Aerial view of Dickson Hall

2022-2023 Interdisciplinary Groups

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.

American Identities and Cultures Interdisciplinary Study Group

This faculty study group, open to all who are interested, will study the reciprocal relationship, in the past and present, between American identity (what it means to be or become American) and American culture (the works of culture—art, music, literature, film, drama, radio, video, advertising, and more—that we produce and consume).  We will use this exploration both to advance our own scholarship and also to develop innovative curriculum in humanities and humanities-adjacent fields that engages students’ passionate concern for questions of social justice, racial equity, environmental crisis, and other pressing social, political, and moral issues that have risen to the forefront of our national discourse, particularly since the Covid pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the attack on the US Capitol.

Contact: Jonathan Greenberg

Events: Meeting dates and speaker dates are in development and will be announced. Please check back soon.

Related Links:  American Identities and Cultures Minor

Artificial Intelligence and Inequity Group

All facets of our lives, such as social, economic and racial justice, are at stake when scrutinizing the impact of AI in society. This not only fuels legitimate concerns about the benefits of this new technology, but also raises questions in terms of inequity and the relationship between human creativity and artificially-driven art and aesthetics. On the flipside, however, as some have argued, AI has also created a worrisome trend that reinforces white supremacy. As a result, the guiding question collaborators seek to understand consists of exploring means of understanding to what extent AI poses substantial risks in view of achieving a more equitable society and if essential tools exist, which could help stakeholders to generate strategies that help mitigate risks and increase the promising benefits of this new technology. The Departments of Justice Studies, Political Science and Law, Religion, and Theatre and Dance Programs as well as the Research on Interdisciplinary Global Studies faculty group invite you to explore these challenges.

Contact: Alfredo Toro Carnevali and Kathleen Kelley

Events: Event date is in development and will be announced. Please check back soon.

Audio Description Taskforce

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL: Maria Jose Garcia Vizcaino

DESCRIPTION: To continue raising awareness of the importance of accessibility, in particular audio description. What is AD? Audio Description is the translation of images into words in any visual format (movie, performances, paintings, etc.). It has historically mainly been used as a way of providing access to visual content for people who are blind or visually impaired. However, it is also used widely in language translation and, increasingly, in cultural translation with sighted audiences.  We plan to build on the work of the task force last year and put the focus more on the application of AD to the realm of visual arts.

EVENT DATES: Specific dates and times TBA.
March – Conversation in person between scholar Georgina Kleege and artist Emily Gossioux.
April – Screening of Where Memory Ends by Pablo Romero-Fresco followed by Q&A on Audio Description

Autism Interdisciplinary Group


DESCRIPTION: The Autism Interdisciplinary Group (AIG) aims to join together researchers, clinicians, educators, stakeholders, and students across 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, 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 scope of collaboration of the Autism Interdisciplinary Group is to bring together Autism-related efforts across campus, in order to coordinate scholarship and research, programming and services, as well as education and 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.

EVENT DATES: Autism Interdisciplinary Group 2023 Symposium April 28, 2023, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm


Exterminate All the Brutes


DESCRIPTION: The College of Humanities and Social Science Departments of History, Justice Studies, Political Science, and Religion; School of Communication and Media Film Program; and Research on Interdisciplinary Global Studies (RIGS) faculty group will host a discussion of the Peabody Award-winning docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes (2021), from acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro). A self-descibed look at “the origin story of white supremacy” that “pushes the boundaries of contemporary documentary filmmaking,” Peck reframes the Native American genocide, American slavery, and the Holocaust and their fundamental implications for our present. Based on three books— Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate All the Brutes, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past–the four-part series disrupts film conventions by weaving together documentary footage, pop culture music and clips, archival material, as well as animation and interpretive scripted scenes that offer a counter-narrative to white Eurocentric history. Our panel aims to challenge the audience to rethink the very notion of how history is being written, consider the continuing impact of racial hierarchies, land seizure, and the plunder and profit of cultures throughout the world, and evaluate the power and limits of artistic expression.



