Design for Freedom Collaborates with More than a Dozen Universities to Educate Future Leaders on Ethical Building Supply Chains

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“The academy has a critical responsibility to ensure the next cadre of industry professionals are prepared to innovate and enact achievable solutions that are committed to creating an ethical future.” —Frances Bronet, President, Pratt Institute, Design for Freedom report

Recognizing that lasting change will be driven by generations to come, Sharon Prince and members of the Design for Freedom Working Group continue to organize and facilitate a series of symposia, lectures, and classes at prominent architecture schools, colleges, universities, and international cultural gatherings. Within a short time of gathering more than 80 global leaders to commit to eliminate forced labor from the built environment, Sharon Prince, and members of the Working Group have rolled out a high-level awareness campaign. To date, they have spoken to more than a dozen higher educational institutions, including Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, the Cooper Union, Cornell University, the University of Southern California, the Illinois Institute of Technology, among many others.

Students in schools around the country are learning more about how pervasive forced labor is in the building materials supply chain, and what the architecture, engineering, design, and construction industries can do to mitigate the risks.

Pratt Institute: In October, Grace Farms Foundation and Pratt Institute joined global experts and leaders for Extract + Repair, a day-long workshop at the Venice Biennale 2021, one of the most prestigious cultural festivals in the world. They examined the link between how we mine materials that we build with, the environmental and social degradation that often follows, and how we must take reparative action and respond to the climate crisis.

Yale University’s first of its kind dedicated class to forced labor in building materials: Yale School of Architecture and Law School’s Fighting Slavery in the Building Supply Chain, was conceived in response to Design for Freedom with Dean Deborah Berke and launched in the fall of 2020. Led by Associate Dean Phil Bernstein and Yale Fellow and Senior Advisor to Grace Farms, Fmr. Amb. Luis C.deBaca.  The class was supported by Grace Farms Foundation. A joint class between Yale School of Architecture and the University of Michigan Law School is also underway and will continue in the spring of 2022 with support from the Starvos Niarchos Foundation. Similar classes will be launched in the future at the University of Washington and elsewhere.

University of Pennsylvania’s Architecture, Forced Labor and Urban Migration Project: As a part of a Working Group at UPENN on architecture, forced labor, and urban migration, Grace Farms presented Design for Freedom and also participated in discussions to identify barriers faced by architecture, engineering, and construction professionals in identifying forced labor in material supply chains and on building site. The discussion identified opportunities, best practices, and presented case studies for increasing the voices of those who labor in questionable circumstances in the building industry.

Academic partnerships and Working Group members that are also faculty and administrators from these leading institutions, are an integral part of the work to eliminate forced labor from our building materials supply chains.

Collaborating Colleges, Universities, and Working Group Members 
  • The Cooper Union – Nat Oppenheimer
  • Cornell University – Florian Idenburg
  • IE Business School – Patricia Saldana Natke
  • Illinois Institute of Technology – Patricia Saldana Natke, Dirk Denison, and Ron Henderson
  • The New School Parsons – Claire Weisz
  • New York University Stern School of Business – Michael Posner
  • Pratt Institute – Dr. Harriett Harriss and Dr. Frances Bronet
  • Princeton University – Nat Oppenheimer
  • University of Hartford – Michael Crosby and Julie Chen
  • University of Maryland – Dr. Meredith Gore
  • University of Michigan Law School – Luis C.deBaca
  • University of Pennsylvania – Franca Trubiano
  • University of Southern California – Luciana Varkula
  • University of Washington – Susan Jones and Dr. Sam Wasserman
  • Yale University – Deborah Berke, Phil Bernstein, and Luis C.deBaca