Critical Race Theory in Education


Critical Race Theory (CRT): a tool for equity and inclusion at PCC.

In November of 2014, Portland Community College’s Board of Directors approved a strategic plan  based on shared values and goals that has become a guide for institutional planning and action.

PCC’s vision, theme five seeks to create a nationally renowned culture for diversity, equity, and inclusion.  A strategy for planning and action, PCC’s strategic vision seeks applies racially conscious systems of analysis, including Critical Race Theory (CRT), to examine and dismantle systems of inequality at the college.  Over the last few years PCC has worked in various ways to engage and practice CRT as a tool for equity and inclusion.

Critical Race Theory in Planning and Design

As part of an integrated approach to ensure that long-term decision making is strategic, inclusive, and mission-focused, PCC has engaged in facilities planning to provide a comprehensive framework for assessing PCC’s built environment and linking future capital and maintenance needs with PCC’s strategic vision. 

A strategy for planning and action, PCC’s 2015 strategic vision seeks to practice racially conscious systems of analysis, including Critical Race Theory (CRT), to examine and dismantle systems of inequality at the college. 

To facilitate this college-wide effort, PCC’s Office of Project and Capital Construction in partnership with Amara H. Pérez has engaged CRT as an equity approach to support institutional change. 

Starting in 2017 as a four-month exploration, the intention of the CRT in Facilities Planning initiative was to examine socio-spatial dimensions of race and the PCC built environment. As a theoretical and praxis-oriented framework, CRT served as a tool to reveal new questions and considerations for aligning PCC facilities with college values of equity and inclusion. 

An Integrated Approach

  • Facilitate CRT trainings and dialogues with the many college staff participating in facilities planning, educational leaders, architectural design consultants, and other stakeholders
  • Develop practical tools that open possibilities to practice CRT in facilities planning in an ongoing way
  • Build a repository of CRT resources for the PCC college community on race, space, and educational settings
  • Conduct a student voice and inquiry project, Space Matters, a participatory action research project that invited students of color to explore CRT and spatial theory as a means to design campus-based inquiry projects that seek to explore relationships between race and space at PCC

Socio-Spatial Equity and Inclusion

Since the inception of the project, working closely with PCC students as co-researchers has resulted in institutional change at the college -- new approaches to architecture selection processes as well as the use of CRT as a central strategy for community engagement and inclusive design in a range of district-wide planning and construction projects including: PCC’s Rock Creek Library Renovation project, the development of the PCC Metro Workforce Training Center, and PCC's Facilities Planning Phase II.

Take 5: PCC Office of Equity and Inclusion, Critical Race Theory Toolkit

Portland Community College aspires to become an institution of higher education that operates with the theory of social justice as part of its foundation, mission and values. We are taking intentional steps as an institution, to make PCC a more inclusive, welcoming learning and working environment... See more

Whiteness History Month Project

The Portland Community College site for Whiteness History Month Project was developed in 2016 for PCC's month-long conversation about Whiteness History.  Whiteness History Month: Context, Consequences and Change was a multidisciplinary, district-wide, educational project examining race and racism through an exploration of the construction of whiteness, its origins and heritage. The project sought to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism. Whiteness History Month, unlike heritage months, was not a celebratory endeavor; rather, it was an effort to change our campus climate. See more...