Bridge Building, Intersectionality and Inclusion
The University of Arizona (UA) is large, public, land-grant institution that serves the UA campus and local community. For three years, the UA Libraries have been creating and growing a co-working and maker space called the iSpace. At the heart of the mission has been to create a safe and inclusive space for the entire community, from students, staff, and faculty, to the broader community we serve. We have intentionally created partnerships and designed events to cultivate a diverse user group, and to counteract the dominant structures that often accompany the maker movement. We aim to bring users into our spaces who may not traditionally identify as a "maker," and cultivate a community that is responsive, reflective and creative of the diversity of our population overall. This panel will outline partnerships and events that have been deliberately designed for inclusivity.
Key initiatives in democratizing tech access include hosting the Southwest’s first women’s-only hackathon. On the surface level, the event may seem to be exclusive, however the event cultivated a diverse representation of women-identified participants across an articulation of classes, races, ages, and abilities. Teens To Tech is an outreach program designed specifically for local area high schools to visit the iSpace and have hands-on, personalized introductions to emerging technologies like virtual reality and 3D printing. This program complements the extensive Early Academic Outreach efforts by campus as a whole. Additionally, graduate students from the Knowledge River program at the School of Information have designed and hosted iSpace Mixers to introduce underrepresented communities to an environment where they can see possibilities are endless and foster their sense of belonging.
These events and partnerships will serve as a case study to explore the possibilities of inclusion and bridge building through campus and community partnerships.