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Task Groups: Rationale, Research + Scopes

Each Task Group was asked to draft and submit their rationale, research and scope on February 10. This page highlights the work of these Task Groups. You can download a single PDF of all Task Group Deliverable #1 documents here.

Strategic Planning Task Groups

Contact: Kate Simonen (

Rationale (What does your topic mean for CBE and our stakeholders? What is CBE doing currently? Why do we care?)

Unprecedented environmental, economic and social changes are predicted over the coming decades. These changes can happen by default, disruption or design. We have a unique window of opportunity – now is the time to act decisively in order to ensure that our students, College, University, State and partners in research around the world are prepared to respond effectively to an uncertain future. The need for urgent action is clear; in order to meet global climate targets we need to reduce emissions globally by 50 percent in the next ten years, and reach net zero emissions–the point at which any remaining emissions can be removed from the air–by 2050 [1]. Buildings are responsible for about half of these emissions [2], cities and their associated physical and energy infrastructure for nearly 75 percent [3], and systemic changes will be required in order for construction, buildings, cities and landscapes to decarbonize. We need to simultaneously ensure that these transitions support increased equity and opportunity for all.

We envision a College of Built Environments (CBE) recognized as a center of climate action enabling collaboration between disciplines, the University, professional industry and the State such that the region becomes a model for how to meet global climate targets while enhancing equity, social and biological diversity and delight. We in the CBE at the University of Washington have unique capacities and significant ethical responsibility to lead towards a beautiful, equitable and sustainable future. Our research touches communities and supports cities around the world as they embark on their own journey toward sustainability. We can inspire and enable creative and bold solutions to complex challenges if we face them with optimism, resilience, collaboration, and rigor.

Research: (Summarize your research and community outreach. What did you learn? What is important to our stakeholders?)

The scientific community, represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, states with certainty that global average temperatures are rising due to greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have reached levels unprecedented in an empirical record of the Earth’s atmosphere reaching back 800,000 years.[4] At the time of writing, global average temperatures have already risen by 1 degree Celsius, and forecasts of business-as-usual emissions portend temperatures that bring catastrophic change for people and the ecosystems on which we depend. Expressed as a global carbon budget,[5] the goal of limiting the rise of global average temperature to 2 degrees or less, set in the Paris Agreement of 2015 [6], allows parties around the world to realize that temperatures rise with each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, and will continue to do so until those emissions end. To meet this goal, emissions will have to be reduced by 2050 to only those for which carbon can be reliably sequestered from the atmosphere. Considering that rates of global greenhouse gas emissions have yet to peak, the United Nations Environment Programme [1] notes that humanity may well overshoot our global carbon budget, placing us in aggressive pursuit of practices for a carbon negative outcome in order to stabilize temperatures at 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels (pre-1880).

To transition away from the activities and infrastructure that generate emissions requires concerted research, education, and public action in fields that are found within the CBE at the University of Washington. Our academic disciplines are focused on land use, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities, all implicated in the problem and in search of solutions. CBE has the expertise to be a source of solutions for our campus, city, region, nation, and world.

Rising temperatures release energy into the planet’s atmospheric and hydrologic systems with cascading effect on the biophysical world. The scientific community has defined relationships between emissions, warming, and climate variability, with increasing certainty, and is rapidly determining the extent of impacts that accompany these changes, such as sea level rise, flood, drought, wildfire, extreme storms, and the breakdown of biophysical features, such as permafrost, that further accelerate warming by releasing stores of methane from the seas and soils.[4] These shifts, which carry more energy and afflict more damage on built and natural systems, multiply existing threats to social, economic, and environmental systems. Scientists today are in a race to document the myriad effects, numbering among them species extinctions, food shortages, water crises, community displacement, exacerbated economic inequality, conflict over resources, desertification, and ecosystem collapse.[7]

To become resilient in the face of these acute and chronic stressors requires research, education, and public action, on the part of the disciplines found in the CBE at the University of Washington.  Urban design and planning, real estate, architecture, landscape architecture, and construction management have the collective capacity to reshape the elements of human settlement to be robust to the hazards that come, and to enhance the sustainability of human endeavors and the ecosystems we share with a biodiverse world.

In writing this chapter of the CBE Strategic Plan, our college community commits to climate action with determination to resolve the problems ahead and a wellspring of knowledge and spirit that gives the communities of research, education, and practice that we serve the capacity to thrive. In preparation for this Strategic Plan, outreach included questions to gauge student, faculty, staff, and professional committee interest in a variety of roles for CBE in climate action. Among all of these groups, 85 to 95 percent agreed or strongly agreed that all students in the college should graduate with an understanding of how the knowledge and skills of their field can be leveraged to impact, mitigate, and adapt to climate change.

As the generation that shoulders a greater proportion of climate impacts over time, students are attuned to this burden and their responses show that they would like the college to lend strength and support to their fight with climate change. Students overwhelmingly agree that CBE should be a resource and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. More than 80 percent of students agree or strongly agree that the college should advocate for a UW-wide goal of carbon negative emissions, and that CBE should become a resource for its implementation. Furthermore, students believe they would benefit from efforts at CBE to shape our curriculum into pathways (e.g., degrees, certificates, continuing education) for climate change expertise, and to establish a center for climate action collaboration between industry, government, the professions, and the wider array of disciplines at the University of Washington.

Within all survey groups over 90 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that all students should graduate with an understanding of how their field can impact, mitigate and adapt to climate change and over 70 percent feel the same about the college being a center of climate action.The following three graphs plot the results of the primary climate questions in the stakeholder survey.

Goals  (Articulate suggested strategic goal(s). What should the CBE do?)

Following a clear rationale for CBE involvement in climate action and informed by our research into student, faculty, and community perspectives on this issue, we propose the following four goals guide continued strategic planning on climate action by the College:

  • Goal 1: Rapidly decarbonize and enhance climate resilience of the UW campus.
  • Goal 2: Encourage CBE students, alumni, faculty, and staff to actively participate in resilience and climate planning, solutions and action.
  • Goal 3: CBE to develop a communications strategy to help us speak in a unified voice toward climate action
  • Goal 4. Establish CBE as a leader in climate action education and research.

—– Endnotes

[1] United Nations Environment Programme (2019). Emissions Gap Report 2019. UNEP, Nairobi.

[2] Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GABC) (2019) Global Status Report

[3] Seto K.C., S. Dhakal, A. Bigio, H. Blanco, G.C. Delgado, D. Dewar, L. Huang, A. Inaba, A. Kansal, S. Lwasa, J.E. McMahon, D.B. Müller, J. Murakami, H. Nagendra, and A. Ramaswami, 2014: Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial Planning. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA

[4] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014): Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.

[5] C. Le Quéré, R. M. Andrew, J. G. Canadell, S. Sitch, J. I. Korsbakken, et al. 2016. Global Carbon Budget 2016. Earth System Science Data, 8:605-649. doi:10.5194/essd-8-605-2016.

[6] Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec. 12, 2015, T.I.A.S. No. 16-1104.

[7] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P. R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, T. Waterfield (eds.)]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 32 pp.

Contact: Nancy Dragun ( and Laura Osburn (


Communication Processes

All organizations must have clearly defined processes and tools to deliver communications to a variety of stakeholder groups. This subgroup focused on reviewing a variety of approaches to standardizing, simplifying and  possibly centralizing communications within CBE. Receiving information by email was the clear choice of the three survey audiences  (student, staff/faculty, and external) when asked how they preferred to receive college/department communications.

Departments currently use a variety of tools and email lists to deliver communications to students, staff/faculty, and external audiences in very different ways. The difference in communication delivery and process is often due to lack of knowledge of available tools, and lack of training on their use, in order to improve the consistency of communication development and delivery throughout the college.

