In response to the challenges of privatization, austerity, and the complicity of higher education institutions in white supremacy and settler colonialism, how do we assess education’s past and present and look toward equitable futures? Taking up these questions, this distributed special issue will run in the critical dialogues section of Ethnic Studies Review, and will examine abolitionist pedagogy and student labor during the pandemic and beyond.

Specifically, it invites contributors to explore and exchange ideas about how to build pedagogies, classrooms, and institutions grounded in radical traditions of feminist, queer, abolitionist, and decolonial world-making. A “distributed special issue,” as we envision it, departs from the traditional style and structure of a special issue, in which editors solicit and select essays published simultaneously as an issue. The essays will be published over the course of two years, so we envision that subsequent essays may respond to ones that follow ours. The purpose of this structure is to promote a dialogic approach to conversation at the intersections of ethnic studies praxis and pedagogical practice.

To this end, we encourage contributions that offer experimental, collaborative, creative, and design-based materials including: collaborative writing, annotated syllabi, interviews and dialogues, assignments and assessments, or classroom exercises, in addition to more traditional pieces of argumentative prose or theoretical inquiry. Contributions may be responses to pieces already published in the distributed special issue or may take this call in new directions. To this end, please see the examples of our first two “models in process” within this issue; one from Roopika Risam and a second from Sabina Vaught, Damien Sojoyner, and Connie Wun. We especially welcome submissions from voices on the margins of the higher education system including graduate student instructors or TAs, precarious/adjunct faculty, independent scholars, university staff, librarians, digital specialists, workers, and K–12 educators.

Examples of topics that contributors may wish to engage with include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Failures—Abolition requires experimentation, and experiments sometimes end in failure. Sharing our failures is as generative a practice as sharing our successes. Therefore, in addition to soliciting models of practices that have moved students and instructors closer to freedom dreams, we also seek reflections on failed experiments, redirections, and other iterative teaching practices.

  • Institutional Restructuring in the Pandemic Classroom—How have harmful institutional trends of the past decade(s) (e.g., funding retrenchment, labor casualization, rising degrees of exploitation for faculty and staff) been accelerated or rearticulated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Finding Common Ground—What kinds of tensions exist between decolonial and abolitionist pedagogical approaches, and how can we articulate productive overlap toward common goals for our students and institutions? What does student-centered learning look like when it is also grounded in queer, feminist, abolitionist, and decolonial thought?

  • Student Labor and Metrics of “Preparedness”—How have pandemic-related changes impacted expectations and measurements of student labor inside and outside the classroom? How do we envision universities and classrooms as “student ready” and move away from the idea of students being “college ready”?

  • Faculty Labor and “Student-Centered” Learning—When do student-centered approaches become an alibi for the hyper-exploitation of precariously employed faculty and instructors? How do educators, particularly those who are contingent faculty, navigate between the need to be flexible and adopt “high-impact practices” for “student success” and the material realities of faculty labor?

  • Abolition in Times of Austerity—What tactical pitfalls might await demands for abolition in the context of renewed austerity especially in the humanities and social sciences? How might students and other workers navigate these pitfalls?

Submissions offering historical or theoretical analysis should be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length. Creative or design-based submissions should include all relevant materials and be accompanied by a brief designer’s note (500–1,500 words) offering explanatory insight on their design and framing their use with detailed examples and/or instructions. To be considered, please send an abstract of 250 words (or an equivalent overview/representative sample for non-prose submissions) to

The distributed issue has a rolling deadline. Authors of accepted submissions will be requested to submit full papers by January 2023 and every three months thereafter.

For other author instructions please consult the ESR Author Guidelines.

Abstracts will be subject to editorial review by Steven Gotzler, Vineeta Singh, and Roopika Risam. Authors of submissions invited for full papers will have two options for peer review: an open peer review process (where author and reviewers are known to and in dialogue with each other) or a blind peer review process (run through ESR’s standard peer review process with UC Press). We encourage open peer review, but make the blind peer review option for those who prefer it.