Ingrid Schorr speaks to 2022 CAST Graduates

"While the arts can be a source of intense pleasure, engaging in the arts can also bring us to a state of full awareness that may even become wide-awakeness. When we awaken the creative mind, we are capable of crossing borders, of inciting action, of making discoveries. We can envision the world as it should be. " Ingrid Schorr, Director of Brandeis Engagemetn spoke to the 2022 CAST Graduates. Read her welcome remarks.

Capstones 2022

May 5, 2022

Congratulations to our CAST minors who completed their capstone projects, presented at the CAST Graduation Ceremony 2022!

wire tree
Kobi Russell: Tree of Hope - an art installation exploring a culture of sustainability. The Tree of Hope asks anyone who approaches it to consider both the incredible beauty of Trees and all of the necessary resources that they provide––as a reminder that every living being is worth protecting! The installation was the first destination of the Culture of Sustainability Walking Tour which was offered on campus between May 1-4 as a part of the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts.

Watch the making of the Tree of Hope

a woman performing


Ella Deters:  a performance piece My Story isn't of Hope … Yet - an artistic articulation of the pain and suffering felt by the loved ones of those experiencing schizophrenia and a call for de-stigmatization of mental illness so that care is given before it is too late. (Song: Tamarack Pines by George Winston). 

Jaime Black in a red dress in the forest in the snow

Photo Credit: Jaime Black

Jaime Black | between us

November 9, 2021- February 25, 2022
Kniznick Gallery

Curated by CAST Chair Dr. Toni Shapiro-Phim

Water. Stone. Twigs. Bodies. The color red. These elements appear throughout Jaime Black’s exhibition, between us, honoring the interdependence between humankind and the natural and spiritual worlds. The artist, of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish descent, focuses special attention on Indigenous women’s potency in all these realms as nurturers, as trust-builders, as knowledge-holders and knowledge-givers.

The photographs, video and poems on display tell stories alongside empty red dresses, which hang facing the four cardinal directions, dresses that, with their absence of bodies, allude to the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who have been missing or murdered across North America. Elsewhere on campus, clusters of such dresses will appear, a re-creation of Black’s renowned REDress Project, reminding us of the gendered and racialized violence experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. These dresses, along with Black's other work in the exhibition, ask us to consider ways to confront such injustice, while celebrating beauty, and reverencing women as the weavers of, as Black says, “the threads that bind and sustain us.”

Students in CAST 150b: Introduction to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation have collaborated with Jaime Black, situating and contextualizing red dresses in specific campus locations.

Brandeis University is located on territories originally inhabited and stewarded by Indigenous Nipmuc, Pawtucket, and Massachusetts peoples.

Learn more about the exhibit, events, artists, and the REDress Project at Brandeis.

book cover
Life in Plastic: Artistic Responses to Petromodernity

November 8, 2021

Life in Plastic: Artistic Responses to Petromodernity  will be available in print in November 2021. The book was edited by Caren Irr, CAST Affiliate and Professor of English. From the publisher: "With impressive breadth and compelling urgency, the essays in Life in Plastic examine the arts and literature of the plastic age. Focusing on post-1960s North America, the collection spans a wide variety of genres, revealing the place of plastic in reshaping how we perceive, relate to, represent, and reimagine bodies, senses, environment, scale, mortality, and collective well-being." 

women dancing in a field and being filmed

Photo: Kathleen Norton/Philadelphia Folklore Project

Toni Shapiro-Phim Delivers Inaugural Presentation for INSPIRE Seminar

September 15, 2021

CAST Chair and Associate Professor Toni Shapiro-Phim, along with Liberian singer and anti-violence activist Fatu Gayflor, delivered the inaugural presentation for the Peace Research Institute of Oslo's INSPIRE seminar series on September 15. They spoke about their documentary film, Because of the War

crowd of people holding lights, photographed from overhead

Cambodian Pchum Ben ceremony of reconciliation with the dead. Photo by Ly Daravuth.

NEW COURSE on Conflict Transformation and Sustainable Development

June 18, 2021

Announcing a new CAST course, CAST 180a Creative Approaches to Conflict Transformation and Sustainable Development, taught by CAST co-founder and Director of Peacebuilding and the Arts Cynthia Cohen. Students will join a global community of inquiry in an exploration of how and why artistic and cultural initiatives are aligned with the demands of complex contemporary challenges. In the fall of 2021, the course will focus on unresolved legacies of violence and oppression, and on sustainability, especially in relation to the climate crisis. Students will explore key concepts, review case studies, and collaboratively design new initiatives and advocate for them with policy-makers and funders. The course will be taught virtually, facilitating engagement with researchers from across the globe. Learn more about the course.

