What's Happening

Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation

Designing a university-based infrastructure for the field
Learn more.


Call for Papers- Creative Approaches to Transitional Justice: Contributions of Arts and Culture
2020 Special Issue, International Journal of Transitional Justice
Deadline: July 1, 2019
Guest Editor: Cynthia Cohen
View the full flyer
creative approaches


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.


Call for Applications: SU-CASA
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC)
Due: Dec. 14, 5:00pm

Support the poetry of Hilde Domin set to music 
Deadline: December 14
Hilde Domin

Story Summit for Appalachian Youth
December 14
International Storytelling Center

Featured News from the Field Theme: "Artists Respond to Climate Change"

Featured News from the Field Theme: "Creative Reflections on Human Migration"

Post-graduate course on Arts and International Cooperation - Collaborating on Fragile Contexts and Processes of Peace Building
Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland
Course begins: January 2019

Call for Papers: The Journal of Peacebuilding and Development
Abstracts Due: January 15
Full Submissions Due: February 22


The Dance + Social Justice Conference
March 9-10, 2019
Los Angeles
Free Body Conference

Naila and the Uprising
PBS Special starting March 25, 2019

Just Vision
just vision

As Criminalization of the Arts Intensifies in Cuba, Activists Organize
Yanelyz Nunez Leyva
Photo courtesy Yanelyz Nuñez Leyva, Hyperallergic

MASS Action (Museums As Site for Social Action)

Theatre. Immersion. Education. (TIE)

On Ajoka: An Interview and In Memoriam
By Fawzia Afzal-Khan

Zurich, Switzerland

Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
January 4, 2018
UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (ONCHR)

Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy - Peacebuilding Newsletter

Introducing USDAC Outposts

"Arts and Building Peace: The Basics and Envisioning the Future"
Essay by Cynthia Cohen
Peace in Progress Magazine

Theatre: Spotlight on Russia

Interview with Lee Perlman about
Book: “But Abu Ibrahim, We’re Family!”

Pop Culture Collaborative

Film: “Disturbing the Peace”
Combatants for Peace
disturbing peace

Art Radar

Quilts from Syria and Iraq
The Advocacy Project

Displaced Artists Fund Residency Program
Vermont Studio Center

A TheTheatreTimes.com
Now Seeking Contributions

Women In Music

Professor Cynthia Cohen Solves the World's Problems with Creativity
The Brandeis Hoot

Artist Protection Fund (AFP)
Apply Now


Read more News from the Field.

Updates from the Recipients
of Acting Together 
Small Grants
> New: Update on Creative Camp for Peace Building in Nepal by Mandala Theatre

: An e-Journal from Imagining America


Talk bridges improvisation and justice

USDAC "HI-LI" Creative Community Database
Accepting Project Submissions


Forum on Peacebuilding and Traditional Arts

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

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

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

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.


Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation

Designing a university-based infrastructure for the field

The Andrew J. Mellon Foundation is supporting an 18-month planning process to design an infrastructure that will leverage university-based programs and cultural institutions to support practice, policymaking, research and teaching in the field.


Over the last 15 years, numerous conferences, conversations, and reports have addressed the potential and the challenges of engaging art and culture in creating more just, more vibrant, and less violent communities. Governments and inter-governmental agencies, policy think tank, educational and cultural institutions, artists, and funders increasingly have become interested in the contributions of the arts and culture to social justice, mutual understanding, and the creative transformation of conflict. Today there is growing consensus about:

  • The need for an infrastructure that will strengthen practice and inform policy in this arena, by, for instance, documenting excellent practice, offering training and education, facilitating exchanges, coordinating responses inn case of artists at risk of human rights abuses, and addressing questions of evaluation and ethics.
  • The value of a network, consortium or organization of stable educational and cultural institutions that will serve as resource centers and as anchors for the more fluid network of individual, initiatives and organization working in communities on the ground.
Learn more about Impact: Imagining Together.

Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
January 4, 2018

Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (ONCHR)
By Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

OHCHRThis special report includes initiatives and projects that are part of Peacebuilding the Arts program network such as Arlene Golbard's writing on Medellin, the example of the United States Department of Arts and Culture, Ajoka Theatre in Pakistan, Theatre Without Borders, Lena Schlachmuijlder's research on work in Burundi (undertaken while she was a Brandeis International Fellow from 2002-2004),and Ruth Margraff's and Polly Walker's contributions to Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict.

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights addresses how actions in the field of arts and culture can make significant contributions towards creating, developing and maintaining societies in which all human rights are increasingly realized.

"By engaging people and encouraging their interaction through artistic and cultural expression, actions in the field of culture can open a space in which individuals and groups can reflect upon their society, confront and modify their perception of one another, express their fears and grievances in a non-violent manner, develop resilience after violent or traumatic experiences, including human rights violations, and imagine the future they want for themselves and how to better realize human rights in the society they live in. The increased social interactions, mutual understanding and trust that can be built or rebuilt through these initiatives are essential to achieve a range of human rights goals and to respect cultural diversity." Read more (in multiple languages).

songbook-podcast"I Feel Music Everywhere" - Jane Sapp's Songbook and Podcast Series

Coming soon! The Jane Sapp songbook features sheet music, lyrics, and the stories behind 25 songs that Jane composed with young people in communities across the country. The podcast series expands on these stories in interviews with Jane and special guests, and also features recordings of the songs. Sign up to receive email updates about the songbook and podcast series

Call for Papers: Creative Approaches to Transitional Justice: Contributions of Arts and Culture
2020 Special Issue, International Journal of Transitional Justice
Deadline for submissions: July 1, 2019

Guest Editor:
Cynthia Cohen, director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University’s International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, US.

creative approaches

The International Journal of Transitional Justice invites submissions for its 2020 Special Issue, Creative Approaches to Transitional Justice: Contributions of Arts and Culture, to be guest edited by Cynthia Cohen, director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University’s International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, US.

This Special Issue invites works that document, critically engage with, and imagine new forms of artistic and cultural research and practice in/with transitional justice processes. The Issue seeks creative approaches crafted to address the legacy of human rights abuses and to effect social reconstruction and transformation through transitional justice in the wake of widespread violence and oppression. We welcome a variety of forms, including scholarship, practitioners’ reflections and creative works suitable for presentation in print format and on the journal’s website.

Submissions are invited on any questions and themes related to creative approaches to transitional justice. The submission deadline is July 1, 2019. Learn more about the submission guidelines. Papers should be submitted online through the IJTJ webpage at academic.oup.com/ijtj. For further information, please contact the managing editor at ijtj@csvr.org.za. View the full flyer.

Call for Applicants: Grants for Student Projects Related to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) -
Fall 2016

Applications Due: November 29, 2016


In the borderland between human suffering and human possibility we find artists, cultural workers, justice-seekers and peace-builders engaged in acts of courage, creativity, beauty and power. Brandeis’s minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) engages students in interdisciplinary exploration of the stories, the people, the actions and the artworks that animate this boundary. To learn more about the minor and the questions it poses, visit go.brandeis.edu/CASTminor.

In the fall of 2016, the CAST minor anticipates awarding up to four grants of up to $500 each for projects proposed by students currently or previously enrolled in the introductory course, or who have taken the earlier course entitled The Arts of Building Peace.

The purpose of these grants is to recognize exemplary creative, scholarly and activist work at the nexus of arts, culture, justice and peace, and enable students to engage in further creative work and theoretical and practical learning about questions that are central to the minor.

The award provides funds for activities that will take place between the end of the fall semester and April 1, 2017.

Applications will be due on 11:59 on Sunday, November 29, 2016.

Read more about the grant opportunity.

Read examples of past recipients.

View application and apply!

Professor Cynthia Cohen Solves the World's Problems with Creativity
The Brandeis Hoot
| October 7, 2016 | By Brianna Cummings
"Professor Cynthia Cohen is a noteworthy intellectual, who has made major contributions to both Brandeis and the world. The current director of the Peacebuilding and the Arts program and the acting director of the Ethics Center, Cohen has also created the Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) minor at Brandeis.

