The Kinloch Commons for Critical Pedagogy and Leadership

About The Kinloch Commons

Committed to the urgent leadership and pedagogy questions of our time, The Kinloch Commons advances freedom study and praxis across organizational, institutional, community, and disciplinary contexts. We work collaboratively as a connector and a hub for people and organizations to develop and support their aims, providing a rich, stable curriculum of workshops, roundtables, lectures, and other offerings.

Our participants and partners come from within the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and across educational organizations, institutions, and communities. Together, we support critical pedagogical and leadership creativity, learning, and cultivation of practices toward a free world.

What is a Commons?

A commons is a place, a cluster of resources, and a network of relations stewarded for the common good. Through our stewardship and cultivation of critical pedagogy and leadership, The Kinloch Commons links local and planetary educational commons through the dynamic relational work of pedagogy and leadership for freedom. 

Our guiding framework:

  • Purposes: Cultivate, enrich, and steward freedom knowledge ecologies through critical pedagogy and leadership praxis in a broad range of educational contexts.
  • Principles: Critical pedagogy and leadership foment and support longstanding and nascent freedom work locally and globally. Collective critical pedagogical and leadership endeavors are solidarity projects for shared purpose across meaningful difference.
  • Commitments: 
    • Germinate emerging critical pedagogical and leadership praxes in individuals, collectives, classrooms, and schools through shared study and praxis;
    • Advance vital scholarly inquiry into critical pedagogy and leadership; 
    • Respond to organizational, communal, and individual questions through collaborative design;
    • Provide support, space, and structure for student, faculty, and community member design and facilitation of workshops, study groups, and other proposed resources; and
    • Foster inventive leadership and pedagogical freedom praxes
  • Praxes: Constellate and coordinate resources for supported growth of critical pedagogical and leadership endeavors.

Connect with the Team

Director: Sabina Vaught, Professor, Pitt School of Education
Student Collaborators: briana rodríguez (Graduate Student, Pitt School of Education) and Debralyn I. Woodberry-Shaw (Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Pitt School of Education)

The Kinloch Commons is a resource for School of Education teaching and leading projects. Pitt Education faculty members can reach out to Sabina Vaught at to set up a meeting to discuss your aims and design a collaboration. These collaborations might be one-time meetings, resource development, study development, process design, ongoing meetings, or other. Areas of collaboration include but are not limited to:

  • Re-designing a syllabus
  • Building a pedagogy study bibliography
  • Establishing a teaching observation and evaluation process
  • Brainstorming leadership principles and practices
  • Designing a program of study

If you are a community educator, organization, school teacher or leader, or otherwise interested in pedagogical and leadership support, please contact

Fall 2022 Curriculum

September 13: Writing and Scholarly Life Workshop (pre-tenure workshop)

Writing and Scholarly Life Workshop
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | 1 p.m.

Facilitated by Sabina Vaught, Kinloch Commons director 

This workshop is for pre-tenure faculty members. Please register before September 7 by emailing Sabina Vaught at

Event flyer for Sept. 13 workshop

September 17: Freedom Pedagogies Symposium

Freedom Pedagogies Symposium
Saturday, September 17, 2022

Co-sponsored by the Practices of Freedom grant project

  • Living Syllabus Workshop 
    10 - 11:30 a.m. 

    Facilitated by Sabina Vaught, Kinloch Commons director, and Janina Lopez, doctoral student

    "A revolution by education requires a revolution in education,” writes Russell Rickford in We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination. In this online session, we ask how our syllabi can be revolutionary experiments in reimagining and restructuring a small part of the vast educational project. Join to learn about and discuss one model for engaging a living syllabus--a syllabus that unfolds through collective processes in the context of one course. 
  • Abolitionist Pedagogy Workshop
    Noon - 1:30 p.m.

    Facilitated by Sabina Vaught, Kinloch Commons director, and Chris Wright, doctoral student 

    This introductory workshop will introduce some core ideas and practices of anti-carceral/abolitionist pedagogy as a pathway to building classroom practices.

    Event flyer for Sept. 17 Freedom Pedagogies Symposium

October 17: Lecture with Kipp Dawson

Lecture with Kipp Dawson
Monday, October 17, 2022 | 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Learn from activist, organizer, and educator Kipp Dawson. A Pitt alum, retired Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher, and retired coal miner with vast labor union experience through the United Mine Workers, Kipp has also spent decades organizing in Civil Rights, anti-war, and feminist movements. She will be sharing stories of common cause across movements and the power of local-global organizing. Presented by Reimagining Educational Work for Collective Freedom: The Labor Strike as a Portal, The Kinloch Commons for Critical Pedagogy and Leadership, and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban Education.

