Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2018 – Buffalo: Beth Tauke

Beth Tauke

Beth Tauke is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture – School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, and project director in the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA), an internationally regarded research center on universal design in the built environment. She has been at the University at Buffalo since 1985, and has served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Chair of the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

Professor Tauke’s research focuses on design education and inclusive design, especially the empowerment of underrepresented groups through design. She has served as principal investigator of three National Endowment for the Arts leadership grants: Universal Design Identity Program, Bridging the Gap: Increasing Access to Universal Design to Meet the Needs of African American Communities, and The State of Universal Design Education in University-Level Design Curricula.

Tauke is a founder and current editor of Universal Design Education Online, the primary website for UD education. Her publications include over one hundred book chapters, and articles in academic journals and conference proceedings. She co-edited Universal Design: New York (2001) and Diversity and Design: Understanding the Hidden Consequences (2015) and co-authored Inclusive Design: Implementation and Evaluation (2017).

Beth has been recognized with a National Institute for Architectural Education Award, the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture Robert R. Taylor Award, an American Institute of Architecture/ Western New York Mentor Award, the Gary Day Outstanding Teaching Award, the Lilly Endowment Teaching Fellowship, the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2014 President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring.

She is a long-time participant in the Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s Architecture + Education Program, which received the American Institute of Architecture’s National Diversity Award in 2013. This ten-week immersive program uses architecture to teach Buffalo Public School students core subjects such as math, science, history, and social studies. In the past ten years, over 3500 students have participated in the program.

Tauke’s primary professional goal is to encourage universities to include courses in their general education or core programs that address the relationship between design and diversity issues. She sees this as an essential element of 21st century education. Teaching her American Diversity and Design course online has provided her with a way to pursue that goal. More students from across the SUNY campuses can take the course, and, therefore, explore ways that design can be both a response to and a catalyst for social change. Their online conversations are rich in critical reflection and innovative thinking—far richer than a live classroom conversation because 1) students have time to consider their comments before sharing them with others, 2) everyone in each discussion group participates, 3) they are not limited by classroom size and/or the time length of a live class, and 4) students regularly respond to other students’ comments and these often result in new ideas and ways of thinking about issues.

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