Public Humanities Initiative

  • Kevin Coval, Poet, Author and Organizer
  • Nate Marshall, Poet and Rapper
  • Angel Nafis, Poet
  • Morgan Parker, Poet
  • Messiah Ramkissoon, Poet, Emcee, and Youth Activist

An evening of justice poetry featuring the editors and contributor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop. Poets read from their new and published works related to issues of justice and discuss the events and experiences that inspired them. Poet and activist Messiah Ramkissoon will open the event with a poem dedicated to the memory of Kalief Browder, and Columbia Adjuct Professor Morgan Parker with close the evening with a poetry selection. During the discussion period, the poets will be joined in conversation with the widely acclaimed rapper Pharoahe Monch.

The Confined Arts: Art Exhibition and Conference

Thursday, December 3, 2015 - Saturday, December 5, 2015

This 3rd edition of The Confined Arts will be a 40-day art exhibition launched at an opening weekend consisting of art, poetry, motivational speaking, panel discussions, a promotional screening, hands-on workshops, and more.

Teaching Contemporary Civilization in Prison

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
  • Josh Dubler, Assistant Professor of Religion, University of Rochester

Joshua Dubler is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Rochester and served as a post-doctoral fellow with the Society of Fellows in the Humanities from 2008-2011. Joshua earned his PhD in Religion from Princeton University. His dissertation was an ethnographic study of the chapel at Graterford Prison, which he turned into a book Down in the Chapel (FSG, 2013).

CRY HAVOC: One-person Play

Thursday, November 12, 2015
  • Stephan Wolfert, Actor/Writer/Director

Cry Havoc is a one-person play, written and performed by Stephan Wolfert and directed by Eric Tucker, that unites veterans and non-veterans and explores the difficulties that our veterans and their families face. After overcoming two years of paralysis and six years in the Army, while battling PTSD, Stephan Wolfert met William Shakespeare on a train. Twenty years later, using Shakespeare’s timeless words, actor/veteran Stephan Wolfert rides that train again. This time, leading the audience on an interactive journey through Shakespeare & his veterans. 

Race and New Media

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Race and New Media" is a panel discussion of identity and new digital publishing formats. It features academics (Minh-Ha T. Pham of Pratt University and Susan E. McGregor of Columbia) and editors of online magazines (Lisa Lucas of Guernica and Ayesha Siddiqi of the New Inquiry). The panelists will be speaking about their own experience building careers online as well as their sense of the way race works in the new media landscape.

“Restaging the Harlem Renaissance: New Views on the Performing Arts in Black Manhattan” is a two-day interdisciplinary symposium at Columbia University on Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 27, 2015. Morningside Opera, Harlem Opera Theater, and The Harlem Chamber Players will collaborate on a concert performance of the 1914 opera, Voodoo, by composer-librettist H. Lawrence Freeman. On the occasion of this rare performance of a work by a major, if nearly forgotten, figure, we are convening a two-day interdisciplinary conference on African-American performing arts to accompany an array of events related to the revival, including a talkback with performers, and an exhibit of Freeman’s papers in Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  

  • Emily Hainze, PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature , Columbia University

How do we teach the history of imprisonment in the United States when mass incarceration continues to shape our current social landscape?  Heyman Center Public Humanities Fellow Emily Hainze will speak about a curriculum project she is developing in partnership with the Prison Public Memory Project, a non-profit dedicated to recovering, preserving and interpreting the historical artifacts and cultural memory of prisons, and the communities with which they are entwined.  The talk will focus on the process of bringing archival material from the Hudson Training School for Girls (a juvenile prison facility that existed in Hudson, NY from 1904-1975) into a classroom setting.

  • Glenn E. Martin, Criminal Justice Reform Advocate
  • Thenjiwe McHarris, Human Rights at Home Campaign Director, US Human Rights Network
  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Executive Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Director, Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind
  • Alondra Nelson, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Columbia University

The Center for Justice at Columbia presents Race and Justice: Past, Present and Future. This roundtable examines the history of race-based injustices in America, how those practices have informed the criminal justice system today, and what implications they have for the future. The roundtable features Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad; historian, author and media commentator who is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and Glenn E. Martin, a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate and founder of JustLeadershipUSA. They are joined by Columbia Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, and Human Rights at Home Campaign Director, Thenjiwe McHarris. The roundtable is moderated by Columbia Dean of Social Science and Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Alondra Nelson.


By Semester