Cohen has been working at Brandeis and studying coexistence and the arts since 1997. During this time, she says that the students at Brandeis inspired her with the idea to create the CAST program. 'As I came to know Brandeis students, I realized how many of them were interested in both contributing to social justice and cultivating their talents as artists,' Cohen says..." Read more.

Letter from the Co-Convenors and Advisors of the Art & Peace Commission of the IPRA

"This year, the co-convenors and advisors of the Art & Peace Commission have made the difficult decision of not attending the IPRA conference in Sierra Leone. We sincerely hope that the situation will be resolved by the time of the next IPRA conference in 2018, but in the meantime, we have reached a consensus that it was imperative to show our disapproval of the authoritarian type of management displayed by the current leaders.

For instance, we thought that the way in which the IPRA leadership attempted to remove some Commission Convenors from their positions, and appoint new ones, without adequate consultation, was detrimental to an organization purporting to support peace by peaceful means. In any case, it is now too late and it seems that IPRA is moving ahead as if nothing had happened, so we have decided, with considerable regret, to refrain from attending the conference in November and December 2016 in Sierra Leone. At the same time, we recognize the value of the commission to its members and to IPRA as a whole, and we are not discouraging others from participating.

Looking forward to 2018, we'll be happy to continue exchanging news and reports on activities and research with all members of our Art & Peace Commission through our facebook page and many other ways. Many thanks for your continued support."

Maria Elisa Pinto Garcia
Kitche Magak
Kyoko Okumoto
Olivier Urbain
Cindy Cohen

Creative Approaches to Conflict Transformation - A Conversation with Germaine Ingram and Cindy Cohen
The Brandeis Hoot

February 5, 2016


Germaine Ingram
Photo credit: JJ Tizio

"Germaine Ingram is an activist and tap dancer as well as the keynote speaker for ’DEIS Impact. She spoke with Cindy Cohen, the director of Brandeis’ Peacebuilding and the Arts program, about the importance of art in the midst of conflict on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The conversation centered around Ingram’s experience as the head of a legal team in the Philadelphia school district..."

Read full article in the Brandeis Hoot.

Ingram dances between the law and arts in 'DEIS Impact keynote
Brandeis NOW

February 5, 2016


Germaine Ingram
Photo credit: Mike Lovett

In the keynote address for 'DEIS Impact, Germaine Ingram delivered a speech that examined issues of social justice in the legal arena and offered her interpretation of the artistic experience, all interspersed with music and dance performances.

It was an appropriate combination for Ingram, who is both an acclaimed jazz tap dancer and an accomplished civil rights lawyer. Before turning to her performance career full-time, Ingram practiced law for 30 years, litigating employment discrimination class action suits, and challenging policies and practices that limited employment opportunities for women and minorities...."

Read full article from Brandeis NOW.

Ingram chosen as keynote for ’DEIS Impact
The Justice

January 19, 2016

"For civil rights lawyer Germaine Ingram, life is equal parts scholarship, art and social justice; her tap dancing performances often focus on historical and social justice themes, and her lectures draw upon her years spent pursuing justice in court. On Feb. 3, Ingram will bring these themes together as she delivers the keynote address for ’DEIS Impact 2016.

This year marks the fifth annual ’DEIS Impact, an 11-day celebration of social justice. The festival, which includes events hosted by clubs, student organizations and community groups, is put on as a collaboration between the Student Union and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. Ingram will be performing “Freedom Underfoot” —about the final year of the Civil War in Atlanta — on Feb. 2 and will give her address, “The Law and the Stage: Platforms for Pursuing Social Justice,” on Feb. 3.

Marci McPhee, the director of campus programs at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, wrote in an email to the Justice that Ingram was a clear choice, as she “embodies what I feel is the spirit of ‘DEIS Impact: starting wherever you are, taking whatever you have, and using that to build social justice in all its dimensions.”

