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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Chicago’s Austin Community: A Case Study in Creating Equitable STEM Hyper Local Learning Ecosystems

One’s census tract continues to predict one's access to the learning experiences research shows are essential for developing the skills, identity and interests necessary to access and power STEM possible futures. While this reality is not new, the advancement in technology and data science coupled with America’s growing awareness of the embeddedness of systemic racism has created opportunities for communities to reimagine the use of civic places, spaces, and policies to create opportunities for youth to engage in safe and accessible STEAM learning experience across home, school, and community.

In this Northwestern Buffet "Building Sustainable Futures: Global Challenges and Possibilities" webinar, learning scientist Nichole Pinkard and Chicago Medal of Honor Recipient Natasha Smith-Walker shared examples and frameworks based upon lessons learned in a multi-year collaboration to reimagine partnerships with the community and civic institutions to build pathways and on-roads to STEM in ways that connect to the community. Austin serves as the demonstration community leveraging community value holders (parks, community-based organizations, schools, etc.)

This dialogue was part of the Northwestern Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs’ "Building Sustainable Futures: Global Challenges and Possibilities" webinar series, which focuses on a different United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) each quarter. This quarter, we’re focused on UN SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities—exploring the infrastructures upholding today’s ballooning inequalities as well as the steps some are taking to build a more egalitarian future. This and other spring 2021 webinars focused on UN SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities are co-sponsored by the Northwestern University Community for Human Rights.