Our Work

Multidisciplinary Discussions on Violence

creatureOn April 27, 2017 we held a multidisciplinary lecture series on the topic of Violence, where each speaker from different fields talked about how their research was relevant to Violence.  The speakers and the titles of their presentations were:
Lauren Bernard (Graduate Student in Musicology): “Sounds of Violence: Music in Times of War”.

Raul Arturo Ramos (Graduate Student in Neuroscience): “[Numbed]: An Open Discussion on Violent Media and Human Behavior”.

Rajesh Sampath, PhD (Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Justice, Rights, and Social Change): “Twenty-First Century Theses on Violence”.

One of our objectives is to create an internal publication that holds the mixture and intersection of different disciplines and research at Brandeis.  The first chapter, on Violence, is here:

Chapter 1 Violence  (click on link to see a pdf file)

Towards the end of October 2017, we will hold a final meeting on ‘Violence’, where with the audience, we will brainstorm  ideas that weave together these three presentations.  Our objective is to give birth to novel ideas that grow from the unique multidisciplinary intellectual mixture of Brandeis.

Multidisciplinary Podcast Competition

This July, we won a AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) podcast challenge on the topic of Human Rights and Science.  The podcast took a multidisciplinary approach, interviewing: Jan Srajer a Czechoslovakian refugee; Nikhil Krishnaswamy, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of computational linguistics; Andreas Teuber,  an associate professor of philosophy; Maria Genco, PhD ’17, and Mikael Garabedian, a graduate student in biology.  Read more about it (and listen to it) here:

http://www.brandeis.edu/now/2017/july/rights-information-podcast.html

Deisortium runs events and promotes conversations across disciplines both at Brandeis University and beyond.

Ideation group

On February 4, 2017 we had our first kickoff event, “Talking Social Justice Across Disciplines,” as part of the 2017 DeisImpact Festival. 17 attendees both from within and beyond Brandeis joined us with backgrounds in anthropology, biology/neuroscience, computer science, journalism, law, physics, and South Asian studies.

Our event focused on using design thinking tools such as Ideation to facilitate brainstorming and conversation across our varied fields of expertise. We focused on actions centered around making science accessible to the larger community.  This included furthering collaborations between siloed academics within Brandeis, as well as making connections with people in the larger Waltham community.

Below are reflections from one of our Ideation breakout groups, that centered on how to support conversation between activists and academics:

Our group noticed two patterns in the concerns that emerged from our initial discussions: one cluster of issues that pertain to activists, and one pertaining to academics.  However, as the two groups overlap frequently, we often find ourselves on either side of the equation—either as activists seeking to be better informed academically about the topics of our concern, or as academics seeking to make our colleagues more activist.

As specialists, how might we present the complexities of our disciplines to an eager, activist audience, in a way that both engages viscerally but doesn’t oversimplify the question?  Talk turned to the “memefication” of media and the way that art can be used as a way to bridge divergent publics, by presenting complex concepts in a way that’s emotionally stimulating rather than appearing dry and “out of the league” of a lay audience.  With this comes the peril of memes being either misunderstood or actively used to promote falsehood, and so to answer the social justice questions raised at the beginning of the session, we ended up crystallizing around another question: can we create art in general or “memes” that are factual and still engaging?  What role do academics play in maintaining the factuality of the meme or art throughout its life cycle in the public eye?

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