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Critics Find Diversity Setbacks in New Planning Accreditation Board Standards

The Planning Accreditation Board, the body tasked with the accreditation process of planning programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level, will update its standards over the next month.
November 16, 2015, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Cassie Owens report on the diversity implications of new accreditation standards announced by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) in September, beginning a month-long discussion period this week before they are potentially approved. The standards currently up for consideration would update standards last adopted in April 2012.

According to Owens, the new standards would reduce the requirements for diversity in the racial demographics of both the student body and the faculty.

For students: "Present standards mandate that programs have a student body that reflects regional demographics 'in the aggregate,' as well as established recruitment and retention tactics. They also require universities to document their diversity strategies in progress," explains Owens. The new standards "instead ask that schools 'pro-actively seek to expand opportunity for under-represented minorities…'"

Owens adds: "Faculty diversity standards were similarly rehashed. And notably, a guideline advising that faculties boast 'a range of specialized knowledge' and count alumni from a diverse assortment of universities is set to be scrapped."

The article includes reactions from planners, both in the academic and in the advocacy settings—all of which express disappointment in the changes proposed for the accreditation standards. The article also includes a few suggestions for how the diversity requirements could be improved. For the record, no representative from the PAB is quoted to explain the reasoning behind the change—the article's source on that issue is second hand.

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Published on Thursday, November 12, 2015 in Next City
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