Liberatory Design in Complex Systems
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Upcoming Offerings:

How can we be more courageous and proactive as leaders for equity in a constantly changing environment?

What practices do we need to interrupt now, and how do we strategize for an unknown future?

How can I connect my day-to-day work with long-term systems change given my identity and role?

Whether it’s implementing a district-wide equity initiative, addressing disproportionality in discipline, or redesigning entire schools, many education leaders approach their system’s challenges and change initiatives as complicated problems to solve. But equity challenges are more than complicated – they are complex – so emergent solutions must be found through dynamic interactions of diverse people and networks working together. Leaders in complex systems must be skilled at balancing both technical and relational approaches.

This Institute introduce NEP’s Leading for Equity (LFE) framework and SEA Methods (See, Engage and Act) as way to expand equity consciousness and move beyond a perpetual (and often inadequate) cycles of improvement toward more dynamic approaches to problem solving and decision-making. Participants will explore process and planning tools that can match the level of complexity in their situation and context. Consideration will be given on how to link day-to-day activities with a long-term vision of equity, even in a changing and unpredictable world.

In collaboration with the Stanford’s K-12 Lab, we have prototyped a design approach—Liberatory Design—that meshes design thinking with an equity lens and complexity stance. The third day centers on Liberatory Design and how to actually approach equity- and complexity-informed design work in your system.

Participants will:

  • Develop an understanding of the inherent tensions, contradictions and uncertainty in leading for equity in complex systems
  • Use a complex systems and systemic oppression lens to assess your system’s opportunities and challenges
  • Learn a framework and approach for problem-identification, decision-making, and taking action in your system
  • Reflect on your own leadership, given your identity, role, and responsibilities — and generate ideas about possible next moves regarding an equity challenge you are facing.

Who Should Attend

District Office Managers & Directors, DEI and Directors of Equity, Program Directors, School Leaders, Board Members, Foundation leaders, Nonprofit Executive Directors and Managers – anyone charged with implementing initiatives or projects involving multiple people and groups.

Participants are strongly encouraged to come with colleagues from the same context.

Readings & Resources



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