AUWCL Partners with AU’s School of Education and Antiracist Research and Policy Center for Annual Summer Institute on Education, Equity, and Justice

June 22, 2020

AUWCL Dean Camille Nelson, right, talks with SOE Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy during SIEEJ's day one opening discussion.
AUWCL Dean Camille Nelson, right, talks with SOE Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy during SIEEJ's day one opening discussion.

American University Washington College of Law is once again proud to partner with AU’s School of Education (SOE), along with the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, to present the Summer Institute on Education, Equity, and Justice (SIEEJ).

The third annual institute, held virtually this summer June 22-24, was created by SOE for the purpose of advocating for inclusive learning environments through research, teaching, service and community outreach. This year’s conference theme is Uplifting Women and Girls of Color through Antiracist Pedagogy, Practice, and Policies.

“We have a dream team of extraordinary scholars, leaders, and advocates of antiracist education with us this year, from African American studies, law, higher education, counselor education, teacher education, criminal justice, and policy studies,” said SOE Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy during her virtual welcome to attendees.

The institute's workshops, conducted by experts in the field, focus on educational, legal, and health implications for young people of color. SIEEJ’s overall goal is to build a community of practice singularly focused on the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the lives of young people of color and the communities in which they live. Sessions are designed to change both mindsets and practices (i.e. alternatives to suspension/punishment; strategies to instill a culture of engagement).

This year’s institute features sessions on the topics of criminalization of young girls of color; women and mental health amid COVID-19; learning in a digital age; social justice in higher education; and antiracist strategies and tactics in teaching. The event also features a yoga session, a student panel discussion on the lived experiences of women and girls of color, and a book discussion led by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, on racism and antiracism as it relates to his book, Stamped from the Beginning.

AUWCL Dean Camille Nelson served as a keynote speaker during day one of the institute, delivering an opening address that touched on a number of recorded police-involved killings of Black and trans women. She discussed how these recordings can be both highly valuable, given the disbelief people of color often encounter in relaying allegations of police brutality, and how vicariously traumatizing repeatedly seeing such brutality can be, especially for adolescents. Nelson said even at school, Black and Brown children are often disparately exposed to elements of the criminal legal system often from a young age.

“To those that are teachers, counselors, diversity inclusion experts in schools, resource leaders – so much of the policing narrative starts earlier and earlier with the school to prison pipeline, and the ways in which we are turning our schools into little prisons and jails with heavy doses of criminalization,” Nelson said. “When it comes to girls of color in school, the disparate numbers around detention and suspension…beg the question of discretion. How do you exercise your discretion, especially when you know that these instances persist and there are disparities between white kids and kids of color? I ask that we pause and think about, in the educational context, what we are doing – when we are pushing kids out of school, we are pushing them, in many cases, into the criminal justice system.”

You can learn more about SIEEJ and register for free for upcoming sessions here