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ISI seminars run for a year, and are organized around specific themes. Fellows alternate in leading the discussion, pursuing a particular project in which they are interested. Though the theme is common to all, Fellows inevitably approach it from their own points of view and disciplinary perspectives. The result is an interdisciplinary exchange which provides intellectual stimulation and furthers the individual and collaborative work of all concerned. The basis for discussion may be a formal or informal presentation; a set of readings (or images, or music); a piece of writing or work of art composed by the presenter(s); or some combination. The ethos is democratic and interactive, allowing for free-flowing discussion and stimulation.

Below you will find a description of our current seminar, as well as a list of the Fellows and their projects.

Call for Applications 2013-2014: Emancipation

As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, it is appropriate that the ISI turns to the theme of ‘Emancipation’ for its 2013-2014 seminar. Yet in keeping with our traditions, we wish to explore the topic in broad, interdisciplinary, and multidirectional terms. The concept has been closely connected with notions of democracy, universal human rights, social and economic justice, gender and sexual equality, and the freedom from any constraint that might inhibit our capacity for self-determination. For the ISI seminar on emancipation, we would like to invite participants to explore issues and conceptions of human autonomy and freedom as inspired by your own interests, whether they be from historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological, anthropological, scientific, or cross-cultural angles. All fellows will receive a $1500 research allowance. Proposals for our year-long seminar should be sent by email to isi@umass.edu by Friday, March 1st, 2013. Learn more.

ISI Seminar 2012-2013:
Engagement: The Challenge of Public Scholarship

In its inaugural year the newly established Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) takes up the legacy of W.E. B. Du Bois for its first seminar entitled ‘Engagement: The Challenge of Public Scholarship’. Following in Du Bois’s footsteps, we’d like to consider what public engagement means to us today, in whatever fields we explore, whether in the humanities, arts, social sciences, or natural sciences. What does it mean to be an engaged scholar or artist? What lines do we cross over—or open up—when we transfer our spheres of learning and dissemination from the academic to the public? What examples do great public intellectuals and artists give us, what problems have they had to confront?


Jane Anderson


Whitney Battle-Baptiste


Nicholas Bromell


Elizabeth Chilton


Jane Degenhardt


Ernest Garcia


Laura Lovett


Joya Misra


Rommel Salvador

Isenberg School of Management

Steven Tracy

Afro-American Studies

Angie Willey

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies