Ci3 Co-Sponsors Sexual and Reproductive Justice Graduate Student Working Conference

Call for Proposals: 3rd Annual Sexual and Reproductive Justice Graduate Student Working Conference,

May 15, 2015

Abstract Deadline: February 23rd, 2015

We invite submissions to a graduate student working conference on questions concerning sexuality, reproduction and justice. This conference is co-sponsored by the the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3), Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS), and the Urban Network. The purpose of this working conference is to provide a forum for graduate students (including law students, medical students and residents) to receive critical feedback on their ongoing projects from other graduate students from across disciplines working on similar questions of sexuality, reproduction, and justice. The conference will be held May 15, 2015 at the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

The reproductive rights framework has historically focused on protecting legal rights to abortion and contraception. A reproductive justice framework views reproductive choice through both human rights and social justice lenses. While the definition has evolved over time as the movement behind it has grown, reproductive justice seeks for all people to have the social, political and economic power and resources to make decisions about their health, bodies, sexuality and families for themselves and their community. The term “sexual justice” does not have the same resonance or history as the concept of reproductive justice and this conference seeks to link the earlier reproductive agenda with larger concerns of sexuality, including sexual health and sexual rights, as primary for the construction of a just society.

This working conference will allow graduate students to present to one another work and ongoing research exploring the relationship between sexuality, reproduction, and the public sphere. Below are some suggestions for possible topics. This list is by no means exhaustive; we are interested in any submission that is related to the broader questions of sexual and/or reproductive justice, with particular interest in papers that address issues of positive, healthy sexual and reproductive lives in an urban setting or that explore how urban landscapes and sociopolitical structures intersect with the sexual, gendered, and reproductive lives of urban youth—particularly youth of color.

  • Public regulation of sexuality and reproduction
  • Construction of reproductive capacities
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Sex education
  • Sexuality in reproduction
  • Sexual Agency and Consent
  • Sexuality and Morality
  • Queer Sexualities
  • Sex in the Marketplace
  • Sexuality, Reproduction, and Identity
  • Social Justice and Sexuality
  • Embodiment of sexualities or reproduction
  • Coerced Reproduction
  • Violent Publics and Privates (i.e., Prison Violence, Domestic Violence)
  • Activism surrounding Sexuality and Reproduction
  • Intersections of sexuality and reproduction with economic security

Papers will be pre-circulated amongst participants, and each will be expected to have read all papers. Participants will have an opportunity to present in front of their peers and to comment in turn. We hope to put into conversation students from different fields to enrich the feedback on an issue that spans disciplinary concerns. This event will also be open to the public, who will have an opportunity to address presenters at the end of the session.

We invite proposals for papers and current ongoing research from all disciplines. Please submit as an attachment a title, an abstract from 300-500 words, your name, discipline, degree level, and email to sexualjusticeconference@gmail.comby February 23, 2015. You will be notified of paper acceptance by March 9, 2015. We expect all accepted papers to be submitted by May 1, 2015. Please email with any questions.

South Side Stories Spotlight, February 2015: First Loves

South Side Stories February

Each month, Ci3’s South Side Stories features digital stories that spotlight the lives of adolescents and young adults from the South Side of Chicago. This month’s Spotlight focuses on first love, as told by our youth partners who are close to those “first” experiences. In the following stories, youth describe their first experiences with romantic love, reflecting on the role these experiences play in shaping their identity, relationships to others and hopes for the future.

Alexia’s story, Rumors, describes how powerful — and painful — a first encounter with love can be. She recalls, “Every girl never forgets her first love. In this case, I wish I could.” In high school, she met someone who made her feel cared for and accepted, as she explains, “The truth is, I felt special to be wanted. I wanted him to want me. Everyone loves the feeling of being wanted.” As the relationship progresses, Alexia describes how professions of love become requests for sex, leaving her feeling pressured. When the relationship becomes public, she becomes the subject of rumors, and describes feeling betrayed and isolated. She recalls: “What made me feel even lower was not having anyone to talk to. I realized who my real friends were at that moment.” Her experience changed her way of seeing the world, as she developed a fear of being judged and an inability to trust others. Despite the turmoil of this relationship, Alexia finds resilience within herself: “I still haven’t given up on love. I hope that one day, I will get my fairy tale ending.”