Human-Animal Relationship in India


DESCRIPTION:  We propose a study of the reasons underlying the emergence of, and, increase in animal welfare efforts and their institutionalization in India. Of particular interest are the ideological–both religious and secular–drivers and the changing nature of the lived experience that are triggering a reconfiguration of human-animal relationships. The sources of unease at the increasingly public and near ubiquitous nature of suffering of animals are varied and cannot be easily captured by the binaries involving egotism and altruism or between reason and emotion. Our holistic analytical approach, combining the emic and etic perspectives, represents a departure from the traditional anthropological and sociological studies that view human-animal relationship in India through a lens of livelihoods and conflict arising out of state-centered top-down conservation efforts or the caste dynamics related to purity and pollution. In a rapidly globalizing society, and with the rise of an aspirational middle class, the ideological boundaries are highly permeable and inspirations varied. Any analysis of the ideological underpinnings will have to be intersectional in view of the dynamic, contingent and often trans-national nature of ideological formations that drive individual behavior and collective trends related to perceptions, attitudes, and practices pertaining to animals. The multifaceted human-animal relationships, in other words, are mediated by a host of technological, economic and cultural processes that constantly challenge and destabilize simplistic assumptions rooted both in tradition and modernity.

Interdisciplinary Arts Collaboration


DESCRIPTION: Our initiative is a collaboration involving the English Department, University Galleries and the Cali School of Music. We are planning a “salon” series at the Segal, open to the public, bringing together three arts – poetry, visual art, and music – threaded together by a shared theme, a theme that keeps changing with each new installment. The event will create a rich, dynamic conversation between 3 guest performers and provide an opportunity for the audience to interact with them as well as each other. This is the promise of each salon: a powerful aesthetic experience coupled with engaging conversation. Our pilot event will be inspired by the theme of “Martial Arts” – allowing for a very interactive experience.

EVENT DATES: April 13, 2023

LINKS: Forthcoming from University Galleries.

Language Reclamation Community Partnership


DESCRIPTION: Like many languages of Eastern North America, Munsee, Unami, and the Lunaape varieties claimed by New Jersey’s tribal communities have no fluent speakers today. Forced assimilation and linguistic genocide via boarding schools—as well as ongoing environmental racism and displacement—have cost descendents sovereignty over their languages, lands, and  cultural knowledge. Against these odds, Ramapough Lunaape, Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, and Powhatan Renape leaders and teachers have been working for decades to recover, retain, document, and teach their languages to new generations. Our interdisciplinary group seeks to strengthen partnerships with NJ’s tribal communities to (a) materially and intellectually support the rebirth of Munsee and Lunaape languages and (b) build skills among Montclair State faculty and students for contributing to language reclamation work. AY22-23 represents a continuing phase of interdisciplinary collaboration for our group, which stewards the brand new NAIS Minor and puts community-responsive engagement at the heart of our efforts! This year, through new curriculum, student field trips, and speaker events, we highlight language reclamation within larger movements for Indigenous justice and invite reclamation scholars and tribal leaders to guide next steps in supporting full sovereignty and vibrancy for New Jersey’s original peoples.


Completed: Learning trip to the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm (Newton, NJ, Oct. 1-2, 2022).  Students and faculty met with Ramapough Lunaape Turtle Clan Chief Vincent Mann, Clan Mother Michaeline Picaro, and Munsee language teacher Nikole Pecore. They tended plants, harvested vegetables, and prepared boxes for distribution to the Turtle Clan community in Ringwood, NJ. They also prepped and painted wooden field signs in Munsee, under Ms. Pecore’s direction.

March 22, 2023 (10:45am-1:15pm, room TBA): The Meaning of the Seed. Documentary screening and discussion on food and cultural sovereignty with Ramapough Lunaape Turtle Clan leaders (TBD) and filmmaker Anita Bakshi, Ph.D. (Rutgers).

March/April (date and time TBD): We Still Live Here. Discussion with filmmaker Anne Makepeace, who directed a documentary about language rebirth among Wômpanâak of Cape Cod.

May 2023 (date and time TBD): Student presentations and conversations with tribal community members about language reclamation.


Legislative Breakfast Addressing Human Trafficking

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL:  Ali Boak, Director Global Center on Human Trafficking

DESCRIPTION: Addressing Human Trafficking in New Jersey–Policy and Practice

The Global Center on Human Trafficking (GCHT)
at Montclair State University will convene a legislative breakfast entitled Addressing Human Trafficking in New Jersey: Policy and Practice” in honor of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  The breakfast will be held on February 3, 2023 and will be free and open to the public. The goals of the breakfast include raising awareness and understanding of the issue of human trafficking and fostering collaboration across New Jersey on the development of legislation and policies to address human trafficking.The event is co-sponsored by the following departments and programs at Montclair State University–Pre-Law Program, the Department of Political Science and Law, the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy, and the Justice Studies Department.  In addition, the event is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NJCAHT), Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ), Volunteer Lawyers of New Jersey (VLNJ) and Covenant House-NJ.

