CUESEF 2022: Beyond "the Crisis": Education for Local and Global Liberation

Held June 22-25, 2022

Thank you to all who joined us at CUESEF 2022! Recorded sessions are available on YouTube.

>> View the full agenda

About CUESEF 2022

“We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how unpopular that word has become in this country,” writes James Baldwin in his 1963 touchstone speech, “A Talk to Teachers.” He continues, “The society in which we live is desperately menaced… from within. To any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible—and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people—must be prepared to ‘go for broke’... you must understand that in the attempt to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty, when it is operating not only in the classroom but in society, you will meet the most fantastic, the most brutal, and the most determined resistance. There is no point in pretending that this won’t happen.”

Baldwin’s words challenge us to critical intervention in our current moment. How do our daily conversations about “crises” in schools and schooling (e.g., teacher shortage, attacks on critical race theory, the digital divide) work to distract us from a larger focus on what Baldwin described as the “generations of bad faith and cruelty” that distinguish the entire system? 

What would it mean to understand the everyday practices of schools and schooling as in and of crisis? How is a “return to normal” still a return to a state of crisis? How might our work shift if we acknowledge that we are not heading toward a crisis, but we have already been existing in one? How might we develop and use our imaginative and creative capacities, not to try to legitimize, tweak, reform, or repackage current structures, but instead to reimagine education as a practice of freedom?

In this year’s free virtual CUESEF, our theme invites our panelists to think with us beyond current “crises”—about teacher shortages, anti-critical race theory policies, and COVID impacts—and into the long-standing struggle for a liberating education, locally and globally. Sessions map possibilities for study and change through examinations of teacher education locally and globally, school leadership, policy contexts, homeschooling, school-prison nexus, food and environmental justice, and more. We hope you will join us.

Read James Baldwin’s “A Talk to Teachers”: A Talk to Teachers - Zinn Education Project (

Meet the Speakers

Cynthia B. Dillard, PhD | @cynthiabdillard
Dean and Professor of Teacher Education, Seattle University College of Education

Dr. Cynthia B. Dillard (Nana Mansa II of Mpeasem, Ghana, West Africa) was recently appointed Dean of the College of Education at Seattle University in February 2022. Prior to this appointment, she served as the Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at The University of Georgia. Her scholarly research interests include critical teacher education, spirituality in education, and African/African American feminist studies. Beyond numerous published articles, book chapters, and scholarly presentations across the globe, two of her books, On spiritual strivings: Transforming an African American woman’s academic life (SUNY Press, 2006) and Learning to (re)member the things we’ve learned to forget: Endarkened feminisms, spirituality and the sacred nature of research (Peter Lang, 2012) were selected as Critics’ Choice Book Award winners by the American Educational Studies Association (AESA). Her fourth book, The spirit of our work: Black women teachers (re)member, was published in November, 2021 with Beacon Press. In addition to receiving numerous awards for her teaching, research and service, Dr. Dillard was awarded the prestigious Taylor and Francis AESA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. She is also the recipient of the 2012 AERA Distinguished Contributions to Gender Equity in Education Research Award, given for her distinguished research and practices that advance public understanding of gender in education and received the Division G Henry T. Trueba Award at the 2016 AERA annual meeting. This prestigious award honors a researcher whose scholarship and teaching has led to the transformation of the social context of education. At UGA, Dr. Dillard also served as the Director of the University of Georgia’s Ghana Study Abroad in Education Program and has founded and directs a preschool and elementary school with her husband in Mpeasem (M-pee-a-sem) in the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa.  There, she also holds the distinct honor of being enstooled as Queen Mother of Development (Nkosua Ohemaa) for the village, an esteemed lifetime position of leadership within the community. She also offers numerous and popular retreats to Ghana, West Africa through her small business, Full Circle Retreats Ghana. In addition, Dr. Dillard serves as the Executive Director and President of GIVE.BUILD.SHARE, a nonprofit organization designed to support educational opportunities for children and families by building schools in Ghana. 

