Notes from the Director

Greetings from Brandeis and a snowy New England!

Last fall was filled with comings and goings. We were visited at Brandeis by Daniel Bryan of the Pachaysana Institute in Ecuador, who works on sustainable development initiatives with communities in the Amazon, incorporating approaches of Theatre of the Oppressed;  Margaret Namulyunga, a playwright from Uganda who is working on the dissemination of Acting Together resources with ReCAST Inc.; Narumol Thammapruksa (Kop), a theatre artist from Thailand with experience throughout Southeast Asia, currently working towards her PhD in Peace Studies;  Nilanjana Premaratna, an artist/peacebuilder/journalist from Sri Lanka, currently working in Australia towards a PhD  focusing on theatre and peacebuilding in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal; Kitche Magak, of Western Kenya and Acting Together fame, who spent a couple of days developing a proposal for a peacebuilding/arts network in East Africa.


I enjoyed ten beautiful days in October at Blue Mountain Center, working with Jane and Hubert Sapp on “A Way Out of No Way,” a documentation of Jane’s cultural work practice. We developed material around the theme of ‘resilience’ which we later presented in my class; she and I will offer a version of the same performance/presentation in Vancouver in May. In addition, I briefly visited Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, exploring the theme of “Synergy: Women, Creativity and Peacebuilding” (please read a revision of my paper) and alsoVirginia Tech, where I engaged in planning sessions on ways to improve documentation of cultural work practice. Read a blog post by Jamie Haft about the Virginia Tech gathering.


At Brandeis, students in my Arts of Building Peace class joined me in planning a series of events for the university’s upcoming ‘DEIS Impact: Festival of Social Justice. The events will feature an exhibition of photographic portraits of social justice leaders, and a song-writing workshop and performance/presentation by Jane Sapp.


Please note that the International Peace Research Association secretariat has extended the deadline for applications until February 15th for proposals for the August 10 – 14, 2014 bi-annual conference, in Istanbul. Please consider submitting a proposal for the Arts and Peace Commission!

All the best,


Cynthia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Director

Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts

P.S. We'd like to hear from you!! Please take a short survey about our newsletter — or send your thoughts about my notes on feminist epistemology, aesthetic ways of knowing and peace building  — or both!

What's Happening

Seeking Lives of Purpose: Images, Songs and Stories that Challenge and Inspire, Feb. 1-10

The “Seeking Lives of Purpose” events series will feature cultural worker Jane Wilburn Sapp and photojournalist Don West as part of ‘DEIS Impact 2014, the weeklong "Festival of Social Justice" at Brandeis University occuring February 1 through 10. Read full descriptions of the four events in this seriesRead more about our project with Jane Wilburn Sapp: "A Way Out of No Way."

Award-Nominated Book Review by Jean Randich 

Join us in congratulating Jean Randich for being a finalist for consideration in the Los Angeles Press Club's 6th Annual National Entertainment Journalism Awards for her review of the first volume of the Acting Together anthology

A Review of the Acting Together Documentary by Shoshana Zeldner

Shoshana Zeldner, MA '12, wrote a review of the Acting Together documentary, that was featured by the Compathos FoundationRead her review. The Compathos Foundation is a media production, education and research organization harnessing the power of the arts and media to inspire transformation, global citizenry and social action. 

Read more News and Events.


Featured Student Papers

Left: Kolkata Sanved performers. Photo credit: Sydney Skov. Right: Rozi Levi '13 in Diversity – "What it Means to be Jewish." Photo credit: Michael Elfman '14.


Sharing Stories of the Brandeis Undergraduate Community: Looking at the Integration of a Diverse Student Body Through the Lenses of Unscientific Analysis and Theatrical Performance, by Alia Goldfarb, ‘13

(Senior Honors Thesis, BA in Peace, Confl
ict and Coexistence Studies & Theatre Arts, Brandeis University)

This paper and theatrical piece explore various narratives and misconceptions about the other within the Brandeis undergraduate community. They explore the complex social and cultural diversity within the community and aim to raise awareness, begin new dialogue and move towards policy changes at the university… Read the full paper.

When Dance Saves Lives: The Kolkata Sanved Approach to Moving Against Human Trafficking

by Sydney Skov

(Case Study Paper, Arts of Building Peace – PAX 250, Brandeis University)

Skov reflects on personal experiences teaching and working with young dancers and survivors while volunteering at Kolkata Sanved, an NGO in Kolkata, India, which uses Dance Movement Therapy as rehabilitation for survivors of human trafficking and violence to empower and inspire social change in culturally relevant and trauma sensitive ways. Read the full paper.

View more in our Resource Library.

Jana Sanskriti actors in performance. Photos provided courtesy of Jana Sanskriti.

Theatre for Peacebuilding in South Asia

South Asia is vibrant in its colours, cultures, conflicts as well as in its arts and activism. The initiatives noted here are a few examples from theatre artists working for peacebuilding in the region, finding their own ways of using theatre to address the ongoing issues. For more information on the work at the nexus of art and peacebuilding in South Asia, please visit our News from the Field page. Our gratitude to Nilanjana Premaratna for her collaboration in compiling these initiatives and resources. Learn more about Nila.

Jana Sanskriti Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed 

Jana Sanskriti is an Indian theatre group based in West Bengal that uses political theatre to address issues of structural injustices and power inequalities. Gender discrimination, labour exploitation and political and institutional corruption are recurrent themes in these plays. Read more and access links to videos and written reflections about the group.

Jana Karaliya

Jana Karaliya is a multiethnic, bilingual mobile theatre group from Sri Lanka that lives and travels together for most of the year. With its multiethnic, bilingual cast that originates from various regions of the country, Jana Karaliya models coexistence and voices issues of social justice at the heart of Sri Lankan society.  Read more about the organzation, read an analysis of the group’s work, and  view their YouTube channel.

Ajoka Theatre

Based in Kabul, Ajoka uses theatre for social change, contributing to the struggle for creating a democratic, just and a secular Pakistan. Through its productions, the group challenges the notions of extremism, intolerance and discrimination. Ajoka is noted for its collaboration with Indian artists and for organising Indo-Pakistani theatre festivals for peace. Read more about Ajoka.


Sarwanam calls for the establishment of democratic values and human rights in Nepal. The group has been active through the various political transitions in the country since early 1980s, performs in their own box theatre in Kathmandu, emphasises mime and uses minimal props in an effort to produce low-cost theatre that is easily accessible across Nepal. Read more and watch a video of a play by Sarwanam.


National Forum Theatre Gathering: Nepal

ZFD peace facilitator Anne Dirnstorfer organized 100 Nepali forum theatre artists in March 2014 at the Kachahari Camp to explore various methods of using theatre for conflict transformation. A documentary produced as an output of the workshop discusses the workshop process and the ways in which participants engaged with their personal experiences of conflict through theatre.  Read more and view the documentary

Read the full blurbs about these organizations. 

Millennial and Intergenerational Approaches to Peacebuilding and the Arts

Give & Take, North Minneapolis. Photo credit: Zoe Prinds-Flash.

Works Progress and Give & Take

Works Progress is an artist-led public art & design studio based in Minneapolis, Minnesota founded by millennials Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson that creates artistic platforms for people to engage, connect, converse and create with/in their neighborhoods and communities, across creative and culture boundaries. One of their current projects is Give & Take, an interactive open platform event series that asks attendees to share knowledge via presentations, hands-on activities, and socially-focused games, sparking conversation and building relationships across disciplines and social silos. Read more.

Video: "How making art is a practice space for becoming a change agent” by Risë Wilson, Founder of the Laundrymat Project 

Risë Wilson founded the Laundrymat Project, which brings art, artists, and arts programming into laundromats and other everyday spaces in New York, thus amplifying the creativity that already exists within communities to build community networks, solve problems, and enhance their sense of ownership in the places where they live, work, and grow. Watch the video and read the Laundrymat Project blog.

Invention & Creativity Through the Arts (ICTA)

Invention & Creativity Through the Arts (ICTA) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization in Trinidad whose objective is to create a healthy living in communities by using public art to foster intergenerational collaboration, following the concept that “it takes a village to raise a child.” ICTA was internationally recognized by UNESCO as a ‘Caribbean Best Practice in Arts Education.’ Read more.

