News | Events


Film Festival: Documenting the Immigrant Experience

Tuesday, May 2, 3:00-5:00pm
Wasserman Cinematheque at Brandeis University

film festPlease join the students in CAST 170a: Documenting the Immigrant Experience for a film festival featuring their work on Tuesday, May 2, from 3-5 p.m. in the Wasserman Cinematheque. Throughout the semester, students in CAST 170a have interviewed immigrants attending Waltham High School to record their stories of immigration. The resulting documentaries uplift their voices and shine light on the lives of immigrant families in Waltham. Through the festival, the humanity of all participants will become more visible. This event is free and open to the public! Please direct any questions to Sarah Terrazano.

View past events archive


To view additional resources and opportunities related to the nexus of arts and peacebuilding, please visit News from the Field and Peacebuilding and the Arts NOW e-Newsletter, offerings of Brandeis' program in Peacebuilding and the Arts.

The 2017 Brenda Meehan Social Justice-in-Action Grants

Application Deadline: February 10, 2017

The Social Justice & Social Policy (SJSP) program is pleased to announce a new grant opportunity for Brandeis University undergraduate students. These grants are designed to provide support for student-organized events that bring together academic and activist perspectives on important current public policy issues, such as: healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform, and climate change. These Brenda Meehan Social Justice-in-Action Grants will provide up to $1,500 to support events planned for the Spring 2017 semester. Applications will be accepted until February 10 and recipients will be notified soon after. Read more about the grant applications criteria and apply.

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

Application Deadline: November 29, 2016

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 and apply.

Professor Cynthia Cohen Solves the World's Problems with Creativity

hootThe 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.


2016 CAST Annual Report

This past year has been very productive for both the minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation and the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts. On campus, through the CAST class and events, many different perspectives on the arts and social transformation were brought into conversation. Beyond Brandeis, several research projects, publication opportunities and outreach initiatives have raised the profile of the discipline of peacebuilding and the arts and extended the international network of scholars in the field. View the 2016 CAST Annual Report.

2016 CAST Design Lab Reports and Student Albums

Design Lab Reports:

Students in Brandeis’ Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation minor participated, along with Brandeis faculty and staff, and area artists, peacebuilding practitioners, activists and officials in four design labs organized to strengthen our understanding of the contributions of arts and culture to violence prevention, and the challenges that such organizations face. The labs focused on:

Student Albums, CAST 150b:

Students also created small albums documenting Boston area arts-based and cultural organizations addressing the underlying causes and manifestations of violence:

2016 Summer Internship: Whitney Museum of American Art

New York City
Application Deadline: February 1
The 2016 Summer Intern Program begins June 6th and continues through August 5th. The Hiatt Center encourages students should log into the Brandeis B.hired website for more detailed information and to apply. The director of the Whitney Museum is a Brandeis graduate.

Internship Opportunity - MUS 92b: The Embodiment of Voice: Internship in Process, Production & Performance

The Division of Creative Arts seeks 6-12 interns to collaborate with Brandeis Creative Arts Award recipient and artist-in-residence Tony Arnold, soprano, on a campus-wide, multi-disciplinary performance and installation that will be presented on Saturday, April 16, 2016, as well as an interactive presentation of John Cage’s Song Books at the Shapiro Campus Center on Thursday, March 3, 2016. Materials for this project will be compiled from pieces produced during Tony’s visits to creative arts classes throughout the spring semester, as well as through original works derived by the interns.

This is a great opportunity for students to be a part of a groundbreaking program, and to get hands-on creative, curatorial, administrative, performance, and producing experience. Interns will meet every week with Tony Arnold and/or course assistant Victoria Cheah to workshop, plan, and discuss the March and April projects from the conceptual stage through implementation.

Read more about the opportunity. Interested candidates must interview in order to be accepted for participation in this course. Interviews with Tony Arnold (and Victoria Cheah) will take place on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. If absolutely necessary, other times may be scheduled at the discretion of instructor. Please email both Tony Arnold and Victoria Cheah to indicate your interest. Please include a CV or resume in your email to and

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
Brandeis NOW  |  By Jarret Bencks  |  Oct. 9, 2015


Photo/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.

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.

