Center for Social Equity & Inclusion

The work of cultivating a genuinely diverse and inclusive institution, defined by equality of access and opportunity, requires both centralized leadership and a strong and coherent vision for coordinating the different components of our plan at the macro and micro levels.


The Center of SEI’s mission is to foster a more inclusive and equitable institutional culture, and an engaged, locally-and-globally-conscious campus community. The critical examination and redress of structures of domination and the systems that entrench and naturalize them – institutions, forms of knowledge, practices, and beliefs – is fundamental to this endeavour. To that end, the Center for SEI supports a variety of cross-institutional initiatives (including an in-house Teaching and Learning Lab) that aim to promote inquiry, research, and innovative creative and scholarly contributions to social equity and inclusion on our campus and beyond.

Leadership and Staff

The Center for Social Equity & Inclusion is located at 293 S. Main Street and is currently led by RISD's inaugural Associate Provost for SEI, Matthew Shenoda, who is charged with guiding and coordinating institution-wide efforts aimed at making our community more diverse and welcoming of differences, and ensuring that all students, faculty, and staff have the access, opportunity and support they need to benefit fully from the RISD experience. Provost Shenoda works alongside the Dean of Faculty, Patricia Barbeito who oversees the Teaching & Learning Lab within the Center for SEI.


For general inquiries about the Center for SEI and related programming contact:
Alice Geoffrey, Center for SEI Coordinator and Administrative Assistant:

For faculty search related questions and faculty development inquiries contact:
Justine Bubar, Recruitment and Development Coordinator:

Center for SEI Overview

The Center for SEI supports various initiatives aimed at engaging and addressing issues of social equity and inclusion on our campus and serves as a central hub for cross-institutional collaboration for faculty-centered initiatives.

The Center for SEI supports:

  • Academic departments’ SEI Action Plans.
  • Various programs (including internal grants) for faculty research related to SEI.
  • SEI Faculty Fellows Program.
  • An ongoing series of workshops and public lectures by renowned artists and scholars including RISD’s annual MLK Keynote Lecture and Indigenous Arts Series.
  • Development of Executive Ed and Continuing Ed modules for ongoing training in Diversity and Inclusion in Art and Design education.

Teaching and Learning Lab


Housed within the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion, RISD’s Teaching and Learning Lab supports inclusive and innovative curricula and pedagogies by promoting a culture of reflective teaching and ongoing faculty development. Our aim is to archive and share educational innovation and experimentation and provide opportunities for collectively addressing pressing issues in the classroom so as to foster cross-institutional collaboration and dialogue.

The Teaching and Learning Lab supports:

  • Diversification of the curriculum by engaging non-western and historically marginalized cultures and histories
  • Decolonization of the curriculum by exploring the ways in which institutionalized knowledge is shaped by systemic power hierarchies, and/or engaging marginalized and indigenous forms of knowledge
  • Inclusivity by exploring pedagogies and practices that meaningfully engage a diverse range of students and thereby help them thrive.
  • Archiving and sharing of resources—readings, syllabi, hand-outs—necessary for building such curricula
  • SEI research cultures, including other salient issues in art and design education in the 21st century.
  • Innovative interdisciplinary teaching by fostering dialogue about successful models used in collaborative travel, Kyobo, and Academic Enrichment funded courses..
  • Inclusive critique models.
  • Ongoing faculty mentoring and development.
  • Community-based learning.
  • Co-curricular engagement with our Office of Intercultural Student Engagement and other institutional partners.

Who We Serve:

Our programs and resources are available to all members of our community who are teaching or interested in further development in these areas.

Major initiatives and programming for the 2019-2020 academic year:

  • The “Decolonial Teaching in Action” program provides faculty-taught semester-long courses for faculty that focus on the theory and practice of decolonial curricula and inclusive teaching.
  • Our workshop schedule provides ongoing and accessible opportunities to address central concerns in the RISD classroom.
  • Mentoring Communities bring together new and established faculty

We also offer:

  • Confidential consultations – classroom observations and consultations on inclusive teaching and curricula.
  • A resource library open to the RISD community.

Institutional Partners:

Office of Intercultural Student Engagement

Center for Arts and Language

RISD Global

RISD Museum

* For SEI-related conference and presentation, research and creative and scholarly project, and programming funding, please refer to the SEI and Academic Affairs “Grants and Funding” pages.

Center for SEI Fellows Program

The Center for Social Equity and Inclusion houses both an SEI Research Fellows Program and a Diversity Fellows Program.

The SEI Research Fellows Program hosts scholars who teach across RISD's curriculum and focus on a research project that advances issues of social equity and inclusion in their respective fields.

2019-20 SEI Research Fellow:

Christopher Roberts earned a PhD in Africology and African American Studies from Temple University, and an MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University. He examines Black geographies of memory and forgetting, with an emphasis on port cities in the United States that anchored the transatlantic and domestic slave trades. His current manuscript project proposes an alternative episteme through which we can unsettle the antiblackness and geographic imperialism inherent in the monumental landscape of the United States via robust archival, field, and digital humanities research that analyzes Confederate monuments and African burial grounds in the U.S. American South. Prior to teaching at RISD, he taught at Brown University, where he was the Artemis A.W. and Martha Joukowsky Postdoctoral Fellow at The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Before that, he taught at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey and Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In addition to his career in academia, he spent ten years as a museum professional working in educational programming and tour design at The Betti Ono Gallery in Oakland, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore. While in Oakland, he worked as a Poet Mentor in Bay Area public schools for the organization Youth Speaks Inc. He has also worked as a spoken word artist, having performed his poetry in cities across the United States, and from 2007 - 2011 he hosted an open-mic poetry event in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.

The Diversity Fellows Program hosts annual artist-in-residence positions that focus on issues of equity, inclusion and diversity in contemporary creative practice.

2019-20 Diversity Fellow:

Rene Payne 83 GD is contributing her wide-ranging talents by developing collateral for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Series, designing a large-format book to share the visual stories generated through the longstanding RISDiversity: Community Narratives Project and teaching a Wintersession course called Art for Social Justice.