April 19, 2021

Advocacy Month 2021 has come and gone. A huge thanks goes to the AIAS Advocates, the Sustainability and Resiliency Task Force, the Social Justice Task Force, and the Learning & Teaching Culture Advisory Group created content and shared what they’ve been working on throughout the year for all 31 days. Each group also gave a presentation during the THRIVE Webinar on March 24th (check out the recording below). In case you missed out during March, here’s a bit of a summary on what was shared throughout the month:

The 2020-2021 AIAS Advocates kicked us off and closed out Advocacy Month by sharing their experiences in the Advocates Program and what they’ve been working on throughout the year. Moid Ali, the AIAS Advocate for Environmentalism, kicked off Advocacy Month discussing intersectionality in the climate movement. As witnessed throughout the past year especially, there is a drive to tackle all issues tormenting the world. All of these issues, from women’s rights, social justice, poverty, to climate change, all relate back to one another in some capacity and understanding the complexities of their entanglement is important to better understand and solve these problems. Moid’s second blogpost for the month was about the origins of the climate movement. Taking an escalator upward in time, the post discussed the bare necessities of the movement. Starting with early civilizations and progressing to the floors of the present, the shift is thought is evident, alarming, and hopeful. Rodney, Victor and Warda shared content on topics including  sustainability, BIPOC led initiatives in architecture & design, and the social responsibilities architects have in and outside of the profession.You can check out Moid’s blog posts, or Victor and Rodneys Podcasts ArchiTea and Futur.Arch on the AIAS Audio Experience.

The Sustainability and Resiliency Task Force curated the week’s content with previous discussions about sustainability and resiliency, current events, and guest speakers. During this week, each quad was highlighted to identify important climate issues, and members of the Task Force and their schools were highlighted to show the amazing things our team is doing across the country. On the technical side, green building software can seem unattainable or too incomprehensible for students, so they discussed different tools everyone can use to begin to understand how to design and analyze our buildings to these standards. They also referenced our Best Practices Guide that was designed for students and chapters to use to make small changes individually, as a chapter, and in their community. Throughout the week, they polled students on their sustainability knowledge and found that many students were knowledgeable about sustainability overall, and hopefully they were able to begin to break down more specific topics throughout the week.

For the Social Justice Task Force’s week of Advocacy Month, they focused efforts on showing the membership what they have in store for their upcoming Advocacy Packet. They showed specific sections from our packet such as advocating for yourself, someone else, and for a cause in our main posts. On the story, the committee wanted to know how our membership felt about advocacy and asked for their views and opinions on advocacy. Overall, the Social Justice Task Force learned that our membership advocates for others and has also been advocated for in the past.

During Advocacy Month all four Working Groups of the Learning & Teaching Culture Advisory Group (LTCAG)  created some awesome content! Apart from the Health & Wellness group, who facilitated the programs and content of Health & Wellness Week (the wrap up post to which can be found here), we heard from the Learning & Teaching Culture Policy group, the Education & Accessibility group and the Advocacy Within Culture group. 

A year into a global pandemic, students now more than ever are looking for new ways to prioritize their mental and physical health. The pandemic has certainly taken a toll on students everywhere, but as a special addition to Advocacy Month, the AIAS wanted to encourage our members to advocate for themselves. The first national AIAS Health and Wellness Week took place from the 22nd of March through the 26th and aimed to raise awareness of health and wellness among architecture students by providing resources throughout the week and holding events that focused on different aspects of health and wellness.

Centered around the theme of “Get ______”, each day emphasized the little things we can do each day to make a big difference in our overall health and wellness.

  • Get Out- March 22nd On Monday, we kicked off the week with some much needed “me time.” On this day, we encouraged members to take some time doing whatever makes them happy, and at the end of the day we hopped onto Google Meets to celebrate the start of Health and Wellness Week with a social hour!
  • Get Active- March 23rd On Tuesday, our members got active! If you hopped onto our virtual yoga session, you saw we had some unfortunate technical difficulties. But the day was saved by a member who happened to be amazing at yoga – Ryan Franchak, who showed us all that yoga is a lot harder than it looks. Thanks again, Ryan!
  • Get Connected- March 24th Mental health check! On Wednesday we had an amazing discussion following the THRIVE Webinar. AIAS members once again showed us how strong of leaders they are, and a casual mental health check quickly turned into a critique on oppressive institutions of architecture, a conversation that many of us are eager to continue.
  • Get Educated- March 25th  On Thursday, we encouraged our Chapters to do some research into their LTCP, and discover what policies your school may have in place that encourage or hinder a healthy lifestyle. Our team wanted to share some national mental health resources on this day as well, but we opted to hold off and give these critical resources and our members the time and attention they deserve. Stay tuned – we are eager to get these out to everyone in the coming months.
  • Get Involved- March 26th For our final day of Health and Wellness Week, we wanted to take some time to discuss what the future looks like. We encouraged our members to take action on the things they learned throughout the week, and make change in your educational community. We wrapped up the week with a Learning and Teaching Culture Advisory Group Town Hall.

Throughout the week we complied song suggestions from our members that they connect with each days theme. If you ever want to get into the spirit of Health and Wellness Week, check out our themed Spotify playlists!

The LTCP group shared some important statistics on Learning & Teaching Culture Policies, gave some tips on creating or rewriting your own school’s policy and provided resources for you to do so! All chapters and students leaders should be involved in the creation and revision of these policies, so if you need help with the first steps get in touch with the LTCAG at ltc@aias.org. Next the Education & Accessibility group shared some strategies for more equitable distribution of resources and information, as well as some thoughts and research on the financial accessibility of architecture school and what we can do to help. Finally, the Advocacy Within Culture group gave us (with some awesome animations) the “Who What When Where How of Advocating” and the “Roadmap to Start Advocating”, complete with tips on addressing difficult conversations you’ll have on your advocacy journey.

Did you see all of the great Advocacy Month Content? Check out the @aias_advocacy Instagram page and be sure to like your favorite posts! Share the ideas and resources with your friends and challenge each other to practice Advocacy all year long.