EVENT DATES:  February 3, 2022

MEMS: Montclair Medieval and Early Modern Studies Seminar


DESCRIPTION: MEMS is an annual speaker series co-convened by the Departments of Classics and General Humanities, English, History, Philosophy, Religion and the Medical Humanities, Spanish and Latino Studies, and World Languages and Cultures. The breadth of the conveners’ research interests and networks provides MEMS with an unusually strong interdisciplinary basis for inquiry across the medieval and early modern periods (roughly the 8th to the 17th centuries), opening up new perspectives on authors, artists, and works in various national and trans-national contexts. Our series consists of speakers from our geographic region, and, thanks to zoom, from further afield; we also draw on our MSU colleagues in an effort to strengthen our interdepartmental relationships. All are welcome to our talks, whether members of the MSU community or the broader public, whether medievalists, early modernists or neither. Our website displays our past speakers; upcoming speakers include Dr. Pamela Patton (Director of the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton U), and Dr. Adam Rzepka (English, MSU). Please come—cookies and refreshments are provided, thanks to this initiative.

EVENT DATES:  Oct.26, 2022; Nov. 10, 2022; Feb. 22, 2023; others tba


Oral History Project


DESCRIPTION:  As a newer Hispanic-Serving Institution in northern New Jersey, Montclair State University is the educational home to a unique cross-section of Latinx and Hispanic heritage communities. Our interdisciplinary project seeks to use this important asset to bridge the university-community divide by connecting students with Latinx communities in proximity to the university. With a unique opportunity to document, understand, and engage with northern New Jersey’s Spanish-speaking and Spanish language heritage groups, this interdisciplinary group will lead an oral history initiative centered on Spanish-language heritage students and the Hispanic community, and migration narratives. The centering of Spanish-heritage student and community oral histories supports our vision of a more inclusive, connected, HSI-informed campus.Participating faculty and students from three departments housed in two colleges, working in different capacities, will collect oral histories with Spanish-heritage students and community members. In the interviews, we aim to elicit themes of identity and culture, linguistic experiences for heritage speakers, migration, sociocultural changes, and community enrichment. The oral histories will be recorded and edited to form part of a digital archive focused on the Latino community, specifically heritage Spanish speakers. The materials will be housed on a website dedicated to preserving and sharing the oral histories of the Hispanic members of the MSU community. These pedagogical and digital spaces provide a crucial foundation for strengthening CHSS’s relationship with Latinx students and communities.



Russia's Invasion of Ukraine, Religion and Belonging

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL: Jeff Gatrall and Kate E. Temoney

DESCRIPTION: On September 17, 2022, a Washington Post “visual investigation” by Joshua Carroll and Leila Barghouty appeared on their website titled: Meet Saint Javelin, Ukraine’s million-dollar meme. The meme is an illustration of one of the many religious dynamics at play in the war in Ukraine and the resonance of religious imagery and identity. The scholarship of Dr. Catherine Wanner is able to shed light on the meme phenomenon and much more, as her scholarship addresses how the religious landscape in Ukraine has changed dramatically since the Russian invasion—changes that promise ripple effects throughout the region well into the future.  The primary topic of the grant proposal and claim of Wanner’s work is: Religion is a powerful undercurrent in the war in Ukraine and beyond because it plays a key role in defining relatedness. Although religion has been weaponized and securitized to protect state sovereignty, these efforts must contend with widespread vernacular religious practices that also inform relatedness and belonging and with a multitude of minority religious groups, who have mobilized their extensive transnational networks to aid in the war effort.



Voices on Contemporary Antisemitism

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL: Kate E. Temoney and Laura Quiros

DESCRIPTION: Coordinated by the Departments of Religion, Social Work, and Educational Foundations; Research on Interdisciplinary Global Studies (faculty group); and Hillel (student group), this panel is a response to the current need for interdisciplinary collaborations to address social injustices—specifically, antisemitism–the targeted attacks against Jewish people fueled by myths and stereotypes, is one of the oldest forms of prejudice and oppression and is on the rise throughout the world. Despite this surge in attacks in both physical and virtual spaces—physically perpetrated by white nationalists, expressed by the wider population on social media, and further proliferated by pandemic conspiracy theories—this topic is often not well understood and under-discussed in university settings. A response to antisemitism requires collective action and collaboration between and among interdisciplinary academic and non-academic professional settings, university student spaces, and the general public. The panel is also grounded in intersectionality and solidarity, who will share their own identities and name intersectionality—meaning one’s multiple identities that intersect in ways that are both privileged and oppressed. We will begin with a general history of antisemitism, discuss the reasons why discussions about antisemitism are difficult, and conclude with tools to address antisemitic beliefs and actions in university and non-university settings.



