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Esports & Education: How HBCUs are Leveling the Field

Date & Time

Jun. 4, 2021
12:00pm – 4:00pm ET


Millions of people worldwide participate in the growing phenomenon of esports, the activity where video games played competitively, much like traditional sports. Thousands of students nationwide are participating in esports, both in K-12 and the collegiate scene. Yet how esports is fitted into educational environments varies. Esports in education can range from treating it as part of the athletics program, an extracurricular activity, a community-based effort, or aligning it to core curriculums. 

What remains consistent is the lack of diversity for both those who play esports and the spaces in which esports occurs. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are trying to change this by 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.

This programming 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?

In doing so, we hope to highlight ways to build capacity by showing what is needed to launch an esports program.

Questions regarding this event can be directed to Dr. Elizabeth Newbury, Director of the Serious Games Initiative, 

This event is hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars' Serious Games Initiative, with leadership from Johnson C. Smith University. This event is part of the 2021 and 8th Annual ED Games Expo, a showcase of game-changing innovations in education technology supported by programs across government. Technical assistance for this event was provided by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Tentative Agenda:

12 PM                                              Welcome

12:15 PM                                         Esports in Education: Overview

Elizabeth M H Newbury, PhD, Director, The Serious Games Initiative, The Wilson Center

12:30 PM       No One Way To Build Esports Programs on HBCU Campuses


  • Dr. Kevin James, President, Morris Brown College
  • Dr. Laura Colson McLean, Vice President of Student Affairs, Bennett College
  • Julian Waddell, Executive Director of the OU Launch Pad/Entrepreneurship Center, Oakwood University
  • Sedika Franklin, MBA, Associate Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Moderator: Elizabeth M H Newbury, PhD, Director, The Serious Games Initiative, The Wilson Center

1:30PM                                              Play Session: NBA2K

Presented by Cxmmunity

2:00 PM         Crafting Esports and Gaming Programs for Academic Success


  • Dr. BerNadette Lawson-Williams, Professor of Sport Management; Advisor of Esports and Gaming Management Program, Johnson C. Smith University
  • Dr. Robbie Melton, Associate Vice President - SMART Global Technology Innovation Center; Dean - Graduate School - Graduate Professional Studies; Tennessee State University
  • Christopher Turner, GM & Head Esports Coach, Southern University
  • Moderator: John Cash, Associate Professor, Johnson C. Smith University; Chief Business Development & Education Officer, Cxmmunity

3PM                   Play Session: Minecraft EDU HBCU Esports Hackathon

Building Voice & Advocacy Through Coding and D.C. Public School Minecraft Play –Building Community Through Connection

Prior to the ED Games Expo, HBCU teams participated in a competition to build their school’s “yard” as the arena within Minecraft. The most liked arena will be played by students at selected DCPS schools and shown at the event.

Hosted By

Serious Games Initiative

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

Science and Technology Innovation Program

The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) brings foresight to the frontier. Our experts explore emerging technologies through vital conversations, making science policy accessible to everyone.  Read more