Interdisciplinary Communication

This subgroup is dedicated to connecting faculty, staff, and students to research opportunities, community partners, and industry partners to encourage interdisciplinary engagement and promote earned/professional skills. Achieving this goal is key for CBE staff, faculty, students, as well as external stakeholders. While specialists in specific disciplines are often sought after and rewarded, the current world struggles with large, complex problems (e.g., climate change, housing affordability) that require expertise from multiple disciplines to solve. And while all disciplines in the college are inherently interdisciplinary, any time a building is built or we engage in urban planning, we are interacting with an entire ecosystem of people, places, and objects, all of which require expertise found in fields such as geography, material science, engineering, technology, communication, organizational science, and cultural studies.

(Note: The work of this subgroup overlaps substantially with that of the Interdisciplinary Research task group.  For this reason we are minimizing our stated rationale as it will likely be redundant with theirs.  Our originally stated rationale can be found in Appendix 1.)


This subgroup’s goal is to define a strategy for development of compelling CBE stories and definition of our brand for faculty, staff, students and alumni.  Storytelling is a fundamental human experience that unites people and drives stronger, deeper connections. How we tell our stories is paramount to leading effective communications and strategic development of our college. Currently the story of CBE is not clear to most, and as a result, stories come primarily out of individual departments and, while strong and compelling, contribute to the “silo” effect that we have long recognized.  The College’s identity remains largely unclear to both internal and external audiences.

CBE occupies a nuanced and important space in the Pacific Northwest. In a rapidly changing metropolis, the faculty, staff and students of CBE bring expertise and involvement to topics that are community-focused and high press priority. CBE as a unit is a vast and central laboratory for study, exploration, and discovery across intersecting disciplines, and across professional and academic achievements. The goal of CBE communications strategy at all times is to propel the mission and vision of the college, across the many disciplines and communities CBE and UW impact.

The need for a concise CBE vision is clear. The UW has prioritized marketing and communications work with the endorsed goals of: attracting and developing Washington and the world’s most promising students; growing public and private support for the UW’s shared mission; becoming a destination for world class faculty and staff; and growing internal passions without and around the university and our communities.


Communication processes

Our research focused on how to standardize and simplify communication processes for our external, faculty/staff, and external audiences (alumni/professional council).  We gathered data from a variety of sources to better understand preferred communication options and to identify gaps in communication processes.  Internally we participated in the CBE survey, relying upon questions in that directly asked how students, faculty/staff, and alumni preferred to receive communications. In all audience categories, email was chosen as the way that these audiences wanted to receive information, so the majority of discussion was devoted to ways CBE could standardize and simplify email tools and processes.

Interdisciplinary Communication

In the process of assessing and creating our rationale and methods, this subgroup participated in the initial crafting of survey questions along with the larger committee, and have subsequently arrived at the goals outlined below, via assessment of the answers provided by survey participants. In addition to this, we engaged in cross-committee communication with the Interdisciplinary Research Committee. The overlap in our work enabled us to draw conclusions as to how interdisciplinary communication can best serve the needs of CBE and its stakeholders. In particular, we relied on the IDR group’s “Incentives and Barriers of IDR for CBE” and “Interdisciplinary Research Activities in CBE” documents to formulate our suggestions. We know that over 42 faculty/staff respondents and 36 students were involved in interdisciplinary research. We also found that the most resonant stories for external survey respondents were community connections (43.12%) and faculty research (39.45%). This data and the work of the Interdisciplinary Research Task group influenced the direction of our thinking; that we need stories that will help promote research, get the word out, and generate excitement and interest in building connections to others.

Based on our research, the subgroup determined that we should focus on the communication aspect of interdisciplinary engagement, rather than the skills-building aspect of learning how to best collaborate and engage, which we believe is a part of the Interdisciplinary Task group’s work.


Our subgroup utilized the CBE survey results to assess what types of stories most resonate with different audiences. From conversations, formal and informal brainstorming sessions, strategic planning, and trainings, both internal and external to CBE, we developed several strategy drivers. Strategy drivers are not externally facing messages; rather, they guide the creation of external messaging and marketing tactics based on targeted audiences and prioritization of those audiences. (See Appendices 3 and 4.)


1. Communication processes

Create a unified culture of communications across the college to the extent possible that is efficient, easily managed, readily accessible to the proper audiences, and workable for our different administrative structures.

2. Interdisciplinary Communication

Make CBE known to internal and external audiences as a fundamentally interdisciplinary community of engaged researchers and educators working together to solve problems across scales of the built environment through local and global initiatives.

3. Storytelling

Make CBE known to internal and external audiences through compelling and memorable stories that resonate with broad social and personal concerns.


  1. For faculty, higher level research courses may require faculty to have expertise in areas beyond their own. Being able to connect with members of the academic and nonacademic community outside of CBE will help broaden faculty expertise and expose students to knowledge from other fields that impact their own. For administrative staff, interdisciplinary engagement can mean building greater connections with others working in our local community, and learning from other academic institutions in areas that support the college’s day to day work. For research staff, interdisciplinary research can be key to generating funding on complex projects, building a larger network of research partners, and expanding upon potential outlets for communicating one’s work. It also means the potential to work with and research topics of importance to industry and community partners to improve the AEC industry and our community’s at large.

For students, while classwork emphasizes that interdisciplinary connections and community engagement are an effective means to understanding course material and the complexities that they will encounter in their future careers, it has been difficult to make these connections. They face barriers, such as understanding the different languages and communication styles of disciplinary communities outside of one’s own. Enhancing and promoting our interdisciplinary engagement in research and with community and industry partners can help build our reputation.

Currently CBE has promoted interdisciplinary work for our range of CBE stakeholders through courses such as the Integrated Design Studio and the ARC program, and through the individual activities of faculty and staff who have made their own connections across different colleges, off-campus communities, and industry partners. However, there has been little career incentive for individuals to make these connections.  Connecting students and researchers to industry and community partners requires time and resources to promote CBE’s reputation and to develop trusting stakeholder relationships.

  1. The below list highlights those audiences in order of priority:
  • Students – current and prospective
  • Alumni – including professional certificates
  • Faculty/staff – past, current, and prospective
  • Individual donors – active, past, and prospective
  • Industry partners
  • Government partners and agencies seeking expertise
  • Media/Press
  1. We can accomplish this through:
  • Identifying interdisciplinary engagement within CBE
  • Provide easy-to-find, centralized information for external stakeholders on current interdisciplinary research at CBE based on themed topics
  • Provide training or help to internal CBE stakeholders to build out their communications about their work in ways that create evocative, resonating stories that reach across campus and to industry and other community stakeholders.
  1. Strategy drivers from the larger University branding and marketing guidelines, existing and past CBE marketing materials, and input from the first several rounds of strategic planning and survey questions include:
  • Growth, continuous learning and challenges are essential tenets of a meaningful life
  • Show clear pathways from majors and departments to careers
  • Added career center support/ messaging a distinct possibility
  • Exploration, discovery, innovation and complexity drive CBE
  • Showing a variety of academic and professional opportunities and outcomes demonstrates the breadth of impact
  • Seattle is an important component of the UW CBE narrative
  1. Ideas for development of story framework:
  • Facilitated roundtable discussion among CBE community
  • Another survey, specific to this topic: what are the keywords/themes of CBE?
  • 1:1s conducted by CBE Comms committee with key representatives of each constituency
  • Other approaches TBD

Contact: Rachel Berney ( and Rick Mohler (


The Curriculum and Pedagogy group has been working to define three broad and aspirational goals, including supportive processes in place or needed within the CBE to accomplish what we set out to do. The first goal is Engagement and Leadership, which we see as bookends to the undergrad and grad experience. This means that we are focusing on pre-college-age recruitment as well as bolstering our connections to, use of, and opportunities to serve professionals and their development. The second is an Interdisciplinary CBE- Undergraduate and Professional Degree Programs and the third in an Interdisciplinary CBE – PhD and Post-Doctoral Programs.  The latter two are focused on building new CBE opportunities and supporting and enhancing current ones at multiple levels.