2015 CAST Annual Report

Annual ReportThis report outlines the activities of the Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) minor in the 2014-2015 academic year. The first sections describe the development of the minor; the support staff; the recruitment efforts; and the opportunities CAST provided faculty and students in its first year. The next section describes the inaugural Introduction to CAST course, covering the assignments and general activities of the class. The final section provides information about the first ever CAST graduates and how they were formally recognized.

None of the events and opportunities listed in this report would be possible without the generous gift from Elaine Reuben ‘63 and, through Naomi Sinnreich P '13, the Max and Sunny Howard Memorial Foundation. This support allowed CAST the flexibility to promote creative projects as well as host conversations and events that invited affiliated students and faculty into an interdisciplinary community of inquiry. We also express deep gratitude to both Naomi Sinnreich and Elaine Reuben for their vision and support. View the  2015 CAST Annual Report.

CAST Design Labs

One of the major projects undertaken by students in the Introduction to Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation course at Brandeis University this past year involved work on design labs. The design labs took form as processes for bringing together various constituencies related to a problem, issue or possibility to think in creative ways and to design structures, processes, or expressions that lead to a more just, peaceful, resilient, and vibrant communities.

Students assisted 4 established organizations with projects whose goals necessitated creative mechanisms. Each student group researched and compiled documents to send to design lab participants prior to the workshops. Some students acted as rapporteurs during the design labs and compiled final reports on the labs’ outcomes. The four resulting reports are below:

Learn more about CAST and view CAST Annual Report.

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

CASTgrantsStudents enrolled in CAST 150b, and students who had previously completed the similar Arts of Building Peace course, were eligible to submit proposals in April for CAST-related projects that would take place over the summer. Of 20 eligible students, 4 submitted applications, and 3 were selected to receive the award and subsequent funding. Recipients were chosen by a subset of the CAST student committee. Read about the student grant recipients and their projects.

Performance in Introduction to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation course, CAST 150b
MBThe Caribbean Collaboration

Marcelo, CAST student, performed in the piece with Eric, Usdan Student Center employee at Brandeis University. The collaboration was part of a project for the Introduction to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation course, CAST 150b.

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

Application Deadline: April 1

In the 2014-2015 academic year, the CAST minor 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.

Remarks by Paul Smith, Director of British Council, USA at Reception Honoring Liberian Singer Fatu Gaylor & CAST Supporter Naomi Sinnreich

Part of Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim in Residencesmith
March 2 - 5, 2015

From exile to performance, activist Gayflor inspires hope


On Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim's Residency
Brandeis 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.

Rehearsing Change: Brandeis and CAST student participating in study abroad in Ecuador

The pilot semester of the Pachaysana Institute's Rehearsing Change program is underway in Ecuador. The program is a unique hybrid in which students split time between Quito with the Nina Shunku Association, an urban arts center that works in marginalized communities, and the Amazon community of Mariscal Sucre, where the program partners with community itself. The program courses include Theatre for Social Change and Innovation, Storytelling: Language and Movement, and Identity and Place. 

A Brandeis student and CAST minor Bronte Velez, who is currently participating in the program said, “I have been thinking a lot about how to say, ‘Yo creo’ in Spanish, which could mean ‘I create’ or ‘I believe’. The idea that to believe is to create and to create is to believe. It is incredibly exciting to manifest that which I believe in, into real space and time … into pacha.”  The program's fourth course, Design and Evaluation of Sustainable Community Projects, starts in late February. 

Applications are now open for the Fall 2015 program in Quito. (Fall semesters will take place in Quito and Spring semesters in rural Amazon communities.) Early admission is March 15th and regular admission (if spots are still available) is April 15th. Read more about application requirements and how to apply.


Rehearsing change students (top) and mural (bottom) by Auka, 2014,
"Iguales con diferentes historiAs"/"Equal with different stoRies."
Photos courtesy of Rehearsing Change.

Faculty Grants Awarded: CAST Program Grants Support Innovative Work at Brandeis

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.

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. 

American Theatre Magazine Features CAST, Peacebuilding and the Arts

"Change By Degrees: Can theatre for social change be taught? Here’s a roundup of theatre-studies programs where arts activism is on the syllabus."
By Lonnie Firestone

Article: "New minor brings social purpose to the arts"


The Hoot, Oct. 16, 2014

Article: “A New Minor in Arts and Social Change”

SoAby Dr. Cynthia Cohen, Director, Program in Peacebuilding and the ArtsInternational Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life

Brandeis University State of the Arts Magazine, Fall 2014 Issue