Davis Projects for Peace winners

March 19th, 2015
 Congratulations to our Davis Projects for Peace Award winners! These two students got $10,000 each to implement their projects. We’re very proud of the quality of their applications and their passion to activate social justice both locally and globally.
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The Responsibility to Protect at 10: The Challenge of Protecting the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations

March 2nd, 2015


March 8-9, 2015
Hassenfeld Conference Center – Brandeis University

The Responsibility to Protect principle, adopted by leaders across the globe in 2005, recognizes that the international community has a role to play when sovereign states fail to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. As R2P reaches its ten-year milestone, many questions remain about the principle’s legitimacy, implementation and potential abuse. This conference is designed to bring together leading scholars and global actors to share ideas and experiences about both philosophical and practical aspects of R2P. Thematic sessions will include: “R2P: Ethical Considerations;” “New Actors and Vulnerable Populations;” “The International Arena;” “Implementation of R2P: Practical Challenges;” “
R2P in the Real World” (a double panel with presentations on Kosovo, Somalia, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, and the Central African Republic); and “Justice and Accountability.” The conference will end with a plenary discussion focused on “The Future of R2P and Global Governance.”

For more information, visit http://webtest.brandeis.edu/ethics/internationaljustice/R2P/DetailedSchedule.html

Kaprf and Hahn Peace Prize Winner gives voice to poetry on campus

March 2nd, 2015

Source: The Hoot (link)


By Dana Trismen

Rohan Narayanan ’15 is changing the Brandeis community, one poem at a time. When the 2014-2015 school year began, the senior was already involved in an extensive amount of Brandeis extracurricular activities, including his position as president of Brandeis Television (BTV) and his critical role on TRON, the men’s Ultimate Frisbee team. But over the summer, Narayanan spent most of his time writing spoken-word poetry. He returned to Brandeis with the confidence to perform and the desire to create a safe space for others to express their emotions.

Since August, Narayanan has performed his poetry at many highly public Brandeis venues, including the Mela and Brandeis is Our House events. His spoken-word performances have been met with praise from students, faculty and staff, despite the fact that he admits he does not have any academic knowledge of the art form. “I started writing poetry a little over a year ago, and it just kind of took the form of spoken word … I think because I talk really fast and have a lot of angst and opinions, spoken word is absolutely the right medium for me,” he said in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot this week.

Narayanan is continuing to grow as a poet, and the topics he feels passionate about cover a wide range. “I do write a lot about myself, about identity, specific traumas in my life, struggles with depression and anxiety,” he said. “I also write a lot about systemic bias, issues from racism to gun violence to social strata and stereotypes, and how I really don’t like institutions like schools or the government.”

In a recent poem titled “Mike Brown,” Narayanan labels America as, “A country on its knees, burdened by racist violence.” The piece begins with the following stanzas: “Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll end up like Mike Brown/ I’m not even black and I’m worried I’ll end up face down/ Color is a target, an ardent marksmen/ We see a citizen, but they see a target/ Blood soaked shirt, hurt, shot, gunned down, dead/ Brown skin blood splattered red.”

Other spoken-word pieces are more personal. The poem “One of Us” allows Narayanan to address and struggle with his own atheism. The piece begins: “What if God was one of us?/ Then he’d probably take a wrong step off a crosswalk and get hit by a bus/ He’d mill through the crowd as another faceless citizen/ He’d get a Christmas sweater from his wife of an ugly colored crimson/ God would hate his job, on the corner he’d get robbed/ God would have student loans and there’d be a bunch of cracks on his iPhone.”

For Narayanan, sharing his own work and voice was not enough. He wanted to reach out to others on the Brandeis campus. “The Brandeis arts space is very stunted,” he said. “For a place priding itself on its social justice and commitment to free expression, I found it kind of ridiculous that there really were no places/spaces established on campus to consistently share poetry.” Narayanan is now striving to change that. He recently began hosting monthly events at Chum’s, calling the event Iamb an Artist, or simply Poetry Night.

“Poetry Nights were born from my strong desire to create a safe space and community on campus to share poetry and emotion. So far, the response has been awesome. It really warms my heart that people have gravitated toward such a space. My hope is that people keep coming out, pushing themselves, writing and sharing, and ideally the space continues to exist long after I graduate,” he said. Iamb an Artist takes place the last Thursday of the month from 9 to 11 p.m. in Chum’s, and everyone on the Brandeis campus is invited to attend. “I’m always looking to expand, grow, meet new poets and share that space with anyone and everyone who is willing to buy into the idea and challenges of free expression, strong emotion, and a safe space,” Narayanan added.

Narayanan, who names Saul Williams and George Watsk as his favorite spoken-word poets, truly believes that his work, and the work of others, carries power and momentum. “Spoken word is powerful because when someone writes and performs a poem that really means a lot to them, you can feel it. Emotion is the lifeblood of poetry, and oftentimes, when done and delivered right, it’s impossible to ignore,” Narayanan said. “It’s so important to be able to share issues, emotions and experiences in mediums apart from conversations and articles; just the idea of social justice art or extremely personal poetry is vulnerable and accessible in a way that just reading words or having a conversation isn’t always.”

Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim in Residence

March 2nd, 2015

Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim in Residence

March 2 – 5


Fatu Gayflor, joined by Marie
Nyenabo, Tomah and Tete
on background vocals.
Photo credit: Toni Shapiro-Phim

The CAST minor will host singer/activist Fatu Gayflor and anthropologist/dance scholar Toni Shapiro-Phim, both now living in Philadelphia. Fatu is a renowned Liberian singer who is the founder and the artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, a group that focuses on domestic violence, post-conflict reconciliation and other issues of concern for Liberians in the Philadelphia region. The Chorus is an initiative of the Philadelphia Folklore Project, an arts and social justice organization where Toni serves as Director of Programs. Toni has conducted extensive research on the performing arts of Cambodia, and edited an anthology on dance and human rights across the globe.

Fatu and Toni will be giving five presentations during their time at Brandeis.

View dates, times, locations, and details about their five presentations.

Source: http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/cast/news-events/2015_03_Residence_Gayflor_ShapiroPhim.html