Program Team

Cynthia Cohen
Cynthia Cohen, PhD (USA)*

Cynthia E. Cohen is director of the Peacebuilding Program and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University, and director of IMPACT — Imagining Together: Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation. At Brandeis, she initiated an undergraduate minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation. Cindy has written extensively on the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of conflict transformation, including the chapters "Engaging with the Arts to Promote Coexistence" and "Creative Approaches to Reconciliation." She co-edited and co-authored "Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict," a two-volume anthology accompanied by a documentary film and a toolkit of educational and training materials. She holds a PhD in education from the University of New Hampshire, a master's in urban studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University.

Toni Shapiro-Phim
Toni Shapiro-Phim, PhD (USA)*

Toni Shapiro-Phim serves as associate professor of Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation and assistant director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University.

Toni received a PhD in cultural anthropology from Cornell University. Her dissertation, books and other publications focus on the history and cultural context of the arts in relation to violence, migration, conflict transformation and gender concerns. She's held teaching and research appointments at the University of California-Berkeley, Yale University and Bryn Mawr College, and worked in Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese refugee camps in Indonesia and Thailand. She's also conducted years of ethnographic research in Cambodia.

Co-editor of "Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion," and co-author of "Talking Dance: Stories from the South China Sea," she has also contributed to "Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide," "The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement, and Neuroscience" and "Reflections in the Aftermath of Mass Violence," among other publications. Her documentary film, "Because of the War," about four women — mothers, refugees, immigrants, survivors of Liberia's civil wars, and superstar recording artists — was awarded the 2018 Elli Kongas Maranda Prize from the American Folklore Society for outstanding work on women's traditional, vernacular  and local culture and/or work on feminist theory and folklore.

Immediately before moving to Brandeis, Toni was director of programs at the Philadelphia Folklore Project where she conducted ethnographic research, curated exhibitions and produced performances, humanities forums and publications highlighting aspects of the cultural practices of Philadelphia's diverse communities, all in collaboration with artists and community groups working for equity and justice.

Armine Avetisyan
Armine Avetisyan (Armenia/Turkey)

Armine Avetisyan is a peacebuilding practitioner focusing on creative approaches in transforming conflicts. She has been involved in building trust and creating platforms for diverse groups from Armenia and Turkey, including local communities, artists, non-profits, local authorities and others to work together for building more just and peaceful societies. She co-directed the documentary "Haven't We Shared Much Salt and Bread?" where conflict transformation, food, gender perspective on building peace intersect. Armine holds an MA degree in conflict resolution and coexistence from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and another MA degree in cultural management from Istanbul Bilgi University (Turkey).