Cynthia Cohen

Visiting Scholar




International Center for Ethics, Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies


Brandeis University, Boston MA

Geographic Location

United States
Cynthia Cohen

Cynthia Cohen is Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, and Acting Director of the Ethics Center for the 2016-17 academic year.

She leads action/reflection research projects, and writes and teaches about work at the nexus of the arts, culture, justice and peace. She directed the Brandeis University/Theatre Without Borders collaboration Acting Together, co-edited the Acting Together on the World Stage anthology and co-created the related documentary and toolkit. She directs ReCAST, Inc., a non-profit organization partnering with Brandeis and New Village Press on the dissemination of Acting Together resources.

Cohen has written extensively on the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of peacebuilding, including the chapters “Creative Approaches to Reconciliation” and “Engaging with the Arts to Promote Coexistence,” and an online book “Working With Integrity: A Guidebook for Peacebuilders Asking Ethical Questions.”

Cohen previously directed the international fellowship program Recasting Reconciliation through Culture and the Arts, which produced an anthology by that name. (Available at the virtual resource center.) She teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Cohen was the founding director of the Oral History Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has facilitated coexistence efforts involving participants from the Middle East, the United States, Central America, and Sri Lanka.

She holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, Dr. Cohen has worked as a dialogue facilitator with communities in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Central America and the United States. Prior to her tenure at Brandeis, she directed a community-based, anti-racist oral history center in the Boston area.

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Michelle LeBaron – International Research Roundtables – 2012

Breathing Life into the Ashes: Resilience, Arts and Social Transformation
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Michelle LeBaron, Faculty of Law, UBC; Dr. Cynthia Cohen, Brandeis University International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, United States.
Breathing Life into the Ashes: Resilience, Arts and Social Transformation is a roundtable to be convened by the Peter Wall Institute at UBC, Vancouver from October 21 to 27, 2012. It is an exciting opportunity to bring into generative and lively collaboration an intercultural, international group of practitioners and scholars positioned to advance the work of Social Transformation and Arts with the following three purposes: to explore and deepen experience and understandings of individual and collective resilience; to develop an infrastructure to strengthen the resilience and the legitimacy of the field of Social Transformation and the Arts; and to advance understanding of assessment and evaluation in Social Transformation/Arts fields.
Together, participants will examine how social transformation through the arts fosters positive social change in settings around the world. The roundtable will include performances highlighting arts-based work as a response to systemic and other violence that powerfully illustrates the potency of Social Transformation through the Arts. It will provide a forum for planning ways to advance this work and strengthen existing networks.