The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) was founded 1877 in Providence, Rhode Island, by members of the Rhode Island Women’s Centennial Commission. The Centennial Women had formed their group to raise money for a separate women’s pavilion at the first World’s Fair in 1876. Their fundraising was hugely successful and a women’s pavilion was built showcasing the artistic, entrepreneurial, literary and scientific skills of America’s women and supporting women’s "economic right to self-sufficiency." Upon completion of the project the Centennial Women had some money left over and, after a discussion and a vote, the group decided to use the funds to establish RSID.
Today, the school has over 2000 students studying a range of art or design-related programs, some of the most popular being photography, painting, ceramics, printmaking and graphic and industrial design. Most of the student body are undergraduates studying for Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees while the school also offers master’s level qualifications. Undergraduate students are also required to take a concentration in English, Art History, Liberal Arts or History, Philosophy and Social Sciences alongside their BFA. RISD has an international population with around 60 countries represented in the student body.
RSID is based on an urban campus with buildings clustered around college hill in the city of Providence. The campus is shared with that of Brown University and the two institutions work closely together, offering joint courses and sharing social and academic facilities.