Aerial Photo of Dickson Hall

2021-2022 Interdisciplinary Group Initiative Results

CHSS Interdisciplinary Groups are designed to promote a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration that encourage the advancement of interdisciplinary methodologies, pedagogies, research, and collaboration. The Dean’s Office is supporting these faculty groups as part of the CHSS Initiatives program, an effort to support a stronger research environment, increased opportunities to enhance student success, and a deeper sense of community and collaboration in the College and between the College and the larger community.

The results below are collaborative efforts of roughly 80 faculty and staff members and involve CHSS, CEHS, CSAM, CART, SBUS and various others units from all over the university. The projects vary dramatically – workshops, retreats, speakers’ series, educational and programmatic innovation, task forces — a real burst of creative and highly interdisciplinary ventures.

Accessible Media Task Force

Montclair State offers a wide range of thriving academic and cultural activities that cannot be enjoyed by students, faculty and staff with visual or hearing impairments. Universal access is necessary not only for our academic curriculum and classes, but for the rich variety of cultural offerings that happen on campus daily. This accessibility not only will improve learning outcomes, but also it will help to empower both people with and without disabilities making it possible to create a truly inclusive participatory experience for all. Unfortunately, this lack of access is not only present on campus, but in our town, state and country. The goal of this Task Force is to implement a culture of inclusiveness and access to all, first, on campus and then, in the Montclair/NJ community. Since Montclair Sate is a Hispanic serving institution and Spanish language is the mother tongue of many of our prospective and current students, this Task Force will be providing services in both languages to serve the Latino community that represents more than 50% of statewide population.

Contact: María José García-Vizcaíno, Spanish and Latino Studies

Africa’s Transformation Journey – Exploring Its Opportunities and Challenges Panel

This hybrid event is a collaboration among MSU’s Research on Interdisciplinary Global Studies (RIGS) faculty network members from the Feliciano School of Business (Management) and College of Humanities and Socials Sciences (Political Science & Law, Religion, and World Languages & Cultures). Featuring three Africa policy experts, the panel will debate the shadow cast by political instability, governance, and political inclusion on Africa’s significant potential to be the next growth continent given that Africa has the largest youth cohort with women and entrepreneurship enabling growth and changing economic prospects for families. Panelists will engage issues of institutional change, including educational and cultural changes, that can unleash African development. Issues will include: language, the inclusion of women in opportunities, change and democracy in Africa, governance mechanisms, political stability, and security. Panelists include:

  • Andrea Walther-Puri, M.A., The Fletcher School, Tufts University, African policy and security expert
  • Simeon O. Ilesanmi, Ph.D. and J.D., Wingate Professor of Religion at Wake Forest University, human rights, ethics of war, and religion, law and politics in Africa
  • Zemenay Lakew, M.A., senior administrative roles with United Nations agencies focused on African development and governance

Contact: Ethne Swartz, Management and Elizabeth Emery, World Languages and Cultures

Event Details: Late March 2022, Check RIGS Events for updates

Autism Interdisciplinary Group

The Autism Interdisciplinary Group aims to join together researchers, clinicians, stakeholders, and students at Montclair State University (MSU) and in the community. Approximately 1 in 44 children in the United States is diagnosed each year with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In New Jersey, the number is higher, with 1 in 34 children diagnosed, highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to address the complex needs and bolster the inclusion of autistic individuals. In the world of autism care and research, interdisciplinary collaboration is the best practice. To that end, the Autism Interdisciplinary Group aims to bring together Autism-related efforts across MSU campus, in order to coordinate 1) collaborative research, 2) programming and services, 3) education, and 4) outreach efforts to improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum and their families. Our hope is that these efforts will augment the impact of the work on the autism community and the field.

Contact: Erin Kang, Psychology

Bridging The Gap Between Past and Present: Fostering A Sustainable, Global Approach to Cultural Heritage in Diverse Communities

Bridging The Gap Between Past and Present: Fostering A Sustainable, Global Approach to Cultural Heritage in Diverse Communities is a hybrid conference at Montclair State University. This two-day, interdisciplinary event is aimed at exploring how cultural heritage studies can bring practitioners from different backgrounds and geographical regions–in this case, the Caribbean, North America, and the Mediterranean–to investigate and preserve the architectural, spatial, and artistic heritage of different and diverse communities through conventional methods as well as the incorporation of advanced technologies.

