SAH Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accountability, and Sustainability (IDEAS) Initiative

As SAH celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2020, the organization’s leadership has developed a plan that will shape SAH into the diverse and sustainable academic society it aspires to be at its 100th anniversary. At this moment, we wish to engage the SAH membership, leadership, and architectural historians everywhere to think about how the organization should evolve. The SAH IDEAS Initiative will serve as a conceptual framework to both evaluate and, where necessary, change SAH’s systems and policies. Using the core concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion as a foundation, we have expanded the scope of our work through the IDEAS acronym which encompasses Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accountability and Sustainability.

The SAH IDEAS Initiative will inform SAH’s 2021–2025 strategic plan that is underway now, as well as future strategic plans that will be written in the next 20 years. Beginning in 2020, the Initiative has set SAH in motion, examining its status quo and implementing activities for meaningful and sustainable change in all areas including membership, programs, publications, fellowships, awards, opportunities, advocacy, outreach, and every aspect of SAH’s work. The SAH Affiliate Groups form a foundation for core aspects of the Initiative.

SAH IDEAS Committee

Valentina Davila, PhD Candidate, McGill University (Co-Chair)
Jennifer Tate, University of Texas at Austin (Co-Chair)
Matthew Knox Averett, Creighton University
Charles L. Davis II, University at Buffalo
Lynne Horiuchi, Independent Scholar
S.N. (JR) Johnson-Roehr, Ann Beha Architects
Sean McPherson, Bridgewater State University
David Rifkind, Florida International University
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Barnard College, Columbia University
Olivier Vallerand, Arizona State University
Armaghan Ziaee, University of North Texas
Victoria Young, SAH President, University of St. Thomas, Ex Officio
Pauline Saliga, SAH Executive Director, Ex Officio
Helena Dean, SAH Director of Communications, Ex Officio

Action Items

SAH commits to implementing the SAH IDEAS Initiative by working continuously on the following ten action items, many of which are underway:

  • Weaving the values of the SAH IDEAS Initiative into every SAH strategic plan, membership plan, program, publication, fellowship, award, opportunity, advocacy effort, outreach effort, committee, nomination, communication, and leadership role.

This is underway through an updated Career Center policy that supports pay equity, new appointments, the launch of issue-oriented virtual programs, review of publications content and policies, open calls for committees and board nominations, and development of a new strategic plan with many diverse voices involved in decision making.

  • Providing new forums and supporting diverse voices for discussion, debate, publication, programming and sharing of cutting-edge scholarship about underrepresented groups and the history of the built environment.

This is underway through sessions at the SAH 2022 Pittsburgh conference, SAH CONNECTS online programs, creation of SAH Commons, and establishment of SAH Affiliate Groups on race, women, interior architecture, and the environment, as they relate to the history of the built environment.   

SAH will present the inaugural SAH IDEAS Session at its 2022 Annual International Conference in Pittsburgh. Titled “Radical Methods, New Interlocutors: Strategies for Equitable Histories,” the session will be chaired by Arijit Sen, University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  • Proactively seeking new SAH leadership from scholars and practitioners who are people of color and other underrepresented groups.

This is underway with appointments and open calls for nominations of diverse candidates for board and committees.

  • Creating a pipeline for minority SAH leadership by proactively seeking new members from underrepresented groups.

This is underway with new appointments and open calls for board, committees, honors, and fellowships. 

SAH has launched the inaugural call for applications to award five SAH IDEAS Research Fellowships. They have been established to support a cohort of five emerging scholars per year, self-identifying as members of groups historically marginalized by SAH and the Academy at large.

  • Implementing new transparent procedures for recruitment and retention at every level of SAH’s work.

This is underway by formalizing and moving online all nomination and self-nomination processes.

  • Proactively soliciting articles, keynote speakers and conference sessions on a variety of topics that focus on marginalized groups and structural racism including immigration, gender studies, race studies, feminism, minorities, effects of climate change on minority populations, and architectural histories of underrepresented cultures and regions.

This is underway with the organization of the SAH 2022 Pittsburgh conference; review of SAH publications, fellowships and awards; the creation of SAH Affiliate Groups; initiation of new online programs; and the creation of JSAH Roundtables, collections of short essays that explore new research directions through a variety of lenses, published alongside full-length articles in JSAH.

SAH was awarded a Graham Foundation grant to SAH Archipedia to add twenty recently written essays that examine U.S. sites and settlements of under-represented and marginalized groups. 

We are raising funds to create SAH/Places Prize on Race and the Built Environment. The first prize will be awarded in 2022.

  • Reflecting on SAH’s institutional history to better understand how the organization has contributed to unconscious bias and structural racism.

This is underway and ongoing starting with SAH staff and Executive Committee before moving to the Board and membership.

  • Creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which will meet regularly and engage in discussion with the SAH Board to keep SAH accountable and to continue to embed the values of the IDEAS Initiative into all SAH does.

The SAH IDEAS Committee was established in January 2021. The Committee, co-chaired by Valentina Davila and Jennifer Tate, meets each month and the Committee co-chairs participate in SAH Board discussions as ex officio members.

  • Organization-wide, working toward raising consciousness about DEI issues and taking leadership roles in addressing issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, accountability, and sustainability.

The SAH staff is going through DEI training and the officers and board are actively discussing issues of DEI with regard to all decisions being made.

  • Organization-wide, listening and accepting feedback on this list of goals and shaping and reshaping it in an informed, iterative process.

These conversations will begin in January 2022 as part of the SAH Strategic Planning process.

SAH would like all members to reach out at any time with concerns regarding IDEAS. It is imperative that we all take ownership of this important work. To submit feedback, please email SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610