Sonya Douglass
Professor of Education Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University

Professor Sonya Douglass examines the problem of racial inequality in K-12 schools and how race is conceptualized and understood by leaders for equity and social justice in the U.S. She is particularly interested in how education leaders come to know race within equity, diversity, and inclusion discourses and how this knowledge informs and is informed by their leadership ideologies, epistemologies, and practices. Her interests include: education policy, politics, and leadership; school segregation and desegregation; critical race theory in education; Black and African American education and leadership; and leadership for social justice.

Cheryl Fields-Smith
Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, University of Georgia

Dr. Fields-Smith is an Associate Professor of Elementary Education at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Effective August 2022, Dr. Fields-Smith will be promoted to Full Professor. She serves as Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Educational Theory and Practice. Dr. Fields-Smith earned her doctorate from Emory University in 2004 under the direction of Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker. Her research interests include homeschooling among Black families, Black family engagement, and home/school/community partnerships. Her groundbreaking research on Black homeschooling has been featured in many multimedia reports including NBC News, PBS NewsHour, and the Atlantic. Her 2020 AESA Critic’s Choice Award winning book, Exploring Single Black Mothers’ Resistance through Homeschooling, details the lives of four single Black mothers who homeschool while choosing not to work full-time. In 2021, Dr. Fields-Smith was awarded a Spencer Foundation Conference Grant to bring together a group of researchers, including doctoral students, who focus on Black home education to share research and begin to establish a formal annual conference on the topic. Most recently she served as co-editor of the 2022 book, Homeschooling Black Children in the U.S.: Theory, Practice, and Popular Culture. Prior to earning her doctorate, Dr. Fields-Smith served as an elementary school teacher in her native state of Connecticut.

Ian F. Haney López | @IanHaneyLopez
Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law, UC Berkeley

Ian Haney López is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at the University of California, Berkeley. His scholarship focuses on how racism has evolved since the civil rights era, including research on the connection between worsening contemporary racism and the rise of an American plutocracy. With the support of unions and foundations, for the last decade Professor Haney López has been running focus groups, deep surveys, and message testing. His findings have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other places, and also feature in his books Dog Whistle Politics (2014) as well as Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America (2019).  

Professor Haney López is also the author of White by Law as well as Racism on Trial, books that respectively critique the legal construction of white and Latinx racial identity. He has been a visiting law professor at Yale, New York University, and Harvard, and holds a master’s degree in history from Washington University, a master’s in public policy from Princeton, and a law degree from Harvard. He currently also serves as the William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law at the American Bar Foundation.

Cheryl Harris
Vice Dean for Community, Equality, and Justice, UCLA

Cheryl I. Harris is the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at UCLA School of Law where she teaches Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, Employment Discrimination, Critical Race Theory and Race Conscious Remedies.

A graduate of Wellesley College and Northwestern School of Law, Professor Harris began her teaching career in 1990 at Chicago- Kent College of Law after working for one of Chicago’s leading criminal defense firms and later serving as a senior legal advisor in the City Attorney’s office as part of the reform administration of Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago.  The interconnections between racial theory, civil rights practice, politics, and human rights have been important to her work.  She was a key organizer of several major conferences that helped establish a dialogue between U.S. legal scholars and South African lawyers during the development of South Africa’s first democratic constitution.  This work played a significant role in the production of her acclaimed and influential article, “Whiteness as Property” (Harvard Law Review).

Since joining the UCLA Law faculty in 1998, Professor Harris has continued to produce groundbreaking scholarship in the field of Critical Race Theory, particularly engaging the issue of how racial frames shape our understanding and interpretation of significant events like Hurricane Katrina (“Whitewashing Race”, in California Law Review), admissions policies (“The New Racial Preferences” in California Law Review)(with Carbado) and anti-discrimination law (“Reading Ricci: Whitening Discrimination, Race-ing Test Fairness” in UCLA Law Review) (with West-Faulcon).

