Professional Development

SXSW EDU 2024 Highlights for K-12 Education Leaders

This March 4-7, SXSW EDU returns to Austin for a wide range of learning and mentorship experiences, performances, film screenings, future-focused competitions, and more. The event brings together "the brightest minds in education to tackle complex issues and drive impact to create a new tomorrow for learners everywhere," according to organizers.

The conference will begin by examining the debate over critical race theory in an opening keynote featuring Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder and executive director of The African American Policy Forum, and Dr. Jonathan Cox, vice president of the Center for Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). Presented in a fireside chat format, the keynote "invites attendees to explore the conceptual overview of CRT as well as the significance of integrating it into academia," SXSW EDU said in a news announcement.

A professor of law at both the University of California Los Angeles and Columbia University, Crenshaw is a scholar and writer on critical race theory (a term she coined) as well as civil rights, Black feminist legal theory, race, racism, and the law.

In his role at the CBCF, Cox develops public policy and research strategies to guide the organization's efforts to eliminate disparities in the global Black community. He is also a public scholar and educator, with 20 years of instructional and administrative experience across public and private K-12 and postsecondary institutions.

"SXSW EDU's mission has always been to offer discussions and perspectives on the matters impacting the state of education," noted Greg Rosenbaum, senior director of SXSW EDU. "Because critical race theory remains a significant topic in the field, it is fitting to open our 2024 conference and festival with a comprehensive discussion. We are thrilled that Dr. Crenshaw and Dr. Cox, two of the country's leading voices on African American representation, political discourse, policy, and justice, will join us to host this incredibly important and relevant keynote."

A number of featured sessions will continue the conversation on key topics in K-12 education, from diversity and inclusion to learning science and curriculum design:

The Power of Place: Transforming America One Block at a Time (March 4)
Geoffrey Canada, president of Harlem Children's Zone, will "trace the evolution of the place-based cradle-to-career model" and share how his organization's work in Harlem is helping to develop scalable solutions to economic inequality.

How Cultures of Growth Transform Students — and Teachers (March 4)
In this session, psychology researchers from Stanford University and Indiana University will explore why mindset cultures are key to students' motivation, learning, and well-being.

How Do We Find the Good at a Time Like This? (March 5)
Veteran educators Jennifer Gonzalez, editor in chief of the website Cult of Pedagogy, and Rebecka Peterson, math teacher at Union High School in Tulsa, OK, will offer intentional steps teachers can take to find joy in their work.

Takeaways from Our Freshman Year of D&D in Schools (March 6)
Learn how bringing Dungeons & Dragons-inspired role-playing games into the classroom can help enhance storytelling, language arts, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills.

For the World to Come: Exploding How We Do Civics in Schools (March 6)
Researchers from the Stanford University and Rutgers University Schools of Education offer "a model of world-building civic education that positions every teacher as a civic teacher, insists upon ideological commitments to equity and justice, and provides strategies for fostering empathy, inquiry, and social imagination in every classroom."

Centering Blackness: Educate ... Inform & Innovate! (March 7)
Julieanna Richardson, founder and president of The HistoryMakers, a nonprofit digital repository for the Black experience, will share how digital archives can transform how history is taught in order to better inform and respond to today's students.

Providing a Voice & Making the Nevers Possible for ALL (March 7)
This panel discussion will explore how doctors, parents, and advocates are harnessing advances in technology to change the way neurodivergent individuals communicate.

For a look at the entire SXSW EDU Schedule and to register, visit

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].