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Esports & Education: How HBCUs Are Leveling the Field


Contact: Ryan McKenna

Phone: (202) 691-4217

May 20, 2021

WASHINGTON - The Serious Games Initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, along with leadership from Johnson C. Smith University, is proud to announce the event Esports & Education: How HBCUs are Leveling the Field on June 4, from 12pm EDT to 4pm EDT.

Esports, or “electronic sports,” refers to the growing industry where video games are played competitively. The industry is worth approximately $1 billion as of 2019, and is projected to be worth $4.28 billion by 2027.

To tap into this industry, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are supporting the growth of clubs and teams on their campuses; creating curriculums around esports and promoting academic success; and reaching beyond their campus to support young K-12 students. College esports programs can be aligned with athletics, treated as an extracurricular activity, or aligned with core curriculums and STEM education.

The “Esports & Education” event will focus on how HBCUs are engaging with esports: What does it mean to “do” esports today for HBCUs? What is informing the shape of esports programming on HBCU campuses, and what does the future hold for esports? How can we make esports more diverse?

This program will feature speakers from seven HBCUs and community-based programs, as well as a demonstration of esports play in the form of video from an NBA2K league play and the Minecraft EDU HBCU Hackathon. A full list of speakers is provided below.

The NBA2K league play session, presented by Cxmmunity, a nonprofit based out of Atlanta, GA that is committed to increasing participation in minority esports through STEAM development. Tournament and league play this year has taken place virtually, connecting students across HBCUs under the flagship of HBCU esports. Participants of the league play and founders of Cxmmunity will talk about this experience and show footage of esports play at the event.

For the Minecraft HBCU Esports Hackathon, students from across 20 HBCUs are competing to build their school’s “Yard” as the arena within Minecraft: Education Edition. Final submissions will be sent prior to the event, and will be judged by a panel of experts from the learning games field. The winning arena will then be played by D.C. Public School students, with footage of their efforts shown as part of the program.

“Esports & Education” is a showcase of the 8th Annual ED Games Expo, a free all-virtual showcase of game-changing innovations in education technology developed through programs across the government. Follow the ED Games Expo on social media @USEdGov and by using the #EDGamesExpo hashtag.

Speakers include:

  • Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX 30th District), Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
  • John Cash, Associate Professor, Johnson C. Smith University; Chief Business Development & Education Officer, Cxmmunity
  • Dr. Laura Colson, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Bennett College
  • Sedika Franklin, MBA, Associate Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Dr. Bernadette Lawson-Williams, Professor of Sport Management; Advisor of Esports and Gaming Management Program, Johnson C. Smith University
  • Dr. Kevin James, President, Morris Brown College
  • Dr. Robbie Melton, Associate Vice President - SMART Global Technology Innovation Center; Dean - Graduate School - Graduate Professional Studies; Tennessee State University
  • Dr. Elizabeth M. H. Newbury, Director of the Serious Games Initiative, Wilson Center
  • Christopher Turner, GM & Head Esports Coach, Southern University
  • Julian Waddell, Executive Director of the OU Launch Pad/Entrepreneurship Center, Oakwood University

The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.

The Wilson Center’s Serious Games Initiative (SGI) communicates science and policy complexities through the world’s most dynamic medium: gaming. Since its founding, SGI has been a leader in the government uses of games and the serious games field, supporting the broader ecosystem of serious games through the development, research, and amplification of positive uses for games.

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Science and Technology Innovation Program

The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) serves as the bridge between technologists, policymakers, industry, and global stakeholders.  Read more

Serious Games Initiative

The Serious Games Initiative communicates science and policy complexities through the world’s most dynamic medium: gaming.  Read more