"College should be more like Comic Con..."
I had the distinct pleasure to attend the fifth annual geekEd panel at San Diego Comic Con this year. I've seen similar presentations that have been done by some of these professionals at ACPA, but this was an excellent showing by this group and featured many professionals I have never heard speak before.
The panel was moderated by Brian MacDonald and consisted of Brian Arao, Alfred Day, Michelle Kittel, Patricia Nguyen, Liz Krulder, and Emily Sandoval. It was really great to especially hear from Liz about her experience as a student at Fresno State University who worked on developing their first "Geek Week" type event for their campus. All of the panelists came from different institutions and organizations, which itself brought a diversity of perspectives. The panelists also had very different backgrounds and outlooks on what made engaging the nerd/geek community so important and how the mediums of comics, video games, and entertainment can be used to start important discussions of current events.
A few of the big, actionable takeaways I had were about making the college environment a place where students (and staff) feel safe to be themselves and be unabashedly into whatever they love. This could mean allowing for geeky decorations in your office, encouraging and celebrating clubs of all sorts for students to find their niche, and making being smart cool. So much bullying and unfortunate discouragement happens before students get to college, but we can make our campuses a welcoming place for all so that in this pivotal time for students to find themselves, they can figure out who that really is without any of the baggage they picked up beforehand.
I've created a resource page for the folks that presented, which will be continually evolving to include new books, videos, and articles that are relevant, as well as contact info to connect with some of the awesome geeky professionals out there doing good work in this space.