Water in Nature and the Anthropic World: Its Management, Cultural Expression and Sustainable Usage between Past and Present

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL: Deborah Chatr Aryamontri

DESCRIPTION: This two-day, hybrid interdisciplinary event will explore the ways in which people from different time periods and geographic areas of the world have faced issues in the harnessing, control, and usage of water as well as how this indispensable resource has shaped those cultures. The conference, the second of the ‘Bridging the Gap’ series, will bring together national and international professionals and scholars who will discuss water as a socio-cultural phenomenon; human impacts on water environment and soil and weathering processes in the exploitation of water; and sustainable urban and regional planning, public health, environmental management and population prediction in connection with water supply and usage.In line with last year’s successful hybrid conference, the organizing committee, composed of Deborah Chatr Aryamontri and Timothy Renner (both in the Dept. of Classics & General Humanities), Dawn Hayes (Dept. of History), Peter Siegel (Dept. of Anthropology), Greg Pope and Danlin Yu (both in the Dept. of Earth & Environmental Studies), wants to promote and foster awareness of the interdisciplinary effort needed in the investigation, preservation, and daily management of such a vital resource.

EVENT DATES: April 27-28, 2023; Location: Schmitt Hall Room 327 and on zoom.
RSVP here
View Conference Program here. 

We Are More Than Our Stories - Human Trafficking Survivor Leadership in the Anti-Trafficking World

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL: Daniela Peterka-Benton

DESCRIPTION: During Human Trafficking Month (January 2023) the Global Center on Human Trafficking with support of the Department of Justice Studies and the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy, will present a pop-up exhibition to raise awareness about the crime of human trafficking and the people it affects. For this campaign, titled “IN-SIGHT – Human Trafficking Around the Globe”, survivor stories will be highlighted to provide insights about the various forms of exploitation people around the globe may experience. One of the most significant changes over the past two decades in the anti-trafficking world is the introduction of survivor leadership.Through survivor engagement organizations can better serve individuals, design programs, identify challenges and opportunities, and achieve agency missions and mandates.The culminating event for the pop-up exhibition will take place Thursday February 2nd from 4:15-5:30 in form of a roundtable discussion “We Are More Than Our Stories – Human Trafficking Survivor Leadership in the Anti-Trafficking World”. Participants in our roundtable include human trafficking survivor leaders, who will share their insights into the roles they have taken on to fight human trafficking. We also welcoming Dr. Laura Quiros from the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy to the roundtable to speak about the importance of a trauma-informed approach when working with survivors of Human Trafficking.

EVENT DATES: Thursday February 2nd, 2023 from 4:15-5:30 @ Cohen Lounge (178 Dickson Hall); this is a hybrid event and will be shared on Zoom as well; details to follow

Working Group on Reproductive Justice

CONTACT PERSON & EMAIL: Francesca Laguardia, Monica Taylor

DESCRIPTION: The challenges of reproductive justice are inherently interdisciplinary.  While the primary concern of reproductive justice is how to erase disparities in access to and quality of medical care (replaced: treatment) for all, potential solutions require the incorporation of diverse ways of thinking about and addressing rhetorical strategies; institutional constraints in the political sphere and the medical sphere; medical knowledge and biases; medical education at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels; fundamental enactments of misogyny, heteronormativity, and sexism; social, cultural, and political activism to produce shifts in cultural assumptions; access to comprehensive sex education; and legal strategies, precedents, and opportunities. Correspondingly, this project brings together students and faculty from across three separate colleges at MSU, including faculty from Public Health, Justice Studies, GSWS, Writing Studies, Medical Humanities, Religion, Teaching and Learning, and Educational Foundations to engage in a range of activities, including courses, campus panels and activities, research, advocacy, and introductions to advocacy for students across the University.


Class visit from Professor David Cohen, author of Rethinking Strategy After Dobbs (75 Stanford L. Rev. Online) to discuss state strategies to protect access to abortion: April 20, 2022.

Screening of Aftershock Panel featuring representatives from Planned Parenthood and other advocacy organizations expected early April date TBA.