Art & Social Change: InterPlay for Millennial Leaders

“Art & Social Change: InterPlay for Millennial Leaders” is a 12-day training for artists and activists age 18 to 32. It provides participants with creative tools and techniques used around the world in peacemaking, prisons, classrooms, theaters, homes, places of worship, and health care, in order to builds artistic skill, leadership ability, and ultimately strong communities. Their fifth annual program will occur July 21 through Aug 1, 2014. Learn more and watch a reflection video made by the 2013 class. 

The Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC)

The Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) builds vibrant communities through programs focused on Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) arts and culture that foster intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogue, cultural identity, collaborations, and social justice. The Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project, a current OACC project, aims to preserve the cultural and historical legacy of Oakland’s Chinatown through intergenerational dialogue.

Read full blurbs about these organizations on our News from the Field webpage.

Resources and Opportunities

Contest: “My Music MasterPeace” 

MasterPeace in Concert, Istanbul

Submission deadline: February 28, 2014

“My Music MasterPeace” is a global music competition hosted by   MasterPeace  inviting all musicians of all genres from all over the world to become the opening act of MasterPeace in Concert in Istanbul on September 21, 2014, the UN International Day of Peace. World leaders and musicians such as Desmond Tutu, Angelique Kidjo, Emmanuel Jal and others will be participating. Submissions accepted until February 28, 2014. View the poster and learn more.

Extended Deadline –

Call For Papers: 25th IPRA General Conference 

August 10-14, 2014, Istanbul, Turkey

Extended submission deadline: February 15, 2014

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) has extended the deadline for submissions for its 25th General Conference. Read more about the call for papers and apply using the online submission tool. If you have difficulty with the online application, download an application form.

Call for Papers:

Women and Conflict Essay Prize 

The Naval War College Award for Research issued a call for papers on a topic related to women and conflict outcomes, which is designed to encourage outstanding new research that advances understanding of the roles of women during conflict and in conflict prevention and conflict resolution. Submissions are due April 15, 2014. Read more

New Book Release: "The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement, and Neuroscience" 

Edited by Michelle LeBaron, Carrie MacLeod, and Andrew Floyer Acland

Neuroscience is proving what dancers have known for centuries. This book explores the role of movement in conflict dynamics, expose the limitations of omitting the body from understandings of conflict, explore ethical dimensions of embodied approaches, and propose key strategies for conflict intervention. Purchase via or download the order form


HowlRound designs and develops online knowledge platforms and in-person gatherings that promote access, participation, organizational collaboration, field-wide research, and new teaching practices to illuminate the commons-based approach to theater practice. Their knowledge platforms include : anonline journal; a livestreaming TV network; a New Play Mapplaywright residenciesConvenings & Symposia; and The Weekly Howl.

Master of Arts in Applied Theatre Arts, USC School of Dramatic Arts

Application Deadline: February 21, 2014

The Master of Arts in Applied Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California (USC) invites community-based artists, educators, therapists, social workers and political activists to explore how theatre can be applied to a non-traditional theatrical setting through a rigorous three-semester course of study. Students will culminate their experience in an overseas immersion experience. 

The Graduate Programs in Coexistence and Conflict 

Heller School for Social Policy and Management 

The Graduate Programs in Coexistence and Conflict (COEX) focus on the challenges posed by intercommunal and societal conflicts in today's world. Since its inception in 2004, the COEX program has become a top choice for professionals who want to better prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts. Students can choose among five degree options to gain expertise in a wide range of practical areas. Read application guidelines and learn more

Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century 

The Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) publishes and disseminates "Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century," a magazine that shares stories of people, communities, and organizations that are transforming the face of peace and security around the world. Read more and view the latest issue.

New Fulbright Fellowship: National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

Application deadline: February 28, 5:00pm Eastern Time 

Fellows participating in the new Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship will utilize a variety of digital storytelling tools and undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced across borders. Read more.

Read about more Resources and Opportunities in the field.