What's Happening

Peacebuilding and Arts Program Director speaking at Brandeis Improv Festival
March 27

The new Brandeis minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) presents:

Now Accepting Applications:
Acting Together
Small Grants
for Educators and Universities
Applications Due: April 30
Apply Now

CAST Student Grant Opportunities
Applications Due April 1

American Theatre Magazine Features CAST, Peacebuilding and the Arts

CAST Program Awards Grants to Faculty Projects

Article: New minor brings social purpose to the arts


Internship Opportunities with Alliance for Peacebuilding
Apply by April 3

Featured Theme -
News from the Field: Artists and Ebola: Preventing, Honoring, Grieving, Healing

Featured Theme -
News from the Field: “The Most Important Images of the Year”: Artists Respond to Racial Violence in the U.S.

Article: From exile to performance, activist Gayflor inspires hope
On Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim's Residency

Forum on Peacebuilding and Traditional Arts

Play: Shivering of the Rose
Lexington, Virginia and Georgetown, Washington
March 24-31, 2015

You Reap What You Sow: Crowdfunding for Film by Pakistani Director

Theatre & Peacebuilding
in Israel
February & March 2015

Internship Opportunities with Alliance for Peacebuilding
Application Deadline: April 10

Press Release La MaMa Umbria International Spoleto Festival
Summer 2015

 - Music & Film

Brandeis and CAST student participating in Rehearsing Change study abroad program in Ecuador
Spring 2015

24th International Festival of Student Theatre
September 28 to October 2
Besançon, France
Registration Deadline: April 1

The White Mountain National Forest Artist-in-Residence Program
Applications Due: April 17

Featured Theme -
News from the Field: Artistic Responses to the Syrian Crisis 
and Artistic Responses to Other Current Global Crises

Video: The Conference of the Birds

Reflections from IPRA's 25th General Conference

Video: Interview with Catherine Filloux about her new play "SELMA '65"

Listen to a podcast from Arts, Well-being and Resilience: Ideas and Music with Cynthia Cohen and Jane Wilburn Sapp

Video: Liberian Women's Chorus' song about abducted Nigerian girls

Listen to a podcast of a panel on the theme of Resilience, the Arts and Social Transformation at the UBIAS conference that featured Dr. Cynthia Cohen and many more

Press Release Summary from 25th IPRA General Conference
August 10-14
Istanbul, Turkey

View a video from
"Composing Our Lives
Together" song-writing
workshop with Jane Sapp

Don West unveils portrait of Jane and Hubert Sapp at "Seeking Lives of Purpose"

Acting Together short film featured in Culture Unplugged film festival

Read reflection by Cindy Cohen: "Synergy: Women, Creativity & Peacebuilding"

Read review by Anthony Ellis of the Acting Together anthology.

View video: Presentation by the Ulafa’a Visual Artists of Bahrain

“Acting Together” Documentary receives the “Spirit of Place” Award

Ethics Central: Winter/Spring 2013 issue featuring Rose Art Museum Exhibit and From Bahrain to Brandeis and Back Again

Read a review of the Acting Together documentary by Shoshana Zeldner, featured by the Compathos Foundation

Read a Book Review
by Serge Loode of the
Acting Together Anthology 
Vol. I & II

Acting Together Documentary

holding hands

Watch the preview!

Find out about "Acting Together" screenings near you.


Read the latest issue of our newsletter, Peacebuilding and the Arts Now.

Sign up to receive updates about the Peacebuilding and the Arts program and the Acting Together project.


Small Grants for Course Development in Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict 
Application Deadline: April 30, 2015
Apply now

ATdocThe Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University is offering $500 grants to college and university educators to support efforts to incorporate the resources of the Acting Together project into curricula. The resources include a documentary film, a toolkit of resources for teaching and learning, and a two-volume anthology.

Grant recipients will also receive:

Applications are welcome from faculty members teaching in Theater, Performance Studies, Community Art, or any of the creative arts; or in Peace and Justice studies, Development, Conflict Transformation, Trauma Studies, Foreign Relations, Global Studies, Politics, Sociology, Anthropology, etc. We are especially interested in receiving applications from members of the faculty of institutions with limited resources for media acquisition, including:
  • Historically Black colleges and universities
  • Institutions with high Hispanic enrollment
  • Tribal colleges and universities
  • Community Colleges

Learn more about the small grants.  Apply now!

Applications due April 30, 2015.

CAST Grants for Student Projects Related to Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation

Applications Due: April 1

In the 2014-2015 academic year, Brandeis’s new minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) anticipates awarding two grants of up to $500 each for projects proposed by students enrolled in the introductory course, or who have previously taken The Arts of Building Peace. Read more and apply.


Video of remarks by Paul Smith, Director of British Council, USA on 'Culture and Conflict' at Reception Honoring Liberian Singer Fatu Gaylor & CAST Supporter Naomi Sinnreich
March 3, 2015, 4:50 - 6:00 pm
Slosberg Music Center Atrium
paulvideoImmediately following presentations by Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim in an open session of the Intro to CAST course, a reception and informal gathering was hosted as part of their March 2015 residency at Brandeis. Featured guests included Paul Smith, the director of the British Council in the USA and Cultural Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. He spoke briefly at the reception about 'Culture and Conflict' more broadly, bringing insight from his previous posts in New Zealand, India and Afghanistan. View the video.

Folklore Project event Saturday examines arts as
Philly.com  |  March 20, 2015


"When the Liberian Women's Chorus for Change performed for soldiers involved in that country's civil war, Philadelphia Folklore Project Director of Programs Toni Shapiro-Phim said that some in the audience were so moved that they handed their guns to the performers as a sign of peace.

The artists from the same group performed in different communities with people of varied ethnic backgrounds as a model for reconciliation in the country, Shapiro-Phim said.

Shapiro-Phim said these are perfect examples of what the PFP's event tomorrow, "Peacebuilding and Traditional Arts: A Forum," will discuss - how traditional arts and social-justice work can combine to create positive change in communities. The event, which will feature a performance by the Liberian Women's Chorus for Change, will run from 2:30 to 5 p.m., at The Performance Garage....

...In addition to the discussions and performances, Cynthia Cohen, of Brandeis University's Peacebuilding and the Arts Initiative, will present the documentary "Acting Together on the World Stage." The film is about artistic endeavors in regions of conflict, and how these efforts can help communities heal after tragedies like mass violence. .." Read more.

From exile to performance, activist Gayflor inspires hope

On Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim's Residency
hootBrandeis Hoot
March 6, 2015

"Exiled from her home country in the midst of civil war, Fatu Gayflor, renowned vocalist, founder and artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, spoke to the Brandeis community on Thursday, March 5 to share legacies of loss, violence, resilience and hope. Now settled in Philadelphia, Gayflor stated, 'Telling my story has helped me to be the strong person I am today.'

Gayflor is one of four acclaimed vocalists comprising the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, an initiative of the Philadelphia Folklore Project, which seeks to share experiences of domestic violence and post conflict reconciliation through song and performance. Joined by Tori Shapiro-Phim, director of programs for the Philadelphia Folklore Project, Gayflor shared her experiences as a former refugee and survivor of civil war.

In an exclusive interview with The Brandeis Hoot following her performance, Gayflor revealed her incredible journey through war-torn Liberia to her rise as an acclaimed vocalist inspiring hope in her audiences across the world...." Read more.

American Theatre Magazine Features CAST, Peacebuilding and the Arts

American Theatre magazine is featuring the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts and the new minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) and in a feature of university and college programs that focus on the nexus between theatre and social change.

"Within Brandeis’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life is a groundbreaking program called Peacebuilding and the Arts. A leader in social justice programming among university campuses, Brandeis created Peacebuilding and the Arts to give artists working in conflict zones a toolkit for enacting positive change. Students are encouraged to document their work and share their productions with colleagues and peers. The school’s new minor (Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation) offers students a multivalent education across the arts, humanities and social sciences, combined with internship opportunities with a variety of organizations...." Read more.

CAST Program Grants Support Innovative Work by Brandeis Faculty

The faculty committee of the minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) has just awarded grants of $2,000 each to four members of the Brandeis faculty for research and creative projects. The awards will support creative and scholarly inquiry into theory and practice at the nexus of arts, culture and social change; enhance teaching and advising; and animate an interdisciplinary conversation about creativity, social justice and peacebuilding through the arts. Read more about the inaugural projects.

These awards are possible through generous funding from the Max and Sunny Howard Memorial Foundation and the vision of Naomi Sinnreich P ’13.


CAST Faculty Award REcipients. Left to Right: 
Prof. Adrianne Krstansky, Prof. Judith Eissenberg,
Azlin Perdomo, and Prof. Ilana Szobel. 

Reflections from IPRA's 25th General Conference

Cynthia Cohen traveled to the IPRA 25th General Conference in August in her role as convenor of the IPRA Arts & Peace Commission. A number of our colleagues from around the world who work at the intersection of the arts and peacebuilding also attended the conference, and have provided us with reflections about their experiences at that convening. The formats range from general reflections on the overall conference, to reflections on specific conference sessions, to poems, to photo essays. Thanks to Ellen Frank, Eva Rodriguez Riestra, Paola Helena Acosta Sierra & María Elisa Pinto García, and Sara Dobbs. We invite you to read the reflections below. Read Cynthia Cohen’s reflections here.

Gathering of Acting Together, IPRA Arts & Peace
Commission, and Turkish theater colleagues at Kadir
Has University, Istanbul. Photo credit: Bilge Gulturk

Eva Rodriguez Riestra: A Photo Essay, IPRA 2014 Istanbul - Impressions from an Arts + Peace Commission Delegate


Tower of Light, Kapalicarsi
(Grand Bazaar)
Photo credit:
Eva Rodriguez Riestra

“This post tries to capture the conference experience from the point of view of a member of the Arts and Peace Commission, which has a reputation for being diverse, entertaining, challenging and inspiring. Starting at the very beginning, [a photo of] group of IPRA delegates from all corners of the world: Philippines, Nigeria, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Uganda, Pakistan and Australia found each other at Ataturk airport on a sweltering hot day…” Read more and view Eva's photo essay

Paola Helena Acosta Sierra & María Elisa Pinto García: Panel on Art-based peacebuilding activities in Colombia at IPRA 2014
“During the 25th General Conference of the International Peace Research Association –IPRA– ‘Uniting For Peace: Building Sustainable Peace Through Universal Values’ held in Istanbul, Turkey on August 11-15 2014, a panel about art-based peacebuilding activities in Colombia took place within the Arts and Peace Commission. Paola Helena Acosta from Politecnico Grancolombiano University, María Elisa Pinto from Prolongar Foundation and Santo Tomas University, and Gloria Patricia Zapata from Juan N. Corpas University presented three papers related to the armed conflict in Colombia with three different art-based initiatives aiming to overcome this conflict. The studies focused on the link between art and peace, stressing on the opportunities but also limitations that music and theatre entail for war-torn contexts, and specifically, for Colombia….” Read more. Download the full papers by Paola Helena Acosta and María Elisa Pinto Garcia, and the abstract of a paper by Gloria Patricia Zapata.


Attendees & panelists at Panel about art-based
peacebuilding activities in Colombia within the
Arts and Peace Commission. Pictured left to
right: Kitche Magak, María Elisa Pinto, Paola
Helena Acosta, Olivier Urbain and Gloria Zapata.
Photo credit: Sinthya Rubio

Sara Dobbs: Reflection on the IPRA Conference
“The IPRA conference in Istanbul was a hit. Although the opening was daunting with a late start, long line-up and other organizational and technical inefficiencies from the hosts, the Arts and Peace presentations, with the collegial connections and shared experiences made the lack of effectiveness feel like a distant memory. The Plenary talks by Prof. Johan Galtung and Kevin Clements were exemplary, providing attendees with a well-rounded view of the condition of peace globally. Clements spoke of “the need to shift from carnage to creation” and that the fall of global peacefulness is largely driven by internal peacefulness…” Read more.