October 20 and November 7: Anti-carceral/Abolitionist Pedagogy Workshop Series

Anti-carceral/Abolitionist Pedagogy Workshop Series

Co-sponsored by the University Center for Teaching and Learning

  • Anti-carceral/Abolitionist Pedagogy Part 1
    Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 1 - 2:30 p.m. 

    Facilitated by Sabina Vaught, Kinloch Commons director, and Chris Wright, urban education doctoral student

    Advance reading: Dylan Rodríguez, “The Disorientation of the Teaching Act: Abolition as Pedagogical Position”

    Through a close engagement with Dylan Rodríguez’s “The Disorientation of the Teaching Act: Abolition as Pedagogical Position,” we will very briefly and broadly frame key concepts and practices of abolition. Then, we will consider collectively: What questions do we need to ask about our own pedagogy across Rodriguez’ two abolitionist pedagogy dimensions of challenging common sense and dismantling presentist and ahistorical study that will create the momentum to build toward, sustain, and deepen ongoing, collective abolitionist pedagogy?
  • Anti-carceral/Abolitionist Pedagogy Part 2
    Monday, November 7, 2022 | 1 - 2:30 p.m. 

    Facilitated by Sabina Vaught, Kinloch Commons director

    Advance reading: Critical resistance reformist reform v. abolitionist steps toolkit

    We will pick up where we left off, sharing how we’ve considered Rodríguez’ two dimensions in our teaching. Then, we will consider how we incorporate and insist on the third dimension: creatively imagining and building free futures. We will build an anti-carceral pedagogy tool to take away with us.

    Participation in the first workshop in this series is required for registration
October 24: What Counts as the University? Academic Freedom, Free Speech, and Misogynoir

What Counts as the University? Academic Freedom, Free Speech, and Misogynoir
Monday, October 24 | Noon

This teach-in features Women of Color public intellectuals and delves into the question of what “counts” as the university? When and how is academic freedom used, curtailed, and what lessons might we learn from patterns of institutions revoking academic freedom? How does misogynoir show up in higher education? Panelists will include Uju Anya (Carnegie Mellon University) and Pitt Education faculty members Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher and Leigh Patel, and will be moderated by Pitt Education PhD student Ogechi Irondi. After some dialogue among the panelists, there will be moderated time for question and answer with the audience.

Co-sponsored by The Kinloch Commons

October 31: Reckoning, Reconciliation, and Reciprocity in Community Centered Research

Reckoning, Reconciliation, and Reciprocity in Community Centered Research: Lessons from Puerto Rican Chicago by Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez
Monday, October 31 | 6 p.m.
Posvar 5401 and virtual

Dr. Lisa Ortiz, an associate professor at Pitt Education, will moderate this dialogue with Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez (University of Oklahoma) as she conducts partial readings and shares the book writing process with students and attendees. 

Co-sponsored by The Kinloch Commons.

November 7: Expressive Study Series

Expressive Study Series
Monday, November 7

This gathering features a dialogue with Dr. Lisa Ortiz and Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez with a shared reading from Dr. Velázquez' new book, Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977. The dialogue is accompanied by a reflective visual expression experience, and a share out with students and attendees about the book writing process. Art materials provided for in-person attendees.

November 29: Living in the Questions: Shaping Scholarly Inquiry (pre-tenure workshop)

Living in the Questions: Shaping Scholarly Inquiry (pre-tenure workshop)
Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | 1 - 3 p.m.

Guided by Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s framework for designing questions with “stretch,” “resonance,” and “resilience,” we will spend the first hour workshopping our inquiry, from our overarching questions to our immediate projects. How do we maintain the complexity and multiplicity of our inquiry while also making it cohere for ourselves and others? How do we sustain the interrogative? How do we keep space for change and transformation? For the second hour, we will discuss resources for pre-tenure support at the Pitt School of Education.

Please register before November 18 by emailing Sabina Vaught at

Spring 2023 Curriculum

January 27: Leadership Workshop: Establishing a faculty teaching observation process for departments

Leadership Workshop: Establishing a faculty teaching observation process for departments
Friday, January 27 | 1 - 2:30 p.m.

This workshop will support department leaders in designing a meaningful, flexible process for faculty teaching observations. We'll begin building a process that supports faculty member pedagogical growth, aligns with the School of Education mission-vision, and coordinates with the requirements for tenure and promotion as well as other evaluative mechanisms.   

RSVP by emailing Sabina Vaught at

February 3: The Conference Presentation as Pedagogical Act (for doctoral students and early career faculty)

The Conference Presentation as Pedagogical Act (for doctoral students and early career faculty)
Friday, February 3 | 10 - 11:15 a.m. ET

Facilitated by briana rodríguez and Sabina Vaught, we will think through how to design a conference presentation that invites dialogue, tells a story, and prioritizes open inquiry.