Using this framework we identified the following draft goals and related strategies.

Engagement and Leadership

Strategy 1     Strengthen connections with middle and high school students

  • Increase exposure to potential students of the allied college disciplines
  • Increase opportunities for a diverse undergraduate student population
  • Support teaching opportunities for CBE students

Strategy 2     Attract undergraduate students to CBE coursework starting as freshmen

  • Increase CBE visibility within University
  • Increase enrollment to college undergraduate programs
  • Increase ABB revenue (i.e. Arch 150)

Strategy 3     Leverage the PACs

  • Expose students to other disciplines
  • Leverage potential efficiencies in delivering required coursework
  • Increase engagement between departmental PAC’s

Strategy 4     Develop continuing education short courses including those focused on providing CE credits for registered/accredited professionals that build on CBE strengths

  • To be developed

Interdisciplinary CBE – Undergraduate and Professional Degree Programs

Strategy 1     Bridge required coursework across College departments

  • Expose students to other disciplines
  • Leverage potential efficiencies in delivering required coursework
  • Consider hiring lecturers at College level so that they could teach in multiple programs

Strategy 2     Establish an interdisciplinary capstone experience across multiple professional degree programs

  • Expose students to other disciplines
  • Increase interdisciplinary research within College
  • Leverage potential efficiencies in delivering capstone coursework
  • Establish interdisciplinary collaborative thesis projects

Strategy 3     Leverage college-wide strengths as bridges between departments

  • Expose students to other disciplines
  • Increase interdisciplinary research within CBE
  • Develop CBE reputation in technology, craft, history/theory, public-interest design, climate and so forth
  • Maximize role and benefit of Fabrication Lab within CBE
  • Co-locate studios from different disciplines within same space – break-down the spatial divisions
  • Co-ordinate logistics between departments such as the studio selection process
  • Require more coursework outside departments

Strategy 4     Establish/support College-level interdisciplinary design/build studios 

  • Expose students to the applied practices of disciplines across CBE
  • Increase interdisciplinary research/outreach within CBE
  • Enhance CBE reputation in design-build education

Strategy 5     Establish/support minor programs in multiple departments

  • Expose students to other disciplines at the undergraduate level
  • Encourage increased interdisciplinary engagement
  • Allow students from beyond CBE degree programs to engage with CBE coursework, faculty and students

Strategy 6     Establish a College-wide community engagement center

  • Increase collaboration and partnerships between CBE and community groups
  • Engage a practice-based curriculum focused on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI)
  • Foster increased interdisciplinary engagement

Interdisciplinary CBE – PhD and Post-Doctoral Programs

Strategy 1     Bolster College PhD Programs

  • Increase viability and standing of Ph.D. programs
  • Support CBE-wide research and scholarship
  • Increase teaching opportunities for PhD candidates for pre-major and professional degree programs
  • Provide support for sponsoring faculty of PhD students and program administration

Strategy 2     Establish a College Post-Doctoral Program

  • Enhance College-wide research and scholarship
  • Advance teaching opportunities for post-PhD education
  • Prepare the next generation of university/college educators
  • Establish an “Emerging Educator in Built Environments” post-doc program


Outreach and research included the College Strategic Planning event held on 12/11/19 and the College Strategic Planning Survey which asked faculty and staff to rank the proposed strategies within each goal.

The overarching goals and related strategies were presented to faculty and staff at the 12/11/19 event which prompted a high level discussion and a number of comments as outlined in Appendix 1.  The results of the survey are outlined in Appendix 2 and survey comments are outlined in Appendix 3.


Based upon the discussions during the 12/1/19 event and the survey results outlined in Appendix 2 we propose that the College focus on the following three goals and related strategies.

Engagement and Leadership

Strategy 2     Attract undergraduate students to CBE coursework starting as freshmen

  • Increase CBE visibility within University
  • Increase enrollment to college undergraduate programs
  • Increase ABB revenue (i.e. Arch 150)

Interdisciplinary CBE – Undergraduate and Professional Degree Programs

Strategy 3     Leverage college-wide strengths as bridges between departments

  • Expose students to other disciplines
  • Increase interdisciplinary research within CBE
  • Develop CBE reputation in technology, craft, history/theory, public-interest design, climate and so forth
  • Maximize role and benefit of Fabrication Lab within CBE
  • Co-locate studios from different disciplines within same space – break-down the spatial divisions
  • Co-ordinate logistics between departments such as the studio selection process
  • Require more coursework outside departments

Interdisciplinary CBE – PhD and Post-Doctoral Programs

Strategy 1     Bolster College PhD Programs

  • Increase viability and standing of Ph.D. programs
  • Support CBE-wide research and scholarship
  • Increase teaching opportunities for PhD candidates for pre-major and professional degree programs
  • Provide support for sponsoring faculty of PhD students and program administration 

Appendix 1 

Comments from 12/11/19 College Strategic Planning Event

  • Co-locate disciplinary studios
  • Think big about co-mingling disciplines
  • The College is not only about studio – how can the College be more inclusive
  • Recognize that service learning can take multiple forms
  • Consider when interdisciplinary engagement occurs (early/later engagement)
  • Require more coursework outside one’s department

Appendix 2

Results from Faculty/Staff survey (81 respondents)

Engagement and Leadership

Strategy 1     Strengthen connections with middle and high school students

Lowest Ranking – 13

Highest Ranking – 12

Strategy 2      Attract undergraduate students to CBE coursework starting as freshmen

Lowest Ranking – 1

Highest Ranking – 44

Strategy 3      Leverage the PACs

Lowest Ranking – 14

Highest Ranking – 14

Strategy 4      Develop continuing education short courses including those focused on providing CE credits for registered/accredited professionals that build on CBE strengths

Lowest Ranking – 20

Highest Ranking – 9

Interdisciplinary CBE – Undergraduate and Professional Degree Programs

Strategy 1     Bridge required coursework across College departments

Lowest Ranking – 6

Highest Ranking – 14

Strategy 2     Establish an interdisciplinary capstone experience across multiple professional degree programs

Lowest Ranking – 7

Highest Ranking – 5

Strategy 3     Leverage college-wide strengths as bridges between departments

Lowest Ranking – 4

Highest Ranking – 18

Strategy 4     Establish/support College-level interdisciplinary design/build studios

Lowest Ranking – 8

Highest Ranking – 11

Strategy 5     Establish/support minor programs in multiple departments

Lowest Ranking – 10

Highest Ranking – 8

Strategy 6     Establish a College-wide community engagement center

Lowest Ranking – 11

Highest Ranking – 16

Interdisciplinary CBE – PhD and Post-Doctoral Programs

Strategy 1     Bolster College PhD Programs

Lowest Ranking – 11

Highest Ranking – 56

Strategy 2     Establish a College Post-Doctoral Program

Lowest Ranking – 46

Highest Ranking – 32

Appendix 3

Comments from Faculty/Staff survey:

  • I hope that the discussion of interdisciplinary initiatives provides wide opportunity for engagement of faculty
  • Fight tribalism. There is value in taking classes in other departments EVEN IF they don’t explicitly talk about disciplinary differences. We share enough vocabulary and values to learn with each other and students can adapt to variations in scale, focus, etc. given the chance. Just do it.
  • interdisciplinarity is a means not an end. We should use these proposals to identify what are the values, forms of knowledge that will allow truly productive exchange across disciplines both within the CBE but also link to other departments in the University. Without this work of critically defining healthy differences (not minimizing them as the way to foster interdisciplinarity) as well as shared interests and values, I don’t believe that more interdisciplinary curricula and pedagogies will ever gain true traction.
  • Having CBE students exposed to other disciplines seems really important.
  • Merge the two PhD programs. UDP doesn’t feel they are part of the college and currently both programs don’t want to collaborate together. They are such a small group, relative to a department, and have shared experiences, they would be of great support to each other but there are currently physical barriers impeding that. Get UDP out of the Grad School would help.
  • Focusing on low-hanging fruits such as re-packaging existing lower level curriculum in the College as part of a connected introduction into the disciplines can help drive income which opens opportunities for a lot of these other ideas.
  • Support for the PhD program is largely needed. PhD programs are a big part of the research output of any department and college. They are also a great opportunity for interdisciplinary CBE collaborations.
  • All of these activities sound great AND each activity should highlight the desired impact.
    Bake in a stronger WHY
  • How would success be measured for middle and high school outreach and participation programs? What are opportunities for participating students after the conclusion of the outreach program? Is continued engagement and possible UW matriculation part of the pipeline plan?  CM is involved in ACE, a well-established and resourced extracurricular program for high school students.  Are there other such programs that the CBE can partner with?
  • Raising visibility among all students on courses offered to all CBE students needs to be professionalized. Right now posters on courses are produced by individual instructors with varying degrees of graphics ability. It would be great if each Department or the College could have a POC that could produce quality PDF and hard copy flyers of particularly new courses/studios so that all CBE students are more aware of their options. Also offering training on ways faculty can increase JEDI content in their courses would be welcomed.
  • More priority placed in pedagogy and ways of teaching. More priority placed on how to teach within and engage with topic of race, gender, power, rights, as it relates to space and design.
  • Pathways for jr college transfer direct to Junior year to enable a 4 year pathway.
  • Much more support existing interdisciplinary CBE Certificate Programs in Urban Design and In Historic Preservation — programs have a long history of bringing students together across participating departments
  • Affordable housing. The UofW wages have not kept up with this PNW economy.

Contact: Kim Sawada (, group lead


Human and community health have always been central to the design and construction of built environments. The imperative to increase human comfort and health is in the foreground of Vitruvian theory and feng shui in ancient times, and in modern architecture’s embrace of extensive glazing for health and sanitation in the early 20th century. It fell somewhat out of explicit focus in disciplinary education and practice in the course of the 20th century as physical health concerns were absorbed into laws and codes. It has come increasingly back to consciousness for design and construction as scientific research has produced greater understanding of mental and emotional components of health and their connections to physical factors.

CBE is keeping pace with social changes in our understanding of a healthy “workplace” for faculty, staff, and students. Some CBE faculty are active in new areas of research connected to human health, and some are introducing health and wellbeing topics into coursework. We need to care about these issues in order to stay relevant in our disciplines, and in order to provide our students with the knowledge base they will need as professionals.

Since writing our December Universe Map, we collected examples of how health and well-being is currently represented topically and in practice in three spheres: the CBE, the UW and in our professions. Our strategy for this report was to undertake this investigation and then look for relationships, patterns, and voids in our notes that would help us identify a position(s) for our group and inform our subsequent Strategies and KPIs report.

Our task group has learned about health and well-being issues together, across our disciplines, professions and responsibilities, which gave us a wide breadth of knowledge and experience from which to navigate through this process. We began with an exploration of nomenclature and keywords used in describing human health and well-being and also conducted an inventory of CBE courses and research. We also received input from those that attended our World Café presentations with additional feedback from the Gould Court tabling event and the Strategic Planning Survey that went out to students, staff, faculty and external constituencies.

In our research and interactions, we discovered many overlaps with other task groups, which illustrates that health and well-being permeates nearly every aspect of the CBE, especially in teaching, research and space planning. Our concluding position is that “health and well-being” can and should be both a leading priority and a lens by which to make strategic decisions and evaluate their impact and guide how our college proceeds in the CBE, UW and professional spheres. Our strategic goals are to 1) serve the immediate needs and anticipating the future needs of our students, staff and faculty 2) support innovative research that informs and directs best practices in our professions and 3) develop interdisciplinary partnerships within the UW population health initiative to raise its national and international profile in an area of universal importance- health and well-being.

CBE Sphere

Student Feedback

The most commonly expressed student health and well-being concerns are around anxiety and stress. Stressors, as noted by students in the Strategic Planning Survey, include overall workloads, finances, time management, food insecurity and job/professional prospects.

Time management does not refer to just time management skills and strategies, but includes asking CBE to acknowledge time limitations, particularly of the quarter system and factoring in commute times, workloads and deadlines across their entire course loads, work schedules and family responsibilities. Students are asking for more scheduling flexibility with their required courses that includes offering courses with more time options. Commuters specifically noted that evening classes are difficult as busses do not run as frequently, lack of childcare and it makes for a long day. Some students preferred evening classes because it allowed them to work and raise their families during the day. Students also noted that there seemed to be more emphasis of time and effort on studio than other classes that they felt were equally important.

The UW has tools and services to support students with these challenges. They can be accessed through the Husky Experience Toolkit, Husky Health and Well-Being and LiveWell. However, only half the student respondents were aware of these services and a minority of those aware of these resources utilized them. There is a clear opportunity to better connect students to these resources. This also raises the question of whether or not students feel connected to campus enough to be aware of and utilize resources, including writing and career services.

Students also contributed many readily attainable suggestions such as regular 10 min breaks every hour, more fresh air and outdoor time when the weather permits, beginning class with a mindfulness exercise and the availability of healthy snacks.

In design education, studio courses are known to be intensive, time consuming experiences and the associated spaces are like second homes to students. We have studio policies from both Landscape Architecture and Architecture in the addendum. These polices contain references to practices that concern the health and well-being of students in the studio environment. Additionally, faculty and students have discussed with us their individual practices and experiences, which include both best practices and unmet needs. Select CBE faculty participated in the CBE Raising Resilience Initiative which was led by Julie Johnson and Brooke Sullivan and funded by a 2019 UW Resilience and Compassion Initiatives Seed Grant available through the UW Resilience Lab. This initiative explored, “How may the intersections of resilience and well-being; systems thinking; and biophilic design enrich our pedagogy and better support our students.” Existing studio policies may not be sufficient to current students’ needs and that an inclusive process to revise and update them would be advised.

Related to space planning, students, particularly students not in studio programs, have expressed a desire for clean, quiet spaces or alcoves to rest, work spaces with tech equipment to meet and work on group projects, natural light and greenery. PhD students expressed the need for space to work, hold office hours, and meet with people connected to their research. Recent improvements to Gould Hall and the court area have reclaimed underutilized square footage to create more space for student use and activities. The outcomes for the Place, Space and Resources Task Group will likely continue to look at needs and identify improvement opportunities.

Faculty and Staff Feedback

Faculty and staff also expressed an interest and need for wellness support. For faculty and staff, the UW has the Whole U program, which organizes activities across campus that center around faculty and staff well-being.


Fewer than fifty percent of student respondents reported to have had coursework that touched on issues of human health and well-being. We have identified twelve courses across all CBE academic units that address human health and well-being listed in the addendum. There is a clear potential for additional offerings across disciplines.

This also raises the question of how students define health and well-being. The list of keywords in the addendum may help faculty connect students with alternative terminology and related concepts to illustrate the breadth of how CBE addresses health and well-being issues.


