Remaking the World: Transforming Teaching Through Youth Speculative Literacies
Lauren Kelly

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Primary Discipline

Curriculum and Instruction
In this era of multiple pandemics, schools are recognizing the need for a radical shift in structure and the urgency of addressing structural inequities in schools. Simultaneously, youth of color are speaking out against injustice and seeking pathways for engaging in educational and social change. In the past two years, student demand has increased for schools to provide culturally responsive curriculum and to address institutional structures of racial oppression. These demands for action and accountability highlight how youth are leading the charge for racial justice and leveraging their digital, cultural, and speculative literacies to fight for large-scale societal change. Responding to this transformative moment, this study examines the intersections between pedagogy, culture, and activism in order to learn how youth can transform classroom teaching through their imaginative capacities. This qualitative research study employs social design methodology to investigate the design processes of youth of color as they co-construct pedagogical theories and practices for teachers that are socially, culturally, and critically relevant for their daily lives and social futures. Addressing the absence of the insights and imagination of students of color in youth voice literature, as well as the limits of social justice education when youth are not invited into the process of educational design, the results of this study will reveal how youth engage in social design-based experimentation to develop pedagogical theories and identities as well as the impact of this development on their perceptions of agency and capacities for enacting social change.
About Lauren Kelly
Lauren Leigh Kelly is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. She is also the founder of the annual Hip Hop Youth Research and Activism Conference. Kelly taught high school English for ten years in New York where she also developed courses in Hip Hop Literature and Culture, Spoken Word poetry, and Theatre Arts. Dr. Kelly?s research focuses on adolescent critical literacy development, Black feminist theory, Hip Hop pedagogy, critical consciousness, and the development of critical, culturally sustaining pedagogies. Dr. Kelly?s work has been nationally recognized, including receiving the 2022 Nasir Jones Fellowship at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, the 2021 Save the Kids Hip Hop Activism Scholar-Activist of the Year Award, the 2020 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Writing and Literacies Special Interest Group Steve Cahir Early Career Award, and the 2019 Rutgers GSE Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Lecture Award. Her scholarship has been published in academic journals such as Equity & Excellence in Education, Journal of Literacy Research, Learning, Media, & Technology, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, English Journal, and Youth & Society and her research on Hip Hop literacies and critical consciousness is the subject of two forthcoming book publications.

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