of equity and justice in place-based work
  2. Design internship opportunities for students to serve underserved communities in the Atlanta Metro region. Such internships will also involve engaging K-12 students in these communities and discussing the role of city planning in advancing equitable and just communities.
  3. Increase financial aid for Black students and students of color. Start a fellowship targeted to such students through development opportunities. These and other strategies will advance SCaRP’s aspiration to be among the foremost institutions that graduate Black students and students of color.
  4. Reassess curriculum to make equity and justice a cross-cutting theme in almost all classes. In addition, MCRP curriculum committee will consider whether a focus or specialization area in “Equity and Justice” might be a potential attractive option for students.
  5. Re-establish the Diversity Committee (including faculty, staff, and students) that will advise the Chair and the faculty on strategic objectives and directions to expand our efforts to nurture an inclusive environment and bring more voices to planning. This committee will advise the chair regularly about status, opportunities, and bottlenecks in advancing diversity in SCaRP. It will also provide an annual report to SCaRP documenting progress and proposing strategies for consideration by the faculty and the Chair.
  6. Invite scholars and practitioners, especially those who are from Black or minority communities, to campus to participate in symposia and lectures on social justice, equity, and planning. 
  7. Step up efforts to recruit faculty and students from Black and other underrepresented communities.


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