By looking at the history of CBE departments and the work of our current research centers and labs, it is clear that CBE has been actively investigating how to improve human health and well-being from its very beginnings. The global conversation has been elevated in recent decades as research has provided more insight into the cumulative and exponential nature of the negative effects of poverty and environmental degradation on human health and well-being. When looking at the UW sphere, there is momentum and resources behind the Population Health Initiative that if we can establish a strong connection to this, can amplify the work that we do.

See addendum for list of research centers and labs.

UW Sphere

The UW Population Health Initiative has identified three pillars of population health: human health, environmental resilience, and social and economic equity. CBE’s research labs and center squarely situates the college to address these issues as they relate to the built environment and contribute to the goals of this campus-wide initiative. The college’s proximity to the new Population Health Building also presents an opportunity to engage and collaborate. Additional articles are included in the addendum.

Our research also led us to the School of Public Health (SPH), which has both undergraduate and graduate programs. Andy Dannenberg, a member of our task group shares appointments in both SPH and CBE. Looking at his research and courses, there is a clear relationship between our disciplines. Our CBE course inventory and research directory revealed that we in fact have many faculty and courses that address issues related to population health from a variety of approaches and scales. There are still unexplored opportunities for interdisciplinary coursework, programs, research, public lectures etc…


The Professional Sphere includes both research and practice by faculty in our respective areas, and the professional communities we regularly engage. As with the UW Sphere, research and teaching that can impact professional practice in meaningful ways will accelerate and amplify our potential to improve the quality of human health and well-being. Our respective professional organizations are identifying and articulating their priorities related to health and well-being, giving CBE an effective means to engage, and to disseminate relevant work.


CBE initiatives should use health and well-being as a lens to look for nexus, synergies and interstitial opportunities across the college, university and professional spheres. The needs of the individual CBE student, faculty and staff well-being should be addressed immediately and with strategic consideration for future long-term planning and investments. Focusing on strengthening our connection to both the UW and Professional Spheres will enable us to access additional resources, elevate our presence and research and allow us to engage and disseminate our knowledge on a greater scale.


Contact: Jennifer Dee ( and Ann Huppert (


Our increasingly complex world requires engagement with history and the humanities in order to address the critical challenges – climate action, equity – that we face.

CBE’s degree programs train students in strategic approaches and technical skills that are required by their chosen professions. However, it is their common preparation in the values, stories and experiences of the built environment that allows them to excel as designers, planners, analysts, developers and builders.

Research and teaching in the areas of history and humanities promote critical thinking about human concerns and values in relation to the built environment, and provide a framework for putting them into practice. A critical understanding of the past enables insight into the present and envisioning the future in both academic and public dialogues.

The task group mission is to employ histories, humanities and futures as modes for engaging in critical discourse, practice based in values including those of curiosity, imagination, equity, diversity and inclusion, and communicating effectively.

The scope of Humanities, Histories and Futures is profoundly interdisciplinary and connects the departments and programs of the CBE across all areas of teaching, research and service. Humanities, Histories and Futures provide the platform for integrating the professions and disciplines of the built environments, and for communicating the scholarship, practical knowledge and vision produced in the CBE to the University and broader communities and publics at large.


We broadened our input through interviews with department representatives beyond the task group makeup (RE, UDP, CM). We identified wide interest but also curriculum capacity, structural and scheduling challenges.

We explored intersections across the university, with programs including CHID, Simpson Center, connections to digital humanities and data science, qualitative methods and the importance of narrative.

We have begun to develop potential course models and content, and topics for symposia and other events.

Our external explorations have included examining the role of history/humanities in other programs nationally.


  • Build CBE support for research and scholarship in Humanities+Histories+Futures for students and faculty; amplify student enrollment and engagement in existing history and humanities-focused programs (for ex. BE PhD, Architecture MS History/Theory); foster the value of writing as a core communication skill within the college.
  • Develop and integrate college-wide, interdisciplinary courses that include a humanities perspective.
  • Develop symposia, workshops, and other events to highlight existing strengths in CBE scholarship and research in Humanities+Histories+Futures, foster connections across the University, and engage nationally and internationally.
  • Amplify our existing history/theory collective of research, scholarship and teaching to lead in envisioning and articulating future narratives for just, responsible and resilient communities that improve human experience that improve human experience.

Contact: Jennifer Davison (, group lead


Across the disciplines of the built environment, and around the world, the questions we ask and the challenges we face are increasingly complex. Now more than ever, methods to address these issues must engage multiple perspectives in order to identify holistic answers and durable solutions. Interdisciplinary research is increasingly seen as a viable and powerful tool for addressing such complex challenges.

Interdisciplinary research, as defined by the NSF, is “a mode of research by teams or individuals, that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.” In the College of Built Environments (CBE), interdisciplinary research includes multiple methodologies (e.g., action research; historical research) as well as different scales, from an individual employing multiple disciplines in their work, to collaborative research with private-sector, public-sector, and community partners. Interdisciplinary research has been shown to effectively advance knowledge that spans disciplines, foster innovative solutions, and provide relevant, transferrable skills for academic and non-academic career success. In engaging the priorities of community partners, interdisciplinary research allows for greater and more equitable societal impact. Funding opportunities, including sponsored research as well as partnerships with public and private entities, increasingly require such collaborative approaches to ensure positive and robust impacts. Interdisciplinary research enhances the reputation of the College of Built environments for all of these reasons, and the funds generated through interdisciplinary research help CBE support its researchers. Notably, as found in the UW-wide Faculty 2050 survey and Carnegie community engagement assessment, and mirroring broader findings in literature on academic research patterns, women, people of color and other underrepresented scholars are more likely to undertake collaborative approaches like interdisciplinary research. Support of interdisciplinary research can therefore have a direct positive impact on diversity, equity and inclusion in our college and fields. Lastly, interdisciplinary research, while often requiring extra effort, can be extremely fun and rewarding. For all of these reasons, the Interdisciplinary Research Task Group believes that CBE should more effectively generate, support, and amplify interdisciplinary research efforts. A greater number, variety, and quality of interdisciplinary research efforts led by CBE will lead to more beneficial impact for our academic fields, for our students, and for society.

Research Results

Our research approach, detailed in appendix 1, focused on three questions:

  1. What interdisciplinary research is being done in CBE?
  2. What are the incentives and barriers of interdisciplinary research for CBE?
  3. What are successful models of interdisciplinary research that CBE could learn from? Constrained by group bandwidth, the methods we ended up completing included utilizing focus groups at the CBE World Cafe meeting on December 11, 2019; participating in the CBE survey for internal and external audiences; and representative documentation of existing interdisciplinary research efforts. We documented interdisciplinary research efforts (appendix 2) based on the above definition of interdisciplinary research. This database is a snapshot of CBE’s activities, including research centers, institutes, labs and individual projects, compiled from various sources as outlined in our research approach (appendix 1). It is not comprehensive, serving as an example of useful information that CBE could collectively learn from (see goal 1).

The initial survey analysis (appendix 3) and visualizations (appendix 4) of standardized questions, combined with the focus group discussions (synthesized in appendix 5), demonstrated clear patterns in the perceptions of faculty, staff, students, and external partners with respect to incentives and barriers for interdisciplinary research in CBE.

Perceived incentives align with and inform the stated rationale above, including: addressing real-world problems; creating new knowledge and learning critical skills; and accessing more funding opportunities.

Perceptions of barriers to interdisciplinary research in CBE ranged from logistical to institutional to cultural. Many students and external partners indicated a lack of awareness of interdisciplinary research in CBE and/or how to get involved. Faculty and staff cited funding, fiscal administration, and time as significant barriers. Multiple people identified promotion and tenure criteria that are at odds with the needs, timelines and outputs of interdisciplinary research. Internal stakeholders noted the challenge of undertaking interdisciplinary research within the boundaries of degree programs, as well as various incompatibilities across disciplines and sectors that underpin the greater amount of effort that interdisciplinary research usually takes.


