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Understanding Systemic Inequities and Recommending Human-Centered Solutions 

In the pursuit of fostering critical thinking and the urgent need to address a deeper understanding of systemic inequities, our 10th-grade scholars built upon the lessons of who they are and where they are socially located to investigate local issues using a human-centered design approach. 

This past summer, our 10th grade scholars used the 1619 Project to learn how American systems and institutions are deeply impacted by current and historical racist policy. Then, this fall in collaboration with Bloom Works Public Benefit LLC, scholars worked in groups to use human centered design to research and present recommendations on next steps to complex problems in the Seattle area that disproportionately impact communities of color.  

Scholars were given scenarios of complex problems in health care, education, and city planning. They developed a question, conducted research, developed systems maps, interviewed people in their lives that have lived experiences with one of the systems above, and met with local professionals from each field to gather information and propose a recommended plan of action to address the issue.

“One of the hard skills they learned was how to do a proper interview with a specific structure and outlined process, with professionals in the field. This skill is helpful for their future and builds their voice and confidence around these issues,” said Kelabe Tewolde, Associate Director of Leadership Development. One of the most important takeaways from this workshop series is feeling confident in being able to break down large social issues, like an imperfect public education system, into manageable pieces that can be addressed. “We hope that the scaffolding process of human-centered design, gives scholars a structure to lean on to solve a problem, whether in their school or in the community,” said Tewolde.