A Community Message from Dean Mohsen Mostafavi

Mohsen MostafaviDear GSD Community,

On Friday afternoon President Trump signed an executive order that has closed the United States’ borders to refugees and citizens of seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Implemented immediately, the order has generated confusion and chaos around its reach and its full ramifications. We have been hearing news about travelers with legitimate visas and green cards being prevented from boarding planes or having been detained at airports. Among you are students, faculty, and staff who are or will be directly affected, and others who have friends and family who will in some way be affected as well.

Let me be clear that the intolerance and prejudice signaled by this action cut against the core values that the GSD stands for. Its spirit runs counter to our collective commitment to inclusion and to cultivating a diversity of people, ideas, and perspectives, the necessary ingredients of healthy and productive discourse and responsible citizenship. While we must expect even more significant changes and greater turbulence from the political sphere, we must be strong in standing together and must not waver from the core values that unite us as a community. 

Toward that end, we will convene a town hall meeting to discuss how we can support each other through this challenging moment, and how we can mobilize to effect positive change amid the divisiveness and discrimination that have come to define our current political environment. I am eager to hear and participate in a dialogue about everyone’s ideas. You can expect to receive more details this week.

Many of you will have questions about the effects of Friday’s order and how they relate to you or your loved ones. A federal judge has now blocked part of the order, a principled response against this unjust action. The school’s administration is working hard to understand specifically what impact the order will have, and more information will be shared as soon as possible. In the meantime, students who have concerns that require immediate attention should contact our Dean of Students. Faculty with visa concerns should contact our Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs. I also encourage you to talk to each other, share what you know, and lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it. In taking care of each other, we infuse our creative efforts with the respect, hospitality, and generosity inherent to the kind of just world we aspire to build.


Mohsen Mostafavi is Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.