Achieving the following three goals should collectively lead to an increase in the number, variety, and quality of interdisciplinary research activities in the College of Built Environments.

  1. Better understand and communicate CBE’s interdisciplinary research. By documenting, tracking and communicating the efforts and outcomes across CBE’s interdisciplinary research activities, we can first establish baselines and metrics that we’d like to improve upon. We can then identify redundancies, gaps, procedural difficulties and exemplary practices across efforts, leading to implementation of practices that allow for greater efficiency and more positive impacts. Further, by bringing more visibility to our interdisciplinary research we can create a shared understanding of what we do, why, and ways that stakeholders can get involved.
  2. Increase administrative support for interdisciplinary research in CBE. Provide staffing and processes to support researchers to find opportunities for funding, achieve successful proposals and contracts, and manage resources for interdisciplinary research. Develop coordinated, efficient processes for grant-based research, service contracts, and projects that may not have additional/external funding.
  3. Address institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research within CBE. Those in CBE who are most productive in interdisciplinary research consistently state that extra work is required for it to be successful, even without extra institutional barriers. By exploring and thoughtfully addressing key levers and alignment in hiring, promotion and tenure, curricular, and other college and departmental policies and procedures, CBE can take steps to a) not disincentivize, and b) further incentivize interdisciplinary research.


Contact: Jeff Hou (


  1. As a college in a major public research university, it is CBE’s mission and responsibility to serve the greater public through knowledge creation and dissemination. One of the ways to do so is through public engagement in teaching, research, and service locally and globally.
  2. The challenges facing the built environments transcend political and territorial boundaries. The greater Seattle region, and the state of Washington, is globally connected. Our teaching, research, and service activities should respond to this complexity by linking local and global scales.
  3. As a college of professional disciplines, local and global engagements provide opportunities to collaborate with community and industry partners and produce knowledge that advances the professions.
  4. Local and global engagement is an existing strength within CBE with programs such as neighborhood design/build, Livable City Year, Storefront Studio, and a large number of study abroad programs in locations ranging from Scandinavia to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
  5. Our strength in local and global engagement and our collective ties to many local and global partners have not been fully communicated and leveraged in our visibility as a College. There are opportunities for us to play a stronger leadership role by linking local and global affairs in the built environment.


Our research so far has relied primarily on the Strategic Planning Survey distributed to faculty/staff, students, and external stakeholders. The survey questions we prepared have focused on identifying current and recent activities of engagement outside CBE (for faculty/staff and students) and inside CBE (for our external stakeholder such as alumni and professionals), priority areas for CBE in terms of future actions, and support needed from the College for local and global engagement. We intend to further inquire about ongoing and planned local/global engagement activities within the College and engage those who are doing such work. For now, from the survey results, we identify the following key findings –

  1. Activities — The survey finds faculty/staff to be engaged in a variety of activities including research collaboration (22.5%), community engagement (20.5%), study abroad program (18.5%), academic exchange (13.2%), service-learning (10.6%), and contracted service (10.6%). For the students, the top activities are study abroad (29.0%), community engagement (21.7%), and research collaboration (21.7%). For the external stakeholders (predominantly alumni), the top activities are public lectures (20.3%), design workshops and charrettes (18.6%), studio reviews (13.8%), and gallery exhibitions (13%). The data from the survey were not sufficient for us to generate a complete map of activities at CBE.
  2. Spatial distribution — The results show strong ties to local governments and communities in Puget Sound with additional ties to entities at the state and federal levels, along with activities and connections around the world particularly in Asia.
  3. Priority areas for CBE – The top three items identified by all the respondents combined are research and engagement in climate resilience (46.6%), recruit students from underserved/underrepresented communities (39.6%), and research collaboration with industries and professions (39.6%), followed by empower underserved/underrepresented communities (36.6%) and research and engagement in social justice + equity (31.1%).
  4. Support needed from the College – For this question, the top three items identified by all the respondents combined are outreach to local partners (48.0%), support faculty & student leadership through seed funding (43.5%), support & expand current initiatives (e.g., LCY, BE studios) (42.7%), followed by communicate more effectively current activities (40.7%).
  5. Faculty/staff, students, and external stakeholders – Despite some differences and discrepancy, the responses do generally mirror each other across the three populations which suggests consistency in the responses.
  6. Taken together — The results suggest a need to provide support and coordinate outreach efforts at the college level, provide support for faculty and student leadership, and engage/empower underserved and underrepresented communities, including recruiting from those communities. They also suggest a high level of interest in research and engagement in climate resilience.
  7. Task group opinion — As a task group, we see opportunities to link issues of climate resilience, health/well-being, and social justice and equity to take full advantage of the expertise and capacity in CBE. In addition, it’s important to note that while some areas were not ranked as highly as others, they were still identified by a significant portion of the CBE community. Therefore, they are not necessarily less significant or deserving of attention and support.

Goals (3)

  1. Create synergistic projects that facilitate local and global collaboration at the intersection of critical issues such as climate resilience, health and well-being, and social justice and equity.
  2. Strengthen capacity to coordinate, support and promote local and global activities in the College (including documenting and communicating activities and results as well as supporting current initiatives).
  3. Develop EDI capacity including programs to support faculty and student leadership and outreach through local and global engagement, including engaging and empowering underserved and underrepresented communities.

APPENDIX 1 Research approaches for IDR TG
APPENDIX 2 CBE IDR projects or centers
APPENDIX 3 survey analysis for IDR Task Group
APPENDIX 4 Incentives and Barriers of IDR for CBE

Contact: Meegan Amen ( and Kimo Griggs (


As the infrastructure to all college operations, being both inspirational and aspirational, reflecting a daily embodiment of our disciplines current best practices and future possibilities, place, space and resources is a critical core college asset. How Place is conceived, Space is utilized, and Resources allocated serve as the foundation for the college to support learning, teaching, research, and community. Without each of these elements—and without all of them working in concert—the very idea of a College of Built Environments collapses.


While the Place, Space and Resource Task Group has only recently been constituted, membership is comprised of faculty, staff, and students that have long contributed to these conversations. We have absorbed the findings and thinking of a student-centered space planning committee and other members have worked together, and with other CBE constituents for many years to improve, furnish and administer space and resources within the College. Work performed during the prior decade has included significant outreach to students, faculty and staff.

In identifying task group goals we specifically relied on:


Improve efficiency, synergy and equity through a holistic review current space allocation, identify efficiencies, under-utilization, and research expanding resources.

  • Are our current spaces efficiently used or provide constituent value?
  • Are there amenities at other institutions that are absent in CBE (e.g. virtual reality or 3D printing)?
  • What resources could be more accommodating and improve access (expanded computing services, more online curriculum)?
  • Can we create space for student services that improve equity (e.g. space for donated Fabrication Lab materials to lower student program costs) or alleviate student time and stress (e.g. on-site Materials Store)?
  • How might we reimagine office space differently than the departmental model?
  • Examine how the physical resources of the College can be used to encourage greater participation and engagement by the public, a wider range of the student body, faculty and staff from other programs and all others that our activities and interest affect, and are affected by.

Review instructional space allocation—CBE studios and classrooms—through the lens of space and time management efficiency, evaluate program growth potential and what space is necessary to achieve it.

  • Explore course scheduling that maximizes classroom allocation efficiencies and invites greater student life-balance by providing students greater control of their schedule through block scheduling.
  • Are the proper rooms assigned to CBE classrooms and studios?
  • Find the maximum enrollment capacity, or even if such a thing exists, and identify a strategy that shares capacity efficiently.
  • Identify instruction-free time periods to promote cross-departmental conversations to flourish and promote college wide conversations and initiatives.
  • Fully align with the University’s Learning Policy so our students can explore all that campus and our departments have to offer (certificates and minors).

