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Makeba Jones Design@Large Design Lab

Makeba Jones (UC San Diego)

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 4:00 P.M.

*All Winter 2021 Design@Large talks will be hosted online. This aligns with UC San Diego policy that all events be hosted virtual during the Winter 2021 quarter.


Designing Schools for Equity and Excellence

In this talk, Dr. Jones will discuss the historic context of school reform in the United States, and the ways in which societal attitudes about “difference” have influenced the narrative about educational equity and academic excellence. Specifically, societal norms about race and intelligence have undermined equity-oriented school reform efforts by framing equity as incompatible with academic excellence. Understanding how ideas about race and intelligence have influenced the design of education helps us see the ways in which this false narrative serves white supremacist notions. Interrogating this narrative also helps us understand how inequality is built into the foundation of public education. The talk will discuss approaches to school transformation that deliberately center educational equity and academic excellence. These innovative approaches are models for designing schools where anti-racism, inclusiveness, and academic excellence are core values.


Dr. Makeba Jones is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Education Studies at UC San Diego. Dr. Jones’s expertise, research, and professional experiences include educational equity, the social and cultural organization of schools, urban school reform, student engagement, youth leadership/development, youth transitions to college, and teacher professional learning. She has collaborated with teachers, students, and administrators on a range of school improvement initiatives and youth development projects for under-served communities of color across San Diego county for over 20 years.


Design@Large is a speaker series that is hosted by The Design Lab at UCSD, where each quarter we examine a topic in society and the relevance and implications through the lens of human centered design.

Co-hosted by Elizabeth Eikey and Edward Wang and developed in partnership with Carrie Sawyer, Design@Large this quarter (and next) is focused on racism in the design of everyday things across a range of topics, such as artificial intelligence, linguistics, education, and more. Each topic area will help shed light on the historical context of racism and the consequences of “designing” without understanding racism’s deep roots, as well as provide examples of anti-racist and equitable approaches in practice. Too often we want to jump straight to action, but without building our capacity to understand racism (and other “isms”) and critically evaluating its impact, we perpetuate racism and inequality – even with the best intentions. Through an exciting lineup of speakers, this series begins to make connections between history and designing and aims to promote awareness around the lifelong practice of anti-racist work across a variety of interconnected domains.

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