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MIRA (Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics) Conference

Maggie Melo is an assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research specialization resides at the intersection of innovation, critical maker culture, and the development of equitable and inclusive collaborative learning spaces (e.g. makerspaces) in academic libraries. Her work has appeared in portal: Libraries and the Academy, Hybrid Pedagogy, and Computers and Composition Online.

She co-founded the University of Arizona’s first publicly accessible and interdisciplinary makerspace – iSpace – and strategically facilitated its growth from a 400-square-foot room in the Science-Engineering Library to a 5,000-square-foot facility soon to be housed in the University’s Main Library. She is also a serial maker! She enjoys embedding circuits into things, additive and subtractive fabrication, dabbling with AI, digital world making, and more. She is also the founder of the Women Techmakers Tucson Hackathon, the Southwest’s first women’s-only hackathon.

Keynote: The Possibilities and Perils of Inclusion in Makerspaces

Maggie Melo - Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Why do makerspaces attract a narrow demographic of users? If the Maker Movement is founded on values on openness, diversity, and inclusion, then why is there an underrepresentation of races, genders, and classes in makerspaces? Why aren’t the inclusion initiatives in our makerspace welcoming diverse users? In this talk, Melo explores how inclusion efforts, despite their good intentions, undermine possibilities to create supportive learning environments for underrepresented populations. Melo challenges the idea that makerspaces are inherently welcoming environments, and instead offers an examination of the ways makerspaces dissuade marginalized communities from participating therein. This keynote will extend strategies to cultivate tech-centric learning environments that are intentionally designed to be more equitable and supportive for a diverse population of users.