Sharon Egretta Sutton
Dr Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA, is a distinguished visiting professor of architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York, and has also served on the faculties of Pratt Institute, Columbia University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan and the University of Washington. She was the twelfth African American woman to be licensed to practice architecture, the first to be promoted to full professor of architecture, and the second to be elected a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects.
Dr Sutton’s scholarship explores America’s continuing struggle for racial justice. Her latest book, When Ivory Towers Were Black: A Story about Race in Americas Cities and Universities (Fordham 2017), portrays what was undoubtedly the nation’s most audacious effort to recruit black and Puerto Rican students to the fields of architecture and planning.
Early in her career, Dr Sutton worked as a professional musician in New York City, most notably in the original cast of Man of La Mancha. Her fine art is in the Library of Congress and has been widely exhibited and collected. She holds five academic degrees—in music, architecture, philosophy and psychology—and has studied graphic art internationally.
Dr Sutton received the Whitney M Young Jr Award from the American Institute of Architects and the Medal of Honor from both the New York and Seattle chapters of that organisation. She is a distinguished professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and an inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Keynote Lecture Abstract
Activists Transforming Injustice - This Is What Change Looks Like
Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA
This keynote lecture begins by recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments of activists for gender equity in the built environment professions, who have zoomed in on the workplace to see how excluded individuals can gain influence and notoriety within their disciplines. It documents the progress of these activists in addressing inequities related to salaries, mentoring, career advancement, sexual harassment, and the lack of work-life balance, among other unjust conditions. While recognizing these achievements, this lecture calls for an entirely different approach to activism.
It challenges participants to begin their pursuit of gender equity by looking outward at today’s devastating social and ecological challenges, among them a gap in housing affordability that has left millions of families worldwide living in substandard housing, paying inordinate amounts of their income for housing, or homeless altogether; an increasing level of migration as one in seven of the earth’s population flees native soil due to war, poverty, famine, natural disasters, and a host of other push factors; and—notably—the long-term increase in the planet’s overall temperature combined with the overuse and misuse of resources as evidenced by rolling blackouts, food and water shortages, oceans filled with plastic, denuded forests, and diminished biodiversity.
This lecture envisions built environment professionals who advance equity by digging deep into the well of feminist know-how. It asks them to facilitate community problem solving around today’s ruinous social and ecological challenges, and offers them strategies for doing so, including (1) collaborating with communities to develop a shared consciousness of the root causes of problems, (2) facilitating collective action on community-led initiatives and (3) creating interdisciplinary partnerships with the expertise to improve both the social and spatial world.
Rather than engaging in inward-looking careerism, this lecture dares built environment professionals to accomplish an equitable future, not for themselves, but for the society they serve.
Activists transforming injustice – This is what change looks like
Keynote presentation by Sharon Egretta Sutton
Sharon Egretta Sutton dares built environment professionals to accomplish an equitable future, not for themselves, but for the society they serve. She will challenge participants to begin their pursuit of gender equity by looking outward at today’s devastating social and ecological challenges. This keynote envisions built environment professionals who advance equity by digging deep into the well of feminist know-how. It asks them to facilitate community problem solving around today’s ruinous social and ecological challenges, and offers them strategies for doing so.