Jane Sapp speaking on Zoom

May 7, 2021

"We have to flood this injustice with so much justice." -Songwriter and activist Jane Sapp, to the 2021 graduates of the CAST Minor. Watch Sapp's talk and performance.

flyer that says Connecting for Creative Change!
Capstones 2021

April 29, 2021

Congratulations to our CAST minors who completed their capstone projects, presented at "Connecting for Creative Change" on 4/29/21.

Addressing microaggressions, stigmas of mental health issues, isolation, histories of loss and displacement and more through music, poetry, podcasts, conversations and other kinds of creativity, students shared how they are taking innovative steps to make the world a more caring, safe and beautiful place for us all.

woman playing violinProjects:

April Ginns: Whose Voices Are Being Heard in the Indie Electronic Scene?

Aviva Davis: The 20%: Honoring Jews of Color and Their Creations

Joanna Marcus: Journeys Through Art

Leah Sagan-Sworsky: Music Collabs

Sophie Brill WeitzSophie Brill Weitz: Marking Lives Lived with Stumbling Stones
Listen to the podcast Sophie created, an edited collection of interviews that Sophie conducted with her grandfather, mother and other relatives related to the family’s wish to have stolpersteine (stumbling stones) placed at the last voluntary residence, before the Holocaust, of her grandfather and his family in Belgrade, Serbia. (Stolpersteine are commemorative brass plaques placed in the pavement in front of the last known residence of choice of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.) What does it mean to remember, and to be remembered, Sophie and her family ask.

The event was part of the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, April 25-May 1. 

graphic of sticker with hands raised holding microphone, paint brush, script, and pencil

Jennifer Podhorzer's co-winning sticker design.

New CAST Sticker Design!

April 23, 2021

Jennifer and Lauren Podhorzer (both '24) created the winning designs for our new CAST sticker. Ideas were proposed during a UDR-hosted sticker design contest. The Podhorzers' stickers made the grade and were distributed at Social Deis-tance DIY on April 23, 2021, a UDR event at which participants decorated clipboards and designed pins with social justice themes.

Attend future CAST events to collect more stickers!

Camila Cano sitting at a table
Camila Cano ’23 Helps Create CAST 125a: Confronting Gender-Based Violence

February 16, 2021

Camila Cano ’23 not only serves as CAST co-chair Toni Shapiro-Phim's TA for CAST 125a: Confronting Gender-Based Violence, but she helped create the course. Read more.

Mandel Center for the Humanities Working Group on Fighting Anti-Blackness in Our Curricular, Research, and Creative Spaces

January 25, 2021

Organized by: The interdisciplinary minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST), Tom King and Toni Shapiro-Phim, co-chairs.

This ongoing and interdisciplinary MCH Working Group aims to create a space for (1) uncovering and fighting anti-Blackness in our institutional, scholarly, creative, and curricular frameworks and practices; (2) facilitating our development as artists, researchers, educators, community-engaged practitioners, and administrators; and (3) following the leadership of our colleagues working in such areas as DEI research and implementation, Black and African American studies, and critical race studies and supporting, promoting, and celebrating their work at Brandeis. The MCH Working Group welcomes participation by all faculty, administrative staff, and graduate students at Brandeis who (1) understand creativity, broadly defined, as a key component of their practice, research methodology, or object of study; (2) commit to centering the voices and knowledge of those whose lives have been rendered most precarious by anti-Blackness; and (3) commit to the process of learning together in community and to the principles for engagement established at our first meeting(s).

For more information, please contact Tom King ( or Toni Shapiro-Phim (

Toni Shapiro-Phim
Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence

January 5, 2021

The newly published Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence: Imagination, Empathy and Resilience (Eds. Eve M. Zucker and Laura McGrew) includes a chapter by CAST co-chair Toni Shapiro-Phim. The book demonstrates how imagination, empathy, and resilience contribute to the processes of social repair after ethnic and political violence. Adding to the literature on transitional justice, peacebuilding, and the anthropology of violence and social repair, the authors show how these conceptual pathways — imagination, empathy and resilience — enhance recovery, coexistence, and sustainable peace. Read more about the book.

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