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ASU, Arizona PBS partner to bring social transformation to global community

New podcast will feature unique perspectives on some of Arizona’s most pressing topics

Two people sit in chairs opposite each other in front of a tripod video camera.

Jamal Brooks-Hawkins (left) and Mako Fitts-Ward (right) sit down during the filming of the "Okay! School Me" podcast at Ed Plus Studios in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Kyra Trent

September 20, 2023

The Social Transformation Lab at Arizona State University has a new offering for those looking to practice more thoughtful stewardship of the communities around them.

On Sept. 20, in partnership with Arizona PBS, the lab will launch the “Okay! School Me” podcast, a show rooted in sharing unique perspectives on some of Arizona’s most pressing topics — from LGBTQ+ activism to K–12 education in a post-COVID-19 community.

“’Okay! School Me’ asks some of the leading experts, educators and leaders in our community to put social transformation into action, whether it’s in how we educate young people, how we hold lawmakers accountable, or how we envision more equitable and just worlds,” says Mako Ward, director of the Social Transformation Lab and assistant professor of African American and women and gender studies in the School of Social Transformation.

“At its core, social transformation is about acknowledging the existence of structural inequalities and identifying solutions to improve the lives of those most negatively impacted. We wanted to feature the perspectives of individuals most closely impacted by social problems.”

Throughout the inaugural season, hosts and guests demonstrate how classrooms are liberatory spaces of knowledge production and inclusive equity. The season's kickoff features unique voices, each offering a robust take on what social transformation means to them, reflective of their lived and intersectional experiences.

Listeners will hear from guests like queer screenwriter and Faculty Associate Rebecca Semik and Writing Programs Instructor David Boyles, co-founder of Drag Story Hour Arizona, who dives into recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and offers thoughtful tools for advocates and queer communities.

Associate Professor Carrie Sampson and Ashley Farrell, who recently obtained her master's degree in social and cultural pedagogy from ASU, share staggering realities from the front lines of K–12 education in a post-COVID-19 Arizona.

Listeners will also hear from Associate Teaching Professor Mathew Sandoval and scholar and author Celina Osuna, who break down the balance between deeply rooted, soul-affirming art practices with being educators inside a classroom.

To close out the season, Assistant Professor Joyce McCall is joined by Adrienne Dixson, executive director of the Education and Civil Rights Initiative at the University of Kentucky, to delineate the concept of the New American University, who it’s made for, who it includes and how it can most equitably serve learners across the country.

“Voices on ‘OKSM’ are doing the work of social transformation. … No one is doing the work alone, and the guests featured demonstrate this all too well,” says Jamal Brooks-Hawkins, graduate research assistant at the Social Transformation Lab and a third-year gender studies PhD student at ASU.

Episodes drop weekly beginning Sept. 20. For more information, visit Arizona PBS.

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