Systems Thinking For Educational Equity Partnership (STEEP) 2018

In July 2018, STEEP convened thirty St. Louis area educators for a three-day workshop at the Cortex Innovation Community (CIC) to use systems thinking mapping and modeling to understand the complex systems that affect their students and classrooms—and identify leverage points for change. Participants engaged with system dynamics and systems thinking tools to explore educational equity, while simultaneously learning how to adapt these strategies to engage K-12 students in critical thinking on social justice issues. STEEP is a collaboration between Educators for Social Justice, SkipNV, Venture Café, and the Social System Design Lab. STEEP offered educators the immersive experience of being a participant in Community Based System Dynamics activities, with debriefs after each activity in which the group discussed activity design and adaptations for K-12 students. Following the two-day participant experience, teachers had breakout time to design and practice their own CBSD projects, with consultation from the facilitation team.

Project Lead

Ellis Ballard, MSW MPH

Allie Simpson, MSW

Start-End Date



St. Louis, MO, USA


Educators for Social Justice (ESJ)


Venture Cafe

Educators for Social Justice
Venture Cafe St. Lous

Project Goals

  • To gain insight into how teachers experience and think about educational equity
  • To prepare teachers to adapt and integrate systems thinking activities and tools into their classrooms
  • To introduce strategies to engage K-12 students in conversations on social justice
  • To create an opportunity for St. Louis educators to build community and collectively problem solve