In his story, Bonds, Demetrius describes the critical role his partner plays in his social and emotional development. When his parents divorced, he is shocked and hurt by what happens to his family: “I never thought my Dad would betray my Mom.” He reacts by putting up walls to protect himself from being hurt by others. This coping mechanism works until his partner begins to ask about his real feelings,“My girlfriend is the closest person to me besides my family. She asked me recently: ‘how come I’ve never seen you cry?’…I told her how scared I was of being hurt…how I cover everything up with a smile.” In his story, he describes how he can trust her and as a result begins to trust others, “Because of her, I now am able to let people in, I now have the ability to create stronger bonds with people.”

Tia’s story, Closer, is about a cycle of loss and renewal. She falls in love with a young man in her South Side neighborhood“where every block is hot, and nobody is safe.” Her mom, concerned about the violence in their community, moves the family to a new neighborhood. But Tia wants to retain the relationship with her boyfriend, saying,“me moving away wasn’t me moving on.” However, with greater geographic distance, the relationship begins to fall apart. She describes trying to contact her boyfriend on her cell phone and the repeated cycle of “he picks up, hangs up, dial tone.” Tia blames her mother for her loss, “Mommy, I hate you”. . But then, as time passes, she forgives, understands, and accepts her mother’s decision. She describes spending more time with her mother and the joy that comes from their conversations and closeness. As she relinquishes her old love, Tia addresses her mother: “We’re closer now. The love you give is something many people put their hands together at night and pray for.”

A’jua opens her story, Four Corners, wryly: “I’m a teenage girl, so you guessed it right if you said it was about boys.” A’jua’s first love grew out of an important friendship. A certain intersection in Chicago, four corners, reminds her of their shared love of music and the places where they hung out together. But when the friendship tips into romance, the relationship sours. Following a first kiss, A’jua recounts “he texted and said that it didn’t feel right, and neither did I.” Disappointed and hurt, A’jua admits that “when I listen to certain musicians, or meet a new boy, I think about him, and how he doesn’t even care.” Despite her hurt feelings, A’jua comes to appreciate her own worth and envisions a healthy relationship in the future: “One day soon, I will have a boyfriend who appreciates me, and thinks that every day with me is a blessing.”

We thank the authors for sharing their stories.


Click here for the full Spotlight, including broader implications and a research guide.

South Side Stories is made possible through the generous support of the Ford Foundation.

‘Bystander’: Game Designer Ashlyn Sparrow on the Power of Intervention

Patrick Jagoda and Ashlyn Sparrow

Ashlyn Sparrow (L) with GCC Co-Founder Dr. Patrick Jagoda. Photo by Nabiha Khan.

This is the first of a series of posts on Bystander, Ci3 and Game Changer Chicago Design Lab‘s digital game and intervention. Now in development, Bystander seeks to empower youth to help end sexual violence. In the following post, GCC Lab Director Ashlyn Sparrow shares why Bystander, and bystander intervention, is important to her.

2012, my senior year in college. It was late at night and I was in my dorm’s lobby. I had just finished talking with my dad. He worked overseas at the time so I relished any chance to talk with him, even if it was 3 am.  As I stood up from my chair, a guy came around the corner.  He smelled of alcohol.

He started to touch me. I tried to escape but his grip was too strong.  A few moments later, his friend found us in the lobby and quickly pulled him away from me.  He asked if I was okay and the only thing I could say was “yeah…”

What’s stopped me from talking about this incident was my own definition of sexual assault.  If it’s not rape, there’s nothing to talk about, and it’s not harassment if it doesn’t continue over an extended period of time.  So where did that put me? Who do I talk to? What could I do? What was I supposed to do?

I went back to my room and I cried myself to sleep, careful not to disturb my roommate.  I didn’t cry because of what happened, but what could have happened.

