International Design

Education Session - Panel Format

SAT-A05 - How Minecraft Is Helping the United Nations Improve the World

Saturday, October 20
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: 117


Block by Block is a nonprofit partnership between Mojang and UN-Habitat, which uses Minecraft to empower youth and women in the developing world. This global initiative improves the planning process by giving communities the opportunity to show decision makers how they would like to see their cities in the future.

Learning Objectives:

Pontus Westerberg

Digital Projects Officer

Pontus manages projects related to digital technology, open data and smart cities at UN-Habitat, the UN programme for sustainable cities. He coordinates Block by Block, an innovative programme that uses Minecraft, one of the world's most popular video games, as a citizen participation tool in urban design projects. He has recently completed a smart city masterplan for the government of Rwanda and implemented various digital technology projects in Nairobi's informal settlements. With a civil society background, he has a BSc in Economics & International Development and an MA in Global Media.


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Pamela M. Galera, ASLA, LEED AP

Principal Project Planner
City of Anaheim

Pamela Galera is the Principal Landscape Architect for City of Anaheim Parks with 30 years of experience in designing public spaces. She believes strongly that a well-designed, integrated and meaningful public environment is essential to the wellbeing of all residents. Through her collaborative efforts, she has had a positive impact on policy makers, allied professionals, colleagues, students, and the communities of Southern California. Most recently, Galera has been working to expand the urban interface of the Anaheim River Walk on the Santa Ana River with a network of natural habitats, parks, plazas, bike paths and trails.


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Richard Barrett, ASLA

MIG, Inc.

Rick Barrett is urban planner and designer with over 30 years of experience in community planning and urban design. His projects include work in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America. Rick's design work has ranged from large cities to smaller towns and villages, and extensive waterfront and open space planning. His work is very inclusive and sustainable, and has included all age groups with a range of abilities in the creative problem-solving process. Ultimately his work is focused on getting projects built in the most efficient, fun, and cost-effective manner possible.


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Deirdre Quarnstrom

Director, Block by Block Foundation and General Manager, Minecraft Education
Minecraft Education, Microsoft

Deirdre Quarnstrom is a General Manager for Minecraft Education, responsible for strategy, product development and community engagement for the video game Minecraft used in educational settings. Deirdre also serves as a Director on the board of Block by Block, a non-profit partnership between Mojang and UN-Habitat which uses Minecraft to empower women and youth in the developing world and is a trustee on the board of the French American School of Puget Sound. She holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from McGill University in Montreal and MBA from Seattle University. Deirdre, her husband and their two daughters live in Seattle.


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SAT-A05 - How Minecraft Is Helping the United Nations Improve the World

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