Event Details: April 28 & 29, in person and via Zoom. Learn More

Cognitive Science and Coffee

CogSci & Coffee (CSC) is a place to experience the mind from a multidisciplinary perspective. Experts from psychology, linguistics, philosophy, English, and beyond explain––and answer your questions about––cutting-edge work on mentality.

Though led by experts, CSC is for everyone. No special background knowledge is assumed. No preparation is required. And, as the name suggests, coffee (and light snacks) are provided. Whether you’re an expert, merely curious, or just in need of coffee, CSC welcomes you.

CSC meets the first Monday of every month* @ 4pm in the Cohen Lounge, Dickson Hall.

*Due to Spring Break, CSC will meet on the second Monday of March.

Contact: Lauren Covey, Linguistics and Jon Morgan, Philosophy

Event Details: CSC meets the first Monday of every month* @ 4pm in the Cohen Lounge, Dickson Hall.

Comprehensive Campus Response to Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a $150 Billion a year enterprise and college campuses are home to many vulnerable populations targeted by traffickers including  young people away from home for the first time; First generation students; International students; Students with disabilities; LGBTQ students; and Students studying abroad. In response, The Global Center on Human Trafficking will convene a two-day round table meeting entitled “Building a Coordinated, Comprehensive Response to Human Trafficking at Montclair State University,” bringing together 13 multi-disciplinary partners from across MSU.   The meeting has 4 goals:

  1. To better understand how human trafficking impacts the MSU community.
  2. To gain buy-in and commitment from key stakeholders across MSU for participation in a Working Group to lead the development of a MSU response to human trafficking and to assist the GCHT in the development of a tool-kit.
  3. To identify critical Working Group Members both internally at MSU and externally in the community.
  4. To inform plan for data collection on human trafficking at MSU. Expected outcomes include the formation of a permanent Campus Response to Trafficking (CRT) Working Group and production of a report detailing a blueprint for preventing, identifying, and serving victims of human trafficking at MSU.

Contact: Ali Boak, Director, Global Center on Human Trafficking

Event Details: February 17 and 24, 2022

Development Of URHS 101 (Introduction to Urban Humanities) Course

This interdisciplinary group of CHSS and other Monclair State faculty will develop a guide for the teaching of the introductory course to the College’s new Urban Humanities Program, URHS 101 (Introduction to Urban Humanities) by May 2022. This group will work to draw on numerous perspectives from inside and outside of the College, including from community partners, in order to ensure that this key course is interdisciplinary and engaged from its inception. The group will meet monthly starting in February 2022.

Contact: Julian Brash, Anthropology

Digital Humanities Group Project

Our Interdisciplinary Grant will support the convening of an interdisciplinary group, drawn from colleagues in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Science and Mathematics, Sprague Library as well as a recruiter from Infosys to plan and propose a dynamic new interdisciplinary undergraduate major in Digital Humanities and a graduate certificate in Digital Public Humanities.

Digital Humanities is not only a rapidly growing field but an increasingly important one as it is through the models and tools developed within it that we mitigate and comprehend our ever-digitizing professional, civic, leisure, and inter-personal lives.  Learning outside the constraints of traditional disciplinary boundaries via the two proposed programs, students will be furnished with perspectives and skills of high value to a wide range of careers as well as of service to the public good.  The Digital Public Humanities graduate certificate will be an important further professional credential offered beyond the foundational Digital Humanities undergraduate program.  Partnering with a tech industry recruiter, we will ensure a high level of immediately transferable skills in the curricula of the two programs thus substantially improving the hiring prospects of future graduates.

Contact: Victoria T. Larson and Senta German

Engaging The MSU Community In Exploring The Connections Between Language, Disability Studies, and Youth Development by Highlighting Related Career Paths

Montclair State students often express strong interests in the topics of linguistics and cultural diversity, language development, disability activism and addressing educational inequities, but may face challenges identifying the variety of career paths to turn these interests into concrete career opportunities. The purpose of this group is 1) to support faculty in exploring timely topics related to language, disability studies, and youth development, 2) to demonstrate to students how these topics are interrelated and can manifest themselves in a variety of career pathways and 3) to propose innovative curricular and extracurricular programming for students by focusing on the synergy among these areas. A key outcome of this interdisciplinary group will be a speaker series featuring a variety of panel presentations showing how students and alumni have leveraged their passions in these areas into fulfilling majors and careers.