Explore how college space can create space(s) for a college culture to be cultivated and flourish while encouraging collaboration and constituent mental well-being.

  • Consider how our current spaces impacts our built environment culture. How might spatial alterations inspire and nurture a more creative culture (e.g. plants, wall color, soft furniture, and acoustics, light).
  • Balance the need for space to fit specific needs (classrooms, studios, and breakout spaces) with the emotional and physical need of the community (distraction free spaces, kitchen space, conversation and collaboration).
  • Identify spaces and resources that are not currently contributing in a positive way and reimagine their utility (e.g. Architecture Hall 2nd floor foyer, Gould Hall north lawn or the southern Varey Garden, Gould balconies, building ventilation).
  • Evaluate how reimagining studio allocation away from a departmental model could promote student and program collaboration that could encompasses a building and not simply a room.
  • How can we create continuity between Gould and Architecture Halls so that one always feels an active participant in the college?
  • Explore ideas for greater visibility and improved communication of what is happening in, and around, the college.
    • How can we showcase alumni achievements within our space to inspire current students?
    • How can we bring out current student work into our public spaces to identify collaboration opportunities?

Create college-wide standards so that currently opaque procedures are defined, as able, to promote a culture that creativity is an asset the college strives to support.

  • Create Facilities Space Guidelines
  • Create college-wide standards to share across spaces, buildings and activities to provide recognizable themes representative of the College as well as UW and each department.
    • Signage, furnishings, exhibitions, lighting, use of materials, recognition awards and building improvements might be included in this approach.
    • Clear communication of these standards will hopefully provide a dialogue that assumes everyone wants to get to “yes” and encourages student spontaneity and creativity while respecting space limitations.
  • Establish policies for use of spaces, standards and guidelines for design & communication (how the College presents itself, how information is presented, palette of standard materials, recommendations for use etc.).
  • Who has after-hours access to the Digital Commons? How are class times determined? How are studios assigned? Some practices have rationales behind them, that if known, show thought and fairness: without writing them down, perceptions change to cold and unaccommodating. Or maybe review would show some current policies are indeed unfair.

Contact: Manish Chalana (`

Vision: Center EDI in the developing Strategic Plan of CBE so that it percolates/informs/shapes the outcome of all task groups.

Cultivate an inclusive College climate / culture – people understand the importance of EDI, have self-awareness and skillfulness in actions, urgency to start immediately recognizing that internalizing this type of change takes time

Goal 1. Cultivate an inclusive College climate / culture – people understand the importance of EDI, have self-awareness and skillfulness in actions, urgency to start immediately recognizing that internalizing this type of change takes time.

    • Cultivate an inclusive departmental and college climate that is welcoming to all, embraces differences, promotes and accommodates diversity, equity, and inclusion of all students, faculty, and staff
    • Faculty, staff, students understand what EDI is, why it is important and what it entails and actively engage in personal and individual behavior change to embed it in CBE culture
    • Deepen our understanding of our unintended bias, as individuals and collectively, and cultivate skills and practices to circumvent and reinvent the way we work
    •  Activities:
      • Co-create shared definitions and approach to creating an equitable college and society/built environment
      • Expand partnership with UW and the community to foster inclusivity and equity
      • Identify and support trainings for students, staff and faculty

Create systems that support EDI and accountability (both financial and representation) in admissions and hiring practices to address disparity

Goal 2. Create systems that support EDI – representation, accountability, admissions and hiring practices, financial support from financial aid and scholarships to pay equity.

  • Recruit, retain and graduate a demographically diverse and excellent student body
  • Recruit, retain diverse and excellent faculty and staff
  • Departments and Dean’s Office accept accountability by implementing new initiatives to achieve those goals
  • Develop systems and structures that hold individuals and departments accountable and support EDI
  • Use transparent models and metrics for understanding and communicating areas of success and weakness in funded EDI efforts and programs
  • Coordinate efforts to further a common vision and further best practices and successful efforts and programs that forge professionals committed to equitable outcomes
  • Built Environment practitioners engage communities in facilitating more inclusive, healthier, and vibrant places through a commitment to addressing deep social inequities.
  • Activities
    • Document department and college level efforts within each unit around EDI
    • Develop new EDI guidelines for CBE courses by type: Studio; Seminar; Lecture; Large Class; Study Abroad and Online
    • Make CBE Curriculum Committee responsible for reviewing new and revised courses for EDI content
    • Encourage and reward faculty for revising their courses to meet the new EDI Guideline
    • Ensure that technology in pedagogy is accessible to all students
    • Trainings to disrupt status quo to create an equitable workplace and classrooms
    • Address pipeline problems with underrepresented minority students
    • Use existing and create new scholarships to recruit underrepresented minority students
    • Address existing disparity in teaching load and pay gaps between faculty based on demographic
    • Establish a professional practice to understand multiple publics and understand cross-sectional needs. Professional programs to train students in topics of cultural competency, racial literacy, and tending to difference.
    • Create an action-oriented curriculum that highlights the complexities of real world projects, especially projects focused on gentrification, anti-displacement practices, and resource distribution.
    • Create a participatory learning environment that encourages deep listening, negotiating, and facilitation. These components will give students and faculty adequate tools to work professionally among different communities.
    • Use transparent models and metrics for understanding and communicating areas of success and weakness in funded EDI efforts and programs
  • Built Environment Practitioners core role is to serve diverse communities through collective decision making and advocacy.

Model of best practice and leader in the field Become a leader in the field and model of best practice and be a – develop and showcase models of equitable practice and best practice in education and our fields, recognize, respect and support innovative student led EDI efforts

    • Develop and showcase models of equitable practice and best practice in education and our fields
    • Recognize, respect, and support innovative student led EDI efforts
    • Demonstrate ownership and reflect on unsuccessful efforts that have not furthered or undermined equity, diversity, and inclusion within the college and professions
    • Serve as a leader in the field modeling best practice
    • Activities
      • Identify and implement low barrier changes that support EDI immediately
      • Review practices and programs of peer institutions

Contact: Megan Herzog (


  1. Identify and develop CBE student recruitment strategies
  2. Assess and improve CBE culture, resources, and opportunities for students
  3. Strengthen and maintain coordinated connections with CBE alumni


T o facilitate the best experience for students in the College of Built Environments (CBE), we need to explore and support their values such as equity, diversity, and inclusion; school and life balance; personal and professional growth; and freedom of expression.

To promote a positive relationship with CBE, we suppose that the student experience begins at the time the student becomes interested in the University of Washington (UW) and continues throughout their post-graduate life. In order to best serve our students, we need to track students’ perceptions of their educational experience from the time they apply to their program to the time they graduate, as well as their connections back to their program as an alumnus.

The online CBE Strategic Planning Survey and in-person Strategic Planning Open House help u s understand the whole student experience. These outlets provide student insight regarding academics as well as culture, resources, and opportunities in CBE. These results will help us prioritize College-wide short- and long-term goals

It is important that the CBE student experience align with the UW Husky Experience which encompasses the transformative educational experiences—inside and outside the classroom—that help our students discover their passions in life and work, become independent thinkers and citizens, and gain the skills that lead to meaningful and rewarding lives and careers.