She has also lectured widely on issues of race and equality at leading institutions here and abroad, including in Europe, South Africa, and Australia, and has been a frequent contributor to various media outlets on current events and cases involving race and equality.

Professor Harris has served as a consultant to the MacArthur Foundation and has been on the board of leading academic societies, including the American Studies Association.  She has served as faculty director for the Critical Race Studies Program at UCLA Law School and has been widely recognized as a groundbreaking teacher in the area of civil rights education, receiving the ACLU Foundation of Southern California's Distinguished Professor Award for Civil Rights Education. 

Emily Houh | @emihouh
Gustavus Henry Wald Professor of the Law and Contracts, University of Cincinnati College of Law

Emily Houh is the Gustavus Henry Wald Professor of the Law and Contracts at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she teaches contracts, commercial law, labor law, and critical race theory.

A graduate of Brown University and the University of Michigan Law School, Professor Houh started her teaching career in 2000 after serving as a law clerk in federal district court in Detroit, a legal aid attorney in Chicago, and an associate at a large law firm in Detroit. After three years on the faculty at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law , Professor Houh moved to Cincinnati Law where she is a five-time winner of the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In 2010, she helped found Cincinnati Law’s Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, which she co-directed until 2021.  In 2018, she was awarded the University of Cincinnati’s Distinguished Teaching Professor Award and was elected to the Fellows of the Graduate School. Much of Professor Houh’s past and current scholarship focuses on the interplay between contract law and critical race theory. Her work has appeared in numerous law journals and edited collections, and she is a co-editor, with Professor Devon Carbado and Dr. Khiara Bridges, of the forthcoming Oxford University Press Handbook on Race and Law in the U.S.

Professor Houh is a member of the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and has served on several AAUP investigating and/or special committees, including its Special Committee on Governance, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Racism in the University of North Carolina System (see the Special Committee’s recently published Report here).  In the past year, she has spoken widely and extensively on issues relating to legislative “educational gag orders,” which attempt to prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts” and/or critical race theory in K-12 and higher education.

Cierra Kaler-Jones
Director of Storytelling, Communities for Just Schools Fund
Founder + Director, Unlock Your Story

Cierra Kaler-Jones, PhD (she/her) is a social justice educator, researcher, and artist based in Washington, D.C. As a community-based researcher, Dr. Kaler-Jones’s research broadly focuses on how to create and sustain educational spaces rooted in joy and love, while refuting control and management tactics in schools that deny young people opportunities for creativity and critical consciousness-building. Her heart’s work includes running a program that uses art and education to fuel social change through the co-creation of healing-centered spaces for and with Black girls and TGNC (transgender, non-conforming) young people. In her current role, Cierra is the Director of Storytelling for Communities for Just Schools Fund, a collaborative that links the resources of philanthropy with the power of grassroots organizing. She also serves on the leadership team of the Zinn Education Project. Her writing can be found in peer-reviewed journals like the Middle School Journal, magazines like Rethinking Schools, and books including Strong Black Girls: Reclaiming Schools in Their Own Image and Black Girl Civics: Expanding and Navigating the Boundaries of Civic Engagement. She received her PhD in education from the University of Maryland - College Park.

Dorothy E. Roberts | @DorothyERoberts
Professor of Africana Studies, Law & Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander chair. She is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies.

Her path breaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent social justice issues in policing, family regulation, science, medicine, and bioethics. Her major books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997). She is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law and women and the law.

Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard Program on Ethics & the Professions, and Stanford Center for the Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. Recent recognitions of her scholarship and public service include 2019 Rutgers University- Newark Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, 2017 election to the National Academy of Medicine, 2016 Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016 Tanner Lectures on Human Values, 2015 American Psychiatric Association Solomon Carter Fuller Award.Image removed.

Reading List

Continue your engagement with the topics discussed during CUESEF 2022: Beyond 'the Crisis': Education for Local and Global Liberation. See below for books, articles, websites, and other resources from our speakers.