Contact: Lesley Sylvan, Assistant Professor Communication Sciences and Disorders

Upcoming Events:

  • Panel #1: Feb 16, noon,
  • Panel #2: March 15, 4 PM,
  • Panel #3: April 4,  6 PM
Interdisciplinary Food Access Work Group

The core questions guiding our interdisciplinary group include:

  • “What motivates students’ food choices?”
  • “How satisfied are students with their food options? What barriers exist to accessing their desired/necessary dietary needs?”
  • “Are the dietary needs of individuals or groups of individuals consistently overlooked? What effect does this have on students?”
  • “What changes, if any, would students like to see in the food available on campus in terms of affordability, variety, and environmental/ethical attributes (e.g., Fair Trade, locally-sourced food, etc)?”

During Spring 2022, we will be running student focus groups to attempt to better understand students needs and motivations around food. More details to follow; however, if you are interested in providing your thoughts within one of our focus groups please email Dr. Shannon O’Connor. Compensation will be provided for participation.

Contact: Shannon O’Connor, Psychology

Language Revitalization Professional Development Workshop Series

A deep record of creative and scholarly work shows that language is central to Native American and Indigenous lifeways. Indeed, elders, teachers, activists, and community members worldwide find unique ways to reclaim and sustain ancestral languages and oral traditions. This interdisciplinary group will organize a professional development workshop series and invite community and language consultants to share best practices for sustainable programming and community engagement in language revitalization. This effort builds from ongoing collaborations between CHSS faculty and Native American leaders in the region and will inform curriculum and outreach connected to Montclair State’s brand new minor in Native American & Indigenous Studies (NAIS). By focusing on language diversity and revitalization at both global and local scales–and learning from seasoned experts in these areas–our group aims to build the university’s capacity for student involvement in ethical community partnerships and cutting-edge coursework. We see these as first steps toward an exciting future at Montclair State where Indigenous scholars will lead the way in Indigenous language instruction, community building, and research!

Contact: Maisa Taha

Upcoming Events:

Medieval And Early Modern Seminar (MEMS)

Montclair State’s interdisciplinary Medieval and Early Modern Studies Seminar (MEMS) brings together interested faculty and graduate students to hear about and discuss new research in medieval and early modern studies by prominent scholars from across its convening disciplines. We place special emphasis on work at the leading edge of inquiry and methodology, and on interdisciplinary projects. The seminar is co-convened by the Departments of Classics and General Humanities, English, History, Philosophy, Religion, Spanish and Latino Studies, and World Languages and Cultures. All are warmly welcome to attend.

EVENT DATES: Twice a semester, usually on Wednesdays from 4-5:30pm. Spring 2022 speakers and dates TBA. Please visit the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Seminar website for dates.

Montclair Public Forum

Montclair Public Forum is a series of public-facing roundtable discussions which address pressing issues that confront us today. The Forum brings together faculty working in diverse disciplines at MSU with leaders from the non-academic community. The main goal of MPF is not simply to inform, but to help demystify a specific issue by addressing public misconceptions, clarifying different positions and reflecting on the complexity of a problem or debate. Most importantly, we hope to both expand and sharpen our understanding of a specific issue and its surrounding context by inviting a variety of standpoints by different stakeholders. Our goal is that audience members, invited guests, and the organizers leave with a wider perspective on a given issue and a stronger sense of what is at stake.

Contact: Meghan Robison, Philosophy and Ben Nienass, Political Science and Law

Event Details:

NAIS Program Team (Native American and Indigenous Studies)

We are organizing two NAIS Roundtables for Spring 2022 as we prepare to launch a Native American and Indigenous Studies Minor this coming fall. The first Roundtable will focus on curriculum development as we host five Indigenous NAIS scholars to share their pedagogical expertise. The second Roundtable will focus on strategies for grounding our program in Community Engagement with local tribes. Our guests will include Montclair State students and faculty, Indigenous graduate students from local universities, and local tribal leaders.

Contact: Mark Clatterbuck, Religion; Elspeth Martini, History; Chris Matthews, Anthropology

Oral History Initiative Team

This interdisciplinary project encompasses an oral history initiative centered on Spanish-language heritage students and migration narratives. We propose to train faculty and students in a day-long oral history workshop. Participating faculty will lead their classes to collect oral histories with Spanish-heritage students and community members. We will establish a public digital archive of oral histories to showcase and share. In the interviews, we aim to elicit themes of identity and culture, linguistic experiences for heritage speakers, migration, sociocultural changes, and community enrichment. The centering of Spanish-heritage student and community oral histories supports our vision of a more inclusive, connected, HSI-informed campus. These pedagogical and digital spaces provide a crucial foundation for strengthening our College’s relationship with Latinx students and communities.