Three years later, I’m now working on a game about sexual assault called Bystander. This is an interactive narrative that targets high school youth, helping to increase awareness, skills and attitudes needed to help end sexual violence just like my own bystander helped me. You might be thinking a bystander is a person who does not take part in certain situations. Technically, that is true. However, we want to empower youth to become “active bystanders,” those who speak up and act.

In Bystander, the player takes the role of Casey, a high school junior on his way to school. While Casey sends text messages to his friends, Kaleb and Amy, a weekend event triggers his memories of a school presentation on bystander intervention. As the presenter speaks, Casey vividly imagines four scenarios as interactive moments through which the player learns skills to be a successful bystander.

In the first scenario, players navigate a high school identifying instances of sexual harassment. As the player clicks through the game, they will interact with different moments that might be sexual harassment. A couple kissing is vastly different from grabbing a stranger’s butt. However, many youth do not realize that unwanted catcalling is also a form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is simply defined as conduct that is sexual in nature, unwanted, and creates a hostile environment. Every school is required to follow reporting guidelines laid out by Title IX, a law requiring educational institutions to have policies and procedures against sexual harassment. With this knowledge at hand, players must work through each scenes and correctly ways to intervene, finally reporting all forms of sexual harassment to their guidance counselor.

The next scenario deals with partner sexual assault, as the player has a conversation with a young woman assaulted by her boyfriend. The player must deny rape myths as she tells her story by choosing the proper dialogue options. In this scenario we represent culturally accepted rape myths such as “she asked for it,” “she lied,” or “he didn’t mean to.” Here, we begin to model dialogue that affirms but does not place blame on the victim. It doesn’t matter what a one wears, or how one acts, sex without consent is wrong.

Our third scenario focuses on alcohol and sexual assault in a party. The player is at a party and witnesses an impending assault by a male friend. Alternating between two points of view, the player must interact with each scene finding ways to they could potentially intervene, however not every prop is a potential solution.

Finally, scenario four has players search for resources to help a male friend who has been sexually assaulted.  The friend asks a series of questions that will be displayed on screen (e.g. “Who could I report this to?”).  The player must type an answer into an empty text field. If the answer isn’t known they can use their phone, which allows players to explore in-game websites on sexual violence and assault. Here, the player can look for answers and find more information to the friend’s questions.

The game design process has not been terribly difficult. But it does help that we’ve solidified our educational game design process that includes:

  • Extensive literature review
  • Set learning objectives
  • Find a basic game mechanic
  • Prototype and test

Bystander is the first Game Changer project to go through this pipeline from start to finish.  Researchers and game designers are slowly becoming more accustomed to working with each other—emphasis on slowly. It’s hard to work across disciplines but ultimately allows us to create new and innovative ways to engage youth in sexual reproductive health.

We are putting the final touches on the narrative script, and securing actors to portray the main characters. By late January, Bystander will be ready to play test with youth.  Hopefully, we’ll see some attitudes change but our research phase will not begin until April.

Working on this game has opened my eyes and releasing this to high schools is giving back the only way I know how. I never really thought of myself as an activist, just a humble game designer. However, like a bystander, there are multiple ways to intervene.

GCC Seeks Actor for 2/7 Video Shoot – PAID

Bystander header v2

Ci3 and Game Changer Chicago Design Lab are seeking a Latino actor to pose as a main character in their new digital game, Bystander. Bystander is a narrative-based computer game designed to be a novel, engaging, and informative way to discuss sexual violence with high school teens, which will be used in schools and youth serving organizations.

The actor should be between 14 and 22 years of age (playing a 17-year-old high school student). He will be compensated $15/hr for 2-3 hours, receive mention in the game credits, a still professional photograph of their game character [expected delivery: April 2015], and two single-ride Ventra cards for travel.

The shoot will be held on the University of Chicago on Saturday, February 7th. If interested, please send a photo and contact information to Erin Jaworski at or call 773-834-9965 for more information.

