Nathan Johnson Selected as Bush Foundation Fellow

Nathan Johnson

Architectural Technology faculty member Nathan Johnson was selected as one of the Bush Foundation’s 2021 Fellows, a group of visionary individuals who are leading transformative change in their communities.

The Bush Fellowship provides Fellows with up to $100,000 over 12 to 24 months to pursue education and learning experiences that help them develop the skills and relationships to foster large-scale change in their communities and region. Each individual selected is seeking to be a stronger leader and greater force for justice and equity.

Johnson grew up in South Minneapolis seeing a deep need for people of color to have a more equitable role in creating buildings and spaces in their communities. He wants design and construction processes to change to be more inclusive and to have greater economic impact for communities of color.

“When I worked on the Rondo Commemorative Plaza, I observed how a small project with broad input can catalyze a large-scale proposal for change,” said Johnson. “ I want to encourage the fields of architecture and construction to take a leading role in creating economic and racial justice.”

Johnson will visit cities around the world to develop new models for community-engaged development, studying leadership methods that inspire equitable solutions and leading efforts to diversify the architecture profession.

As Johnson went through the Fellowship selection process, he had an opportunity to hone his ambitions through the application and interviews. “I knew I wanted to create greater equity in design and construction and believe it’s important to touch people at all educational levels,” said Johnson, who opened himself up emotionally through the application process by sharing his own story of pain, support and inspiration.

“This Fellowship provides me an opportunity to listen to the voices within communities throughout the world and change the way we think and do things to create economic benefits for communities of color.” Among the communities Johnson plans to study include Santiago, Cuba, where the Cuban Revolution began n 1953 and Fez, a city in northern inland Morocco founded during the 8th–9th centuries.  

Johnson joined Minneapolis College in 2003, providing him numerous opportunities to have real conversations with students from all walks of life. “I aspire to change entrenched systems to encourage greater equality in the industry,” said Johnson. “Racial equity is something we all own. Each one of us can take part in impacting change, teaching the next leaders to think more inclusively and to innovate in new ways.”

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