Additionally, McPhee noted that the invitation is decided jointly, due to the collaborative nature of ’DEIS Impact and given that it is a partnership between the Student Union and the Ethics Center. She added that the talk and performance are also part of the Student Support Services Program’s 25th anniversary celebration, and will be co-sponsored by Brandeis Posse and the University’s new interdisciplinary minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation..."

Read full article from The Justice.

LaShawn Simmons '18 breaks down barriers and builds empowerment with poetry
With a CAST program grant, the Posse Scholar made "Ebony Axis," a zine for black women on campus
By Jarret Bencks  |  Oct. 9, 2015


LaShawn Simmons '18
Photo credit: Mike Lovett

During rehearsals of 'for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf,' a play presented by Brandeis Ensemble Theater this past March, LaShawn Simmons '18 began to conceive an idea to keep the collective creative juices flowing.

'I wanted it to be part of a movement,' she said. 'I wanted to continue the care-free black girl vibes. I didn't want it to end with the play.'

Simmons, a Posse Scholar majoring in African and Afro-American studies with a minor in sexuality and queer studies, found that the arts offer disarming ways of open, challenging discussions on issues race and gender, and began to think of other ways to engage people through the arts.

'With art, people can feel more engaged, there aren't those barriers that can get in the way of getting to a deeper conversation,' she said. 'You never know who might be touched by your story.'

Simmons' inspiration led to the founding of Ebony Axis, a poetry zine for black women on campus. The seed for Ebony Axis was planted during the play's production, but the concept was brought to reality through the first round of Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) student grants...."

Read full article from Brandeis NOW.

Arts And Social Justice
Brandeis State of the Arts - Fall 2015 Issue

"Among the many ways that Brandeis enacts its commitment to social justice is through the arts. 'Recognition of the contributions of arts and culture to peace is real and growing,' writes Cindy Cohen, director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts..." Read more and view the full issue.

CAST-Sponsored Ebony Axis Debuts
HootBrandeis Hoot
By Karen Seymour | October 2, 2015

"After performing in 'for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is not enuf' last fall, Lashawn Simmons ’18, a Posse Scholar, decided to create a zine, Ebony Axis, that contained poetry from black women on campus. To celebrate the launch of her publication and its contributors, a coffeehouse was held at Chum’s over the weekend, with students watching the performances from outside because it was so crowded. The party was a showcase of poets, dancers and singers who shared pieces on blackness, womanhood and the intersection of both." Read the full article. Read more about the CAST minor.

Updates from Recipients of Acting Together Small Grants for Course Development in Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict


Meeting held by Walungwa Bitela
Christian with pupils of Makungu
High School.

The Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts provided small grants designed to provide support to five college and university educators as well as trainers of theater practitioners to support the incorporation of the resources of the Acting Together Acting Together Project into their course curricula and workshop sessions.

Acting Together resources were sent to educators and trainers in Canada, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, and the Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota, USA.

Read updates from about how the recipients are using the Acting Together resources.

Events held September 28 through October 8 focused creative attention on the struggle for voting rights

We explored songs and stories surrounding the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1963, and considered actions we can take today in the face of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that, according to the distinguished civil rights leader and now Congressman John Lewis, "put a dagger into the heart" of the law.

Video: Workshop with Jane Wilburn Sapp
September 28, 2:00-5:00pm
Slosberg Music Hall
Workshop with Jane Wilburn Sapp, cultural worker, musician, organizer and educator, adapting and composing songs and spoken word poetry advocating for voting rights today.


Recognizing that 2016 will be the first presidential election in fifty years when all or part of 16 states will not be required to seek federal approval for changes in voter regulations we asked:

  • What can we learn from the songs and the stories of those who participated in struggle for voting rights in Selma in 1965?
  • What strategies are being used to suppress Americans, particularly African Americans, from voting in 2015 and 2016?
  • What can we at Brandeis do to reclaim and strengthen voting rights today?

Read more about the Now As Then event series.