The VizE Lab collaborated with Frederick Wherry (SOC), the Dignity + Debt Network, and the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program to hold a conference, “Digging Out With Dignity” on Friday, October 18. The conference addressed the crisis in student loan debt from a range of social and financial perspectives. Speaker discussed the racial disparities, the values and structural constraints on both access to students loans and the ability for families to repay them. Conference panelists included leading scholars on student loan debt, student activists from Chile and Kenya, and journalists from on-line media to The Washington Post.
At the Conference, the VizE Lab launched its new gallery of visualizations on racial disparities in student loan debt, "The Problem of Colored Lines,” inspired by the style of charts made by sociologist and historian W.E.B Du Bois. We are featuring an interactive chart with which users can compare their student loan debt to a number of US groups, as well as calculate ways to reduce their debt and pay off loans faster. The gallery also features a global contest on Visualizing Student Debt With Dignity 2020 that invites scholars and activities to consider what can be done to promote financial autonomy and educational inclusion. Submissions will appear at dignityanddebt.org and five prizes of $1,000 will be awarded.
Directed by Jeffrey Himpele, the VizE Lab will continue its collaboration with the Dignity + Debt Network join forces with the SSRC and Aspen to use visualizations in connection with research in order to accelerate the changing global conversations about student debt. We seek to envision change at the level of policy, educational institutions as well as the meanings of debt for students and families.