Diversity at RISD is a tricky issue. It does not just mean non-white non-Americans, but a mix of students from different backgrounds, socio-economic status, culture, and race. The predominant theme that categorizes RISD is white, upper-middle class, Christian female. There is also a large population of Koreans on campus and several other Asian ethnicities, but in general, there is not a whole lot of diversity. On the positive side, students make the most of the diversity that does exist at RISD, and most benefit from learning about one another and how people from different cultures and artistic backgrounds approach art and design problems. Most studio classes are set up to allow all students in the class to participate in critiques. Of course, everyone gives their input based on their personal backgrounds, aesthetics, and beliefs, so by having a diverse range of students in these intimate situations, there is a great deal of aesthetic exchange, and many students are able to expand their understanding of what their art can be. Especially relevant conversations center on gender politics in art, cultural identity, and product design for a world market.
There are always continuous efforts to expand the diversity of students at RISD. Most recently, there was a special effort made to financially assist students coming from poorer countries. These small strides are fully supported and sometimes initiated by the students. As RISD continues to make it easier for students from different backgrounds to come together, the new mix of students will be welcomed with open arms. The international and minority students that are at RISD enrich all students’ experiences, and the students are happy to have one another.