Transportation, Race and Equity: A Syllabi Resource List for Faculty

Over the past few months, prompted in part by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black lives, there has been increased focus on the role that the transportation and planning professions play in systemic racism. There have been calls for our field to be anti-racist and be better allies. Thousands of us watched webinars led by Jay Pitter on anti-Black racism in urbanist practices with Orlando Bailey, Tamika Butler, Anthonia Ogundele, and Will Prosper. Destiny Thomas warned us that our pandemic-inspired closing of streets to cars may not be safe for Black lives. There have been great discussions on Twitter, including one led by Charles Brown asking why white allies speak up or not, and another from Keith Benjamin with existing resources from people and organizations who have been working on the issue for years.

I, like many of you, have been reading, listening, watching, discussing, and learning. At TREC we started developing an anti-racism and equity action plan to help guide our work. As a professor who teaches transportation courses, I thought that an obvious action step would be to improve course syllabi to incorporate racial equity. My academic department had conducted a review of the syllabi for our core courses, including how many readings and assignments were on topics of race and equity, and how many authors were women or people of color. This is an activity I know is happening in many departments. After doing so, most of us will see changes to make. Summer is when faculty start to revise syllabi for the fall. I thought someone might have compiled some good reading lists and started searching for them. I found several lists about race and urbanism, urban planning, and design, but not much focused on transportation. And, nothing that was geared at university faculty and course syllabi, not to mention covering the full range of transportation planning and engineering. So, I started compiling such a list. I asked on social media and through email lists for suggestions and for people to collaborate. Kendra Levine, the awesome librarian at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Transportation Studies, and Jesus Barajas, a professor at UC Davis who has done great research on transportation equity, joined me in the effort.

As a result, we’re now happy to share Transportation, Race and Equity: A Syllabi Resource List for Faculty. The objective is to collect readings and other resources that university faculty can use in their courses on transportation planning and engineering, so that we can better address issues of racism, equity, and justice in our field. A few points (read the page for more):

  • The focus is on racial equity, though there are some resources on gender and disability/accessibility.
  • This is an evolving and expanding list. The current list is mainly readings, with some videos and other multimedia resources.
  • Many of the references on the list are peer-reviewed journal articles that may be behind paywalls, which faculty and students should be able to access through their libraries. Moving forward, I hope that more resources are open source.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive resource on research or readings on race, equity, and transportation. We want it to focus on the types of readings and resources that will be effective as part of a university course syllabus. The list is also not, in itself, the solution to advancing equity and anti-racism in our courses. And, of course, revising a syllabus is just one of many actions we must take.

If you have feedback and ideas, or want to collaborate, let me know. There are lots of ways we could improve and expand on this effort.

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