Ellen Frank: Reflection on the IPRA Conference
"I am not alone in my devotion to peacebuilding. There is a world of people so devoted. The so-dedicated gathered in the auditorium of the first day to hear the Plenary speakers. Nesrin affirmed numbers! 500 IPRA members! She named the elephant in our room: this conference was being held at a “perfect” time, during the escalation of wars in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, Baghdad. And in a perfect place: Turkey, as a link between 3 continents and armed conflict. We are necessary. We have more work on our hands, non-violent action….” Read Ellen's full reflections.  

Learn about and view Ellen’s collection “Cities of Peace.”


"Monrovia: In Constellation," from "Cities of Peace"
 collection. Image courtesy of Ellen Frank
Illumination Arts, Inc.

New Minor at Brandeis: 
Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation

CASTThe Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts is proud to announce a new interdepartmental minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation at Brandeis. The minor offers students the opportunity to explore theory and practice at the center of arts and culture, peace and justice, and creativity. It is designed for students in the arts who want to connect their creative talents to their concerns for social change, and for students in the humanities and social sciences to explore music, theater, literature and visual arts as resources for justice and peace.

Why Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation?

Throughout the world, artists, cultural workers, educators and organizers are incorporating the arts into efforts to strengthen relationships across differences and contribute to more just, less violent communities. They engage with a wide array of art forms – music, literature, theater, visual arts, storytelling, digital art and broadcast media, architecture, conceptual art and folk expressions of all kinds.

Artists and cultural workers are nourishing, restoring and strengthening the capacity of communities to live creatively, sustainably and ethically.

Creative and artistic approaches to social transformation involve people as creators, performers, producers, participants, audience members, witnesses and critics. Some initiatives operate in single neighborhoods; some are international in scope. Some are one-time events, others create institutions and processes that last for decades.

Dr. Cynthia Cohen will be teaching the introductory course, Introduction to Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST 150b), starting in spring 2015. Read more about the objectives, learning goals, and requirements for the minor. Read the description in the 2014-2015 list of courses (page 18), and read an article about CAST in the Ethics Central newsletter. Visit the CAST website. Students who are interested in signing up for the minor can email Jennifer Cleary or call 781-736-3377. 

Call for Faculty Proposals - CAST Minor

The faculty committee of the new minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation announces awards of $2000 for research and creative projects related to the new minor will be available to members of the Brandeis faculty during the next two academic years. Proposals are due October 27th. The stipends are designed to:

  • Support creative and scholarly inquiry into theory and practice at the nexus of arts, culture, and social change.
  • Enhance teaching and advising related to the educational objectives of the new minor.
  • Animate an interdisciplinary conversation about creativity, social justice, and peacebuilding through the arts.

For more information, see the call for proposals and contact Cynthia Cohen, co-chair of the CAST faculty committee.


Read about CAST in State of the Arts 
by Cynthia Cohen
in Brandeis' State of the Arts Magazine 
Fall 2014 issue

Read about CAST in the Brandeis Hoot
New minor brings social purpose to the arts
BHootThe Brandeis Hoot
October 16, 2014

Visit the CAST website

With generous funding from the Max and Sunny Howard Memorial Foundation, the minor will sponsor grants for faculty research and creative projects, and host conversations and events that will invite affiliated students and faculty into an interdisciplinary community of inquiry. We also express gratitude to Naomi Sinnreich P '13 for her vision and support.


Letter from Cynthia Cohen to students of the independent study course of spring semester 2014, “Cultural Work and Social Transformation"

During the course, students learn about the cultural work and the 40 years of experience of Jane Wilburn Sapp, a distinguished African American musician, educator activist and cultural worker, in communities struggling for social justice. Students have the opportunity to reflect on Jane’s work and its meaning in their own lives in writing and in an intimate, small group format.
 Read Cindy's letter, which includes powerful excerpts of reflections from students. 

