Simulating Equity: MFA Thesis Project


For my thesis, I created an interactive simulation to explore the social dynamics and consequences of school segregation. This is an underlying issue that perpetuates race and class gaps in society. Analysis on the effects of desegregation programs from the 70s has shown positive outcomes for both black and white students in all areas of life. And yet we see levels of segregation in our schools that are higher than they were before those desegregation efforts.

Desegregation policies failed because there wasn’t enough public compliance. I felt that visualization, specifically an interactive simulation could have an impact on attitude and behaviors around school choice, giving future policy efforts a chance to work. I created an interactive simulation for users to experience the process of selecting a school for their child from different viewpoints with the goal of connecting individual choices and policy choices to consequences both for the user’s child and for the community.

I focused on Chicago because that is my hometown so the data driving this simulation is based on census data for Chicago and Chicago Public Schools data.

Check out the simulation here.

Read about the thesis and download it here.

This work received the Otto and Marie Neurath Award for Outstanding Social Relevance.