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Worlds of Difference

OGA Global Equity Initiatives 2023 – 2024

In dialogues with our global partners, especially those who are located in what has come to be called the Global South, the UW Office of Global Affairs (OGA) has been hearing calls for the UW to link its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitments to a broader commitment to address the role that universities play in perpetuating global inequities and injustices.

Heeding these calls, OGA has launched the Worlds of Difference (WoD) initiative in partnership with the UW Law Sustainable International Development Graduate Program, the Comparative History of Ideas Department, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 

WoD aims to facilitate conversations and collective endeavors to investigate, address, and redress the UW’s implicit and complicit contributions, as a global university, to the reproduction of global hierarchies of race, gender, class, and geography, and in the reproduction of knowledge as the preserve of those most privileged by such hierarchies.

Below is a calendar of WoD affiliated and adjacent events currently scheduled for the 2023 – 2024 Academic Year. This calendar will be updated regularly with new events and additional information.


Reimagining the Guidelines for Global Engagement: Information Sessions

Thursday, October 5th & 12th (Recording)

As part of the Activating the Third University project, the Office of Global Affairs invites the UW community to take a critical look at the University of Washington’s Guidelines for Global Engagement and to take part in a participatory process to revise them. We are seeking to form a working group of diverse faculty, staff, and students to help us steer this endeavor. We are hosting information sessions for those interested in participating. The aim is to revise the Guidelines to inform and guide the UW community to investigate, address, and redress inequities and injustices when globally engaged, inform the UW community by providing critical terms to use and critical questions to better attend to contexts and histories of injustice and inequity, and guide the community towards critical resources, both theoretical and practical, that can help us investigate, address, and redress inequities and injustices

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Climate Justice & Abolitionist Worldmaking Presents “The University in Abolitionist Perspective, 1945-1968” with Nick Mitchell

Monday, November 6th at 6pm, Communications Building (CMU) 120

Description:“Education, not incarceration,” the saying goes. This talk seeks to complicate the premise on which this statement relies. Mitchell’s aim is to offer an abolitionist approach to university history. Recent abolitionist scholarship has emphasized the dual character of mass institutions in US capitalism: institutions must harness population surpluses so as to leverage labor surpluses. A paradox thus emerges: institutions increasingly central to the organization of labor become so by way of the mass production of nonwork, and of nonworkers.

Mitchell argues that it is this function–the mass production and absorption of nonworkers–that education and incarceration have work in common. From this perspective, an essential prequel to the emergence of mass incarceration came in the postwar era of the twentieth century. There, US state makers sought to avert the looming crisis of mass unemployment by way of the mass production of students. And in attending to this moment, the aspiration to fashion mass education as an alternative to mass incarceration faces a challenge: the development of the latter may belong, troublingly, to the historicity of the former.Bio:Nick Mitchell (she/her) works in the Department of Feminist Studies and the Department of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Santa Cruz. As a researcher, Mitchell is principally engaged with the status of higher education in the U.S. as a problem for historical and theoretical inquiry. As a writer, Mitchell aims to make better sense of university life-worlds by developing scales, vocabularies, and categories to reframe and rethink its rhythms and textures.

These research and writing efforts can be found in essays published in Feminist Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, The New Inquiry, and Spectre, as well as in two forthcoming books: “Discipline and Surplus: Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Dawn of Neoliberalism” (under contract with Duke University Press) and “The University, in Theory: Essays on Institutionalized Knowledge.”

Climate Justice & Abolitionist Worldmaking brings to the UW scholars, artists, cultural workers, and organizers whose work engages the interconnections between climate crisis, racial capitalism, and ongoing histories of colonialism. Centering abolitionist theory and practice, anticolonial visions of climate justice, theorizing from impacted communities, and Black, Indigenous, queer, and feminist knowledge traditions and worldmaking, the project includes public events, curriculum development for UW faculty, partnership with UW Libraries, and collaborations with local movements and organizations.

Event Co-Sponsors: the Minoritarian Performance Research Cluster @ UW Seattle, the UW Bothell Labor Colloquium, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Bothell), the Program on the Environment @ UW Seattle, the Departments of Geography, GWSS, History, Comparative History of Ideas, the Harry Bridges Labor Center, and the Jackson School of International Studies.


The University and its Responsibility for Repair: Confronting Colonial Foundations and Enabling Different Futureswith Sharon Stein

Tuesday, November 7th at 4:30pm, Communications Building (CMU) 120

View Recording

Description:As part of the Activating the Third University project, sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the WoD initiative is excited to host Sharon Stein, Associate Professor of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Stein is the author of Unsettling the University: Confronting the Colonial Foundations of US Higher Education (2022)founder of the Critical Internationalization Studies Network, and a co-founder of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures (GTDF) Collective.

For the past 500 years, higher education has been entangled in the reproduction of social and ecological violence around the globe. This presentation asks how universities, and those of us who work and study within them, might meaningfully reckon with and enact repair for our complicity in historical and ongoing coloniality and unsustainability. It approaches reparations as a potentially regenerative process of enacting material redistribution and restitution, (re)building relationships grounded in respect and reciprocity, and repurposing our institutions to be more relevant and responsible in the context of the current polycrisis. The talk will also review several resources for navigating the complexities of confronting the colonial foundations of higher education and enabling different futures.