Cynthia Dillard

  • The Spirit of Our Work: Black Women Teachers (Re)member — Penguin Random HouseAmazon
  • Learning to (Re)member the Things We’ve Learned to Forget: Endarkened Feminisms, Spirituality, and the Sacred Nature of Research and Teaching — Amazon

Cierra Kaler-Jones

  • "Through the Lens of Those We Love: Uplifting Oral Histories and Finding Common Threads" — Rethinking Schools

Dorothy Roberts

  • Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families--and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World Amazon

  • Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of LibertyAmazon

Ian Haney-López

  • White by Law 10th Anniversary Edition: The Legal Construction of RaceAmazon

  • Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class — Amazon

Sonya Douglass

  • Learning in a Burning House: Educational Inequality, Ideology, and (Dis)Integration — Amazon

  • The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality: Possibilities for Democratic Schooling — Amazon

Richard Benson

  • Fighting for Our Place in the Sun: Malcolm X and the Radicalization of the Black Student Movement 1960–1973 — Amazon

Kirsten T. Edwards

  • College Curriculum at the Crossroads: Women of Color Reflect and Resist — Amazon

Cheryl Fields-Smith

  • Exploring Single Black Mothers' Resistance Through Homeschooling — Amazon

Freddi Williams Evans

Additional Readings and Resources

Collective Poem by Cynthia B. Dillard and Cierra Kaler-Jones

Write that I pushed against my own fears
Tell how black students' voices were heard like thunder in the sky
Write that I was revolutionary
Let them know that I kept my people close in everything I did
Tell how I loved and loved and loved
Write that I reconnected our daily act of eating with the joy of sharing the meal on the grass in the shade of the garden
Write that I tried to embody hope, inspiration, and joy in perilous times
Let them know that I am still standing.
Tell how we endured together and built stronger more loving communities
Write that I survived and was protected; Let them know that I struggled and cried, laughed and smiled; Tell how I remained steadfast, reconnected, pushed forward, and thrived!
Write that I engage abolitionist practices
Let them know that I celebrate joy and healing
Tell how them this is just the beginning of a revolution
Tell how to always search for the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, and stand fearlessly and proudly behind it.
Write that I showed up in my authenticity as a rural Black Feminist
Write that I pushed against my own fears. Let them know that I am unapologetic. Tell how I sparked the flame.
I witnessed the creation of community within the chasm of chaos. Let them know that it was fierce and powerful. Tell them that the work must get done.
Write that I loved with my full self
Let them know that I watched, I listened, I fed, I respected, I protected
Tell how I refused thin love
Write that I…am a teacher, one that teaches to heal not to bleed. Let them know that I teach myself and others through writing -- and writing "rights” things. Tell how…We are bruised but not broken. We are still here.
Tell how we are still the beloved community in its becoming.
Write that I am marching for the same things I marched for in the sixties. My feet grow weary, but my heart is more committed than ever as I march on.
Write that I found myself in the darkest of hours
Tell them how I’ve seen more than I can explain
Let them know that I’m one of millions that have elevated through love laughter pain creativity and authenticity

The Art of CUESEF 2022

Obsidian (2021) by Morgan Overton

"Obsidian is a black linocut print of a Black woman," says Overton. "It is aesthetically simple, yet her features are proud and prominent."

Overton is a visual artist, Pittsburgh native, and alumna of the University of Pittsburgh (A&S '16, SOCWRK '20). Her work aims to amplify the history, humanity, and future of Black culture. She works in all mediums to vibrantly reclaim narratives that history has attempted to command. Overton's work is grounded in the Nina Simone quote, “It's an artist's duty to reflect the times.” She believes that art is a powerful platform to disrupt the status quo and honor the resilience of her People. Her work has been featured across Greater Pittsburgh — notably at the Carnegie Museum of Art, August Wilson Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University — in addition to various social justice exhibits across the United States and St. Paul de Vence, France. Follow her work at