Dr. Melissa Gilliam at Discover UChicago San Francisco – Feb. 3

Dr. Gilliam Inquiry Impact Seattle

Dr. Melissa Gilliam presents on games and learning at Discover UChicago Seattle. Photo courtesy of UChicago Alumni.

Section of Family Planning Chief and Ci3 Founder and Director Dr. Melissa Gilliam will present as part of Discover UChicago San Francisco on Tuesday, February 3.

The event is part of the University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact. According to the campaign website, Inquiry and Impact is the most ambitious campaign in UChicago history, aiming to support faculty and research, practitioners and patients, and students and programs across the University. Over the next several months, the campaign will hold events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, New York and London. Watch the campaign video.

Dr. Gilliam previously participated in Discover UChicago Seattle on January 13.

RSVP to Discover UChicago San Francisco.

Ci3’s Lee Hasselbacher Quoted in “Guardian” Article

Lee Hasselbacher

Image courtesy of Lee Hasselbacher

Lee Hasselbacher, JD, policy coordinator for Ci3 and the University of Chicago Section of Family Planning & Contraceptive Research, was quoted in a January 15 article on abortion rights, published in The Guardian. 

In the article, entitled “Restricting abortion high on the agenda for Republican-controlled Congress,” Hasselbacher expressed concern that individuals think of abortion as separate from women’s reproductive healthcare, and optimism that this attitude is changing.

Read the full article.

Game Changer Chicago Design Lab Still Seeking Youth for “Bystander” Photo Shoot Jan. 24

Now in development, “Bystander” is a digital game that also serves as an intervention to increase the skills, attitudes, and awareness to empower youth to help end sexual violence.

(Note: please consider submitting even if you have a conflict with the January 24 shoot date, as additional shoots may be scheduled as needed.)

Information below. Interested youth can send name, age, school and photo to Ci3 Research Specialist Erin Jaworski at


Ci3 Seeks Youth Ages 15-24 for Mobile App Dev – PAID

Mobile App development pic

Are you between the ages of 15-24 and interested in contraception, STI prevention and technology?

Ci3 is seeking young people to assist in the development of a mobile app to help youth make healthy decisions about contraception and STI prevention. Please contact Dr. Lucy Hebert at (773) 834-7196 or to confirm your spot.

  • What will I be doing? You will help to design a mobile app, by engaging in a series of group discussions focusing on pregnancy and STI prevention. We will lead every session, and all you have to do is come ready to participate. We even provide dinner!
  • What is the time commitment? You will participate in 8 sessions (dates TBA) over the next 2 years. Each session will last 1-2 hours.
  • Where will it take place? All sessions will be held at the Ci3 offices (1225 E. 60th St. on The University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park).
  • What do I get out of it? Over the course of 2 years, you will be compensated $300.

For more information, please contact Dr. Lucy Hebert at (773) 834-7196 or

Ci3 Executive Director Named Keynote Speaker at April 18 Diversity Symposium

Ci3 Executive Director, Dr. Brandon Hill. Image courtesy of Dr. Brandon Hill.

Ci3 Executive Director, Dr. Brandon Hill. Image courtesy of Dr. Brandon Hill.

Ci3 Executive Director Dr. Brandon Hill will deliver the keynote speech at Ancona School’s 3rd Annual Diversity Symposium on Saturday, April 18 in Chicago. This year’s symposium will explore gender fluidity and nonconformity in the context of parenting and teaching. Dr. Hill’s keynote will be followed by breakout sessions such as “Reclaiming Our Gender Narrative” and “Custom You, Custom Gender Identity” and a performance by About Face Theatre. Educators, parents, school leaders, and community members interested in multicultural education are welcome to attend. Click here for tickets.

Game Changer Chicago Seeks Youth Ages 14-18 for “Bystander” Characters

Now in development, “Bystander” is a digital game that also serves as an intervention to increase the skills, attitudes, and awareness to empower youth to help end sexual violence.

Information below. Interested youth can send name, age, school and photo to Ci3 Research Specialist Erin Jaworski at

Bystander - January Flyer