Power Brokers II: Critical perspectives and new approaches to supporting pathway building among non-dominant youth

9:30 – 5:00 | University of California, Irvine. Woods Cove C | Wednesday, October 4, 2017
6 hours | 20 Participant Maximum
Cost: $100

*Space is limited, passes remain available until the workshop is full.

Angela Calabrese Barton | Michigan State University| Email: acb@msu.edu
Dixie Ching | New York University | Email: dixieching@gmail.com

The concept of “brokering,” or connecting future learning opportunities to youth as a way to support their pathways of interest-driven learning and identity building, was an idea that gained a resurgence of interest based on conversations and activities within the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. The idea was that brokering—connecting youth to meaningful future learning opportunities including events, programs, internships, individuals, and institutions that will support their ongoing interest-driven learning—could be a key strategy for supporting youths’ interests in sustained and robust ways and enrich their social networks with adults and peers that are connected to or have knowledge of learning opportunities that would be of value to them.

As a way to build community and invite a wider range of perspectives on brokering and youth opportunities, a “Power Brokers” pre-conference workshop was offered last year for educators and designers and researchers representing a range of disciplines and perspectives. The group generated productive provocations and questions about the underlying assumptions of brokering and its relationship to equity. Who is considered a broker? Brokering towards what kinds of futures and for whom? Brokers, for example, play crucial roles in identifying and making visible power structures for youth. However, there are important limitations in this framework that must be considered from the vantage point of power. For instance, brokers are typically invested in a system, making it difficult to disrupt the system. Also, brokering is typically conceptualized as unidirectional (e.g., more powerful others brokering less powerful others into opportunities or networks); however, this increases the risk of reifying existent power structures that have historically left individuals outside of opportunities (Tan & Calabrese Barton, under review). Brokering does not necessarily explicitly or directly value the competencies that youth come in with—brokers have authority to decide what’s valuable, when and for whom.

In this workshop, we continue the conversation, with an explicit focus on equitable futures for the youth we serve. We seek to challenge and expand traditional notions of brokering, and examine critically the role of power in brokering dynamics, forms, and outcomes. We welcome submissions from a variety of disciplinary approaches and learning organizations. This will be a working meeting with presentations and small group discussion to hash out key frameworks, learnings, and resources, with the idea that a short position paper summarizing our collective thoughts would be produced shortly afterwards. We request that applicants to the workshop submit short papers (2-6 pages in length), and selected papers will be published in an online proceedings for the workshop. Papers can include case studies, worked examples, and research papers.

Download workshop flyer here.


Ching, D., Santo, R., Hoadley, C., & Peppler, K. (2016). Not just a blip in someone’s life: integrating brokering practices into out-of-school programming as a means of supporting youth futures. On the Horizon, 24(3). pp. 296-312.