Our approach involves three distinct steps:

  1. Preparation and training
  2. The collecting of interviews
  3. Piloting a campus digital archive of these oral histories.

The oral histories will be recorded and edited to form part of a digital archive focused on the Latino community, specifically heritage Spanish speakers. These materials will be housed on a website dedicated to preserving and sharing the oral histories of the Hispanic members of the MSU community.

Contact Person: Raul Galoppe

RIGS Retreat

Research on Interdisciplinary Global Studies (RIGS) is a faculty-driven initiative that is a fluid network of scholars based at Montclair State University that provides:

  • Opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations, research support, and resource sharing
  • Highlights the global interconnectedness and impact of faculty scholarship
  • Showcases the University’s expertise and engagement through scholarly achievements, research, events, and activities

The retreat is an opportunity for the 43 members of RIGS to (1) recharge, (2) collaborate with other members who identify with any or all of the four thematic research collaboratives—a Human Rights, Conflict, and Migration; Development, Health, and Environment; Science, Technology, and Innovation; and Culture, Gender, and Social Change—and (3) identify future directions for how RIGS can support faculty research and development.

RIGS Members RetreatFriday, April 29, 2022, 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Contact: Kate E. Temoney, Religion and Tim Gorman, Sociology

RIGS Poetry/Teaching Learning Poetry of Witness

This virtual event is a collaboration between MSU’s Research on Interdisciplinary Global Studies (RIGS) faculty network members from the College of Humanities and Social Science Departments of English, Religion, and Sociology and the College of Education and Human Services Department of Teaching and Learning. The event explores artistic forms of memory preservation of human rights abuses and social injustices by hosting a guest lecture/poetry reading by contemporary Poet of Witness, Javier Zamora. Born in El Salvador, Zamora is the author of a collection of poems combining Spanish and English titled, Unaccompanied, crosses El Salvador and Mexico as families are lost and reunited, coyotes lead migrants astray, and his nine-year-old recollections fuse with myth.

“Poetry of Witness,” coined by Carolyn Forché, captures how art forms document experiences of, and investigations into, political upheaval and violence and contends that “we are accustomed to rather easy categories: we distinguish between ‘personal’ and ‘political’ poems…The distinction…gives the political realm too much and too little scope; at the same time, it renders the personal too important and not important enough.”

Contact: Kate E. Temoney, Religion and Mayida Zaal, Teaching and Learning

Event Details: Early April 2022, Check RIGS Events for updates

Text, Power, Telling: A Writing Workshop for Sexual Trauma Survivors

Those of us who have experienced sexual trauma have endured events that cannot be characterized or described; there is only “before” and “after.” Collectively, we grieve this nameless loss, yet labels attributed to our plight, such as “victim” or “survivor,” can mislead and create a false narrative used by those we trust with our stories, and ourselves, to understand what has happened. With the support of Counseling Services (CAPS), this workshop will provide the opportunity for those who have experienced sexual trauma to use writing to reframe their narratives and create a healing text. Viewing the text as a living body, as the place we hide, participants will be given the opportunity to anonymously work in text with an honest engagement of their experiences, however those experiences manifest for them. In this way, the text can free us from labels–perhaps there is no simple narrative arc, perhaps there are gaps in memory–in the creation of a new genre that challenges specific roles and instead allow us to safely gain power over the telling of our experiences.

Contact: Jacqueline Regan, Dept. of Writing Studies and Jessica Restaino, Dept. of Writing Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Event Details:

  • February 3, 2022 at Marquette University
  • April 13, 2022  at 5:30 p.m., Student Workshop at Montclair State
  • April 20, 2022 at 5:30 p.m., Faculty and Staff Workshop at Montclair State
Training MSU Students to Answer the Call to Public Leadership: Interdisciplinary Case Studies in Public Policy

The central guiding question for this project is “How can faculty participating in the new Policy Studies major encourage hands-on interdisciplinary policy analysis by our students?” The focus of the project will be to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty in Policy Studies (primarily within CHSS, but also across the University) to create exciting, relevant, attention-getting, opportunities to practice public leadership skills through public policy analysis.

Contact: Brigid Callahan Harrison, Interim Chair and Professor, Department of Political Science and Law

Event Details: The Interdisciplinary Case Studies Group met on 12/9/2021 to begin the planning process for a speaker series and collaboration between faculty teaching courses that address common policy issues in the Spring semester. The group will reconvene on Thursday, January 27  from 2-4 pm (in person on campus and via Zoom (please register). Speakers will be open to the public and dates will be announced in late January.