Bio:Sharon Stein is an Associate Professor of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of Unsettling the University: Confronting the Colonial Foundations of US Higher Education (2022)founder of the Critical Internationalization Studies Network, and a co-founder of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures (GTDF) Collective.


“Decolonial University Studies & the Arts of Global Engagement”

Winter 2024 Graduate Micro-Seminar

  • Wednesday, January 17, 1030am-1200pm
  • Wednesday, January 31, 1030am-1200pm
  • Wednesday, February 14, 1030am-1200pm
  • Wednesday, February 28, 1030am-1200pm
  • Wednesday, March 6, 1030am-1200pm

What are the responsibilities of a global university in a wounded world? 

Located in one of the wealthiest metropolitan regions in the world and engaged in research projects across the planet, the University of Washington (UW) is in the very early days of defining its responsibility in an unequal and unjust global society. Headlines announcing the latest environmental tragedies, outbreaks of violence, mass incarceration, and economic dislocations are indicators of the ongoing and overlapping work of colonialism, racism, extractive capitalism, nationalism, and patriarchy. While it is tempting to see the university as a place for solutions to these crises, it is important to note that university knowledge is, as Edward Saíd famously put it, “never innocent.” 

Part of the Activating the Third University project, and organized around the visit of Critical University Studies scholar K. Wayne Yang, this micro-seminar will invite students to consider the decolonial work that has emerged in Critical University Studies and to apply theories and insights from this work in a self-critical and self-reflexive examination of the UW’s own discourses and practices on global engagement. Key readings will include the excerpts from the work of Sharon Stein, K. Wayne Yang, Eve Tuck, Ruth Wilson Gilmore,  Denise Ferreira da Silva, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, and the current  UW’s Guidelines for Global Engagement.

The final assignment in the seminar will be a collaboratively produced revision of the Guidelines for Global Engagement.


Building Scyborgs. An evening on decolonizationwith K. Wayne Yang

Tuesday, February 13, 2024  6:30 pm @ Town Hall Seattle, Livestream (Hybrid)

View Recording

Description:Monsters, machines, and mortals, we are the objects of colonization, and perhaps, we can be the agents of decolonization too. Join scholar, organizer, and co-conspirator K. Wayne Yang as he shares stories about decolonizing endeavors from past, present, future and speculative somewheres. How do we bend our own complicity in colonial institutions to forward Indigenous, Black, queer, and Other futures locally and globally? Come ready to consider your own scyborg powers and plans.

Part of the Activating the Third University project, this talk is being sponsored by UW Public Lectures and the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Bio:“K. Wayne Yang, Provost of Muir College and Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego, writes about decolonization and everyday epic organizing, often with his frequent collaborator, Eve Tuck, and sometimes for an avatar called la paperson. Drs. Tuck and Yang wrote “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” and they edit the book series, Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education. Writings by la paperson include the book, A Third University is Possible. Currently, he and Eve Tuck are convening the Land Relationships Super Collective with several Indigenous, Black, and people of color led community organizations engaged in land-based projects. Dr. Yang is also Provost of Muir College and Professor in ethnic studies at UC San Diego, where he co-founded the Indigenous Futures Institute and Black Like Water. 


Partnership in an Unequal World: A Community of Practice

Fall 2023 , Winter 2024, and Spring 2024 (Dates TBD)

Many of us are grappling with how to do good work and lead meaningful lives in an unjust and unequal world. While our intellectual and political projects link us with people in other parts of the world, the institutions through which we work can sometimes help and sometimes seriously hinder our collaborations. Whether you are new to international collaboration or have experience with international partnerships, we invite you to join 2023-2024 OGA Global Engagement Faculty Fellows  – Anu Taranath, Ben Gardner, and Ron Krabil, co-founders of The Global Reciprocity Network – as they build a community to share practical guidance from their work with international partners. These community gatherings, workshops, and dialogues will engage participants in hands-on-activities and lively discussions about how we navigate issues of reciprocity and structural inequality, and connect meaningfully across difference.


Globally-engaged Teaching Workshop

Winter 2024 (January 25, 2024)

View Recording Please note a UW NetID is required to access the recording.

This winter the Office of Global Affairs will host and organize a workshop with Center for Teaching and Learning to provide UW faculty and graduate teaching assistants with best practices for inclusive teaching in a classroom with international students, addressing issues ranging from cultural humility, to global mobility, to global inequities in student opportunities.


Reimagining the Syllabi: Equity, Power, & Course Design

Spring 2024 (Date TBD)

This stream of the WoD initiative aims to enable faculty across disciplines to share inclusive teaching practices and to support each other in reimagining their syllabi to address problems of equity, power, and privilege. On the one hand, this endeavor is about enabling the UW community to collectively attend to the outsized geopolitical footprint that scholars at institutions in the United States and Europe have on setting research agendas and shaping curricula across the globe. On the other hand, this endeavor is about enabling the UW community collectively to recognize and resist the powers that dispense intellectual freedoms unjustly and inequitably according to presumptions and prejudices regarding race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability, no matter where they reside.