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Thursday, June 8 • 2:10pm - 2:30pm
Making, Not Breaking: Resilience and Inclusive Making in the Era of COVID-19

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Many educational institutions find themselves, in the wake of years of emergency remote learning, newly re-dedicated to in-person activities. Participants and educators alike approach these events cautiously, but with newfound appreciation for the types of activities that cannot be accomplished virtually. This paper urges those who are venturing into the world of hands-on learning to be deliberate in the spaces you create and the activities you cultivate, and to use these opportunities to help build resilient, inclusive communities. Collective making, especially in a learning environment, is an opportunity to be mindful of all of the ways material objects carry the weight of social systems: including but not limited to questions of consumption, wealth inequality, sustainability, and accessibility.

Based on case studies of spaces at the NYU-Gallatin School, located in Manhattan at the epicenter of the pandemic, this paper demonstrates how hands-on making, particularly projects that include some element of critical reflection, functions as a form of community building before, during, and in the aftermath of the height of COVID-19. Then, drawing from the creation of three spaces (a makerspace, an art/science collective and a shared studio space) as well as the work of a critical making research team, the paper presents locally-contingent best practices for the creation of an inclusive, student run and student centered experiential learning space.

Our space creation methods are informed by the work of Donna Haraway, Sara DiGiordano, Ellen K. Foster, Matt Ratto, Christina Dunbar-Hester, Eve Tuck, Ruha Benjamin and Sara Ahmed - among others. While recognizing the importance of terms like inclusivity and resilience, one cannot embrace these concepts without criticism - especially within the University (Ahmed), or within a larger captialist, imperialist structure, where "diversity" has become, in and of itself, a tool for commerce (Benjamin). Making truely safer spaces is

The final recommendations from our practice center on four principles: start sparse, partner with constituents, invite people multiple ways, and compensate everyone. The paper discusses the impacts of each of these principles, and then, recognizing our situated, specific knowledge, argues for greater networks of sharing between maker and creative spaces as localized sites of knowledge creation.


Cyd Cipolla

Associate Director of Science, Tech, Arts and Creativity, New York University

Thursday June 8, 2023 2:10pm - 2:30pm EDT
Main 210