Our research focused on gathering data from a variety of sources to better understand the student relationship with CBE and how that can be improved. Our methods were as follows:

  1. We engaged with the CBE Strategic Planning Survey as well as the CBE Strategic Planning Open House to receive direct student feedback.
  2. We spoke with the UW Office of Academic & Student Affairs to understand the University’s approach when drafting the UW Husky Experience. We asked, “What questions should we be asking to identify problem areas and how should we gauge how successful our students are in their careers and how fulfilling their time is in CBE?”
  3. We analyzed the current (2019) and previous (2015, 2014) versions of the Student Experience at a Research University (SERU) survey, and the Office of Educational Assessment (OEA) Alumni 6-Month Surveys, as both will continue to be conducted by UW in the future.
  4. We analyzed data from UW Profiles. In reviewing this data we focused on apparent trends in student opinions and how those translated into success. We focused on areas where CBE had statistically significant results compared to UW students as a whole.

Additional time should be spent analyzing data available from UW-IT on common pathways to and through majors. In addition, data on student health and well-being may be available through the Student Health Consortium, Student Mental Health Task Force, Student Course Evaluations, and other similar resources.

As we conducted this research, we noticed a number of common ideas, which have been organized into the three phases of the student experience: (1) pre-CBE, (2) during their time in CBE, and (3) post-graduation. These ideas will inform the action recommendations as part of Deliverable 2: Strategies and KPIs. The following ideas informed our three goals:


    1. UW should implement a comprehensive enrollment strategy
    2. CBE should work with pre-major, athletic, and other academic institutions to improve referrals to CBE degree programs
    3. Ensure our majors and departments are included in Undergraduate Common Interests and Meta-Major initiatives at the University-level
    4. Assist our prospective and current students in finding funding via scholarships, grants, work-study, or TA positions whenever possible
    5. Develop resources for international students to assist in the VISA process as well as their transition to a new learning environment
    6. Establish CBE resources that will allow us to retain diverse and curious students so that they know they are supported when they choose CBE

During CBE

  1. CBE should ensure all students obtain one or more Internships in their field
  2. Additional High-Impact Learning Experiences such as community learning, study abroad, and faculty research should be emphasized
  3. Expand interdisciplinary learning opportunities — this should include partnerships not only internal to CBE but to other Colleges at UW such as business and engineering
  4. Promote an equitable, diverse, and inclusive learning environment for all CBE students
  5. Where is the friction to student success and how do we mitigate it?
    1. Identify barriers students experience by utilizing Course Evaluations, survey feedback, and UW-IT data analysis, and then work to remove the barriers
    2. Do clear paths to graduation exist for all degree programs? Do our degrees accommodate a wide variety of minors or certificates? Are they built to accommodate study abroad or similar course changes? Are we doing enough to ensure our students graduate on-time or even early?
    3. Ensure courses take advantage of Canvas, Panopto and similar tools to accommodate different learning styles
  6. Research and identify areas for improvement regarding student health and well-being
    1. College-wide plan for stress reduction
    2. Integrate mindfulness or similar practices into coursework
    3. CBE students and faculty should be more familiar with health and well-being resources on campus and how to take advantage of them
    4. Implement a required training for all faculty/staff on UW student wellness resources similar to Safe Campus training
    5. Reduce student stress around design critiques by providing faculty constructive feedback training
  7. Shift student building environment by increasing informal gathering / discussion / collaboration spaces and dedicated team project spaces
  8. Apply biophilic design throughout Gould and Architecture Halls
  9. Consider block scheduling and limit scheduling courses no later than 6:00PM
  10. Provide access to comfort amenities such as vending machines and espresso machines after-hours
  11. Provide additional tools to prepare for post-graduation success, such as:
    1. Portfolio workshops and reviews
    2. Writing workshops


  1. Establish mentorship programs
  2. Obtain and implement feedback from CBE alumni on skills and tools required in their workplace
  3. Share alumni success stories, invite them to speak with current students
  4. Establish CBE alumni ambassadors to assist in recruiting new students, job placement for graduates and expanding the CBE brand recognition nationally and internationally


Contact: Tyler Sprague (


What does your topic mean for CBE and our stakeholders? What is CBE doing currently? Why do we care?

The development, use and consideration of technology is a central part of CBE’s teaching, research and community-building efforts.  CBE and its stakeholders take a broad view of technology, using the term to encompass a wide range of tools for design, visualization, making, organization, management and communication, as well as the products of those practices.  These tools and capabilities change rapidly, and require thoughtfulness in their use.  The CBE community widely accepts the value of technology as an essential facilitator of CBE’s pursuit of larger goals.

Currently, CBE Departments remain disconnected in their teaching of technology-centered courses, and students are largely expected to manage their own technology needs.  This allows Departments to meet their discipline-specific requirements, but often results in overlapping course content and little cross-college understanding.  CBE funds its technology resources through a combination of the UW-wide Student Technology Fund (for larger initiatives) and College-level funding (staffing, smaller technology needs).

Each department utilizes technology for research in discipline-specific ways.  These are driven by individual faculty members interests and capabilities, and these activities are largely isolated from other faculty members and students.  In addition, technology-centered research is often disconnected from coursework.  In general, CBE has an undefined relationship to technology (some areas ahead of practice, other areas behind).

Our task group is to help establish a college-wide platform for the discussion and use of technology within our disciplines. Given CBE’s place within the University of Washington, the supportive professional communities, and the larger Puget Sound region, a conscious and deliberate engagement with technology offers a promising path forward to both lift the profile of CBE and substantively address the grand challenges of our time.


What did you learn? What is important to our stakeholders?

Our task group collected information on technology in CBE in several different ways – including two surveys, Task Group discussions, and targeted emails to faculty and staff.

From these sources, we learned that students largely rely on their own technology to complete coursework demands, with cost as the primary barrier to use.  The primary concern was about learning the required software (often assumed, not taught) and called for more workshops and online tutorials for gaining skills.  Students are accepting of technology in their education and their future careers, and appreciate the design/ visualization/ collaboration capabilities it offers.  Several students called for education in software that they would directly use in their profession.

Our external stakeholders appreciated the tech-awareness & perspective of our graduates, but the most important quality was the ability to continuously learn (as technology changes).  This was followed closely by a desire for systems/ critical/ design thinking in their work, and solid communication/ leadership skills that improves with technology (doesn’t get worse).

In general, our stakeholders expressed a sense that the disciplines must critically expand technology-enabled design & facilitation capabilities, to not only to ‘keep up,’ but advance the field.  Our stakeholders saw huge potential for 1) interdisciplinary partnerships to leverage CBE’s position, 2) to support a community-centered technology that encouraged public engagement and social equity, and 3) to be “Tech Nimble,” especially in Seattle and use tech to address grand challenges.

Our faculty and staff expressed a strong desire for more integration between departments to foster a ‘culture’ of technology which is currently fragmented across the college.  Existing faculty are intellectually transitioning from a mindset of tech-focused specialization, to a broader, more ubiquitous use by generalists.  New research directions may arise from this sharing of interests, perspectives and abilities.  Faculty education and growth in the area of technology has not typically been supported.  Faculty saw a benefit to a series of low-level, core technology courses shared across the college to be take prior to more advanced courses.

Faculty and staff also acknowledged the danger of CBE’s current ambiguous/fractured relationship to technology.  With funding levels for resources and labs diminishing, CBE members voiced concern about the loss of reputation, status, and students that may come with further erosion of support.  Growing a culture that acknowledges and values technology is essential to the future reputation of the college.


What should CBE do?

Three Strategic Goals:

  1. Enable our students to be leaders in technology in their future careers, by modeling a critical understanding, educating for both knowledge and skill, and removing barriers to technology use.
  2. Enable faculty & staff to develop expertise and become leaders in technology, by fostering a culture of accessible, explorative, ubiquitous use of technology across the college.
  3. Foster interdisciplinary, leading research partnerships through outside collaborations with tech industry and local communities, by leveraging the unique perspective, position and resources of the college, and its ability to address grand challenges.