Drum circle fosters new approach to peace
By Emily Wishingrad, Justice Editor
The Justice, Brandeis University
February 11

"The beat of 10 drums filled the Alumni Lounge of the Usdan Student Center on Tuesday evening as musician and educator Toussaint Liberator led a group of Brandeis students in a drum circle. In a collaborative effort by Brandeis Beats and ’DEIS Impact, the event Beats of Peace aimed to enlighten students about the power of drum culture and how drumming can be used as a tool for peace. During the first half of the event, Cynthia Cohen, the director of Peacebuilding and the Arts, a program affiliated with the University’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, spoke about how music, and in this case, drums, can be and have been used for peacemaking. Cohen told a story of two drummers, one of the Hutu tribe and one of the Tutsi tribe, both living during the Hutu-Tutsi conflict...." Read more.

drum circle

PEACE TALKS: Cynthia Cohen spoke about how
communal drumming can be used to assist
peace talks between groups in conflict.
Photo credit: Josh Horowitz/the Justice

Photos from "Seeking Lives of Purpose"
Photographer Don West unveiled his new portrait of Jane Wilburn Sapp and Hubert Sapp during “Seeking Lives of Purpose: Images, Songs and Stories that Challenge and Inspire,” part of ’DEIS Impact 2014. Read about the event series and view additional photos from two of the events: "Ain't You Got a Right to the Tree of Life: Spirituality and the Quest for Justice in the African-American Musical Tradition" and "Meet and Greet Artists Don West and Jane Sapp: Reception."


Photographer Don West unveils his new portrait of
Jane Wilburn Sapp and Hubert Sapp 

Acting Together short film accepted into
Culture Unplugged film festival

“Dijana Milošević: Performing Truth in the Face of Denial,” one of the short films from the Acting Together toolkit, was accepted to the online film festival Culture Unplugged! Culture Unplugged aims to integrate disparate parts of the self and the global human society, primarily by leveraging the power of new media and extending the effort to offline events and actions. The organization is committed to contemplate and contribute to personal as well as collective spiritual need of the time by focusing on inner and intercultural expression. View the film.

Reflection on a national meeting on documenting,
archiving, and communicating in the field of
community cultural development

virgtechartsA small national meeting on documentation, archiving, and communication in the field of community cultural development was hosted December 6 - 8, 2013 by the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts & Cinema, Center for the Arts, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, and Institute for Policy and Governance. Dr. Cynthia Cohen and Jane Wilburn Sapp participated in the meeting. Read a blog post by another participant Jamie Haft, Assistant Director of Imagining America. The post reflects on learnings from the meeting and explains five misconceptions about documentation, archiving, and communication in the field that the meeting helped to debunk.

Beyond Words
By Erica Granor '15
Exploring Ethics: Ethics Center Leadership Council Blog
"I’ve always loved to draw. The margins of my chemistry notebooks are dotted with doodles, my dorm room walls are plastered with sketches of landscapes and flowers. Until I became a member of the Ethics Center Leadership Council, art had always been about the aesthetic. Art took on new meaning when outreach for Peacebuilding and the Arts became my semester project for the ECLC...." Read more.

Applications now being accepted for
Composing Our Lives Together:
Song-Writing Workshop with Jane Wilburn Sapp
Sunday, February 2, 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Slosberg Recital Hall
Application deadline: January 27 (Download the application)
Part of ‘DEIS Impact 2014: The weeklong "Festival of Social Justice" at Brandeis University

Join the dynamic activist, musician, educator and cultural worker Jane Wilburn Sapp to create an original song that will inspire us to compose lives devoted to social justice. We will draw themes from Portraits of Purpose and from our own experiences and aspirations. Musical background welcome but not required. Participation limited. If you wish to attend, please download and complete the application and email it to David Stiefel deisimpactby January 27.

This event is part of the "Seeking Lives of Purpose" event series featuring Jane Wilburn Sapp and photojournalist Don West as part of 'DEIS Impact in February 2014. View the program brochure page.