RSVP by emailing Sabina Vaught at

February 17: The Review (pre-tenure workshop)

The Review (pre-tenure workshop)
Friday, February 17 | 12:30 - 2 p.m.

Annual? Third-year? Tenure? We'll talk about engaging the unique genre of the pre-tenure review. How do you tell the story of your scholarly work? What is the purpose of this writing? How can you maintain fidelity to your voice and meet the expectations of various professional processes and benchmarks? 

RSVP by emailing Sabina Vaught at

February 22: Teaching August Wilson: A Pedagogy of Self-Determination

Center for Urban Education's "Teaching August Wilson: A Pedagogy of Self-Determination"
Wednesday, February 22, 2023 | Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Co-sponsored by the Kinloch Commons

Join the Center for Urban Education (CUE), in partnership with the Pitt Library, for a virtual panel celebrating the life and work of August Wilson and the importance of teaching his writings. This panel launches a deeper collaborative relationship in which CUE will lead a series of workshops with educators about how to develop curriculum and pedagogy that center the August Wilson archive. In addition, the panel invites educators across contexts to a conversation about fostering creative and inventive teaching designs.


  • Justin Emeka, Associate Professor, Oberlin College, and Resident Director, Pittsburgh Public Theater
  • Khalid Y. Long, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia Institute for African American Studies
  • Shaun Myers, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of English


  • Ari Brazier, CUE Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Robert Randolph, Writing Center Director, North Carolina A&T State University

Learn more and register on CUE's website.

March 14 and March 28: Contemplating a Womanist Educational Leadership: Reckoning with Freedom

Contemplating a Womanist Educational Leadership: Reckoning with Freedom
Tuesday, March 14 |  5:30 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, March 28 |  5:30 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban Education

Aided by viewing portions of illustrative films and engaging in roundtable discussions, participants will collectively imagine the contours of and possibilities for womanist-informed educational leadership.

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders on March 14
The Moms of Magnolia Street directed by Michael Bott & Sean Myers on March 28

Collaborators: Dr. Kirsten Edwards, Associate Professor at Florida International University; Debralyn Woodberry-Shaw, Commons graduate student collaborator 

Please register for one or both by emailing Debralyn Woodberry-Shaw at

March 16: Expressive Study Series

Expressive Study Series

This series invokes and inspires living in the difference through creative collective engagements with intellectual dialogues. 

Collaborators: briana rodríguez, Commons graduate collaborator; Kate Joranson, Frick Fine Arts Library Head Librarian; Janina Lopez, doctoral student, History of Art and Architecture.

Expressive Study Series: Giovanni Batz
Thursday, March 16 | 5 p.m. ET
Location TBD and Zoom

This curated series will respond to Giovanni Batz’s writing through and with materials and processes of creating. We understand making, building, and creating as embodied ways of knowing, expanding our capacity for critical inquiry. Engaging with a variety of knowledge traditions through and with materials invites us to see our creative and liberatory practices as situational and relational. We are reflecting on the following questions:

  • What can we learn about liberatory pedagogies by being in dialogue with authors working in multiple knowledge traditions?
  • What role does imagination play in critical consciousness and movement building?

Join us as Dr. Giovanni Batz discusses his new book, La Cuarta Invasión: Historias y resistencia del Pueblo Ixil, y su lucha contra la Hidroeléctrica Palo Viej en Cotzal, Quiché, Guatemala.

This hybrid event is open to the public. The event includes a virtual talk and an in-person creative activity directly following the talk. Register here.

For questions or accomodations, email briana rodríguez at

Flyer for March 16 Giovanni Batz event

April 5 and April 12: Breaking the Mold: Spotlighting and Reflecting on Approaches to Facilitating Learning in K-12 Education

Breaking the Mold: Spotlighting and Reflecting on Approaches to Facilitating Learning in K-12 Education
Virtual Series
Partnership with Remake Learning

Part 1

Out-of-school and in-school educators will spend time in community with each other reflecting on and discussing their approaches to facilitating learning in young people.

Date/Time: April 5, 2023 | 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Registration: Email

Contact Information: Debralyn Woodberry-Shaw,

Lead Partner: The Kinloch Commons for Critical Pedagogy and Leadership at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Part 2

Remake Learning will spotlight three organizations (Hatch Partners in Play, Homewood Children’s Village, Environmental Charter School) that are facilitating learning in bold and innovative ways.

Date/Time: April 12, 2023 | 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.


Contact Information: Stephanie Lewis,

Lead Partner: Remake Learning

A Spark Place: A Pre-Tenure Writing Group

Please check back for more information.

Related Events

Collaborators and Partners

Leadership and Pedagogy Projects with:

  • Anne Arundel Community College
  • The Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania
  • City of Revere
  • Florida International University College of Arts, Sciences, & Education
  • Tufts University Department of Education