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"Alternatives for Sustainable Growth and Human Capital”

November 8, 2016

The Cultural Agents Initiative Director, Professor Doris Sommer, was been at Dominican Republic in the "XVI Annual Meeting IDB Group Civil Society” leading the Forum "Alternatives for Sustainable Growth and Human Capital”

Visit the forum web site at:

We invite to check out the forum at:


"Music as a Catalyst for Change"

Cultural Diplomacy Panel at Berklee College of Music in Boston

November 1, 2016

Last Tuesday November 1st, Prof. Doris Sommer, Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative, participated in a panel on Cultural Diplomacy at Berklee College of Music in Boston. This event, organized and guided by mezzo soprano and cultural entrepreneur Carla Dirlikov, also included the participation of the following world-class experts and leaders in the arts: Courtenay Casey, Director of Artistic Planning at National Sawdust; Manuel Bagorro, Artistic Director of the Harare International Festival of the Arts; and David Rothkopf, CEO at the Foreign Policy Group.
As part of the weeklong series on Music as a Catalyst for Change, this insightful conversation explored the role that cultural entrepreneurship plays as an agent for social change today by asking important questions and reflecting on the unique innovative experiences of the panelists. This is how, after offering thought-provoking reflections on the concept of “culture” and its roles in the construction of a truly democratic society, Prof. Sommer explained the vision behind her work with the Cultural Agents Initiative and Pre-Texts. Following these ideas, the panelists also discussed the meaning of “cultural diplomacy” and “cultural IQ”, as well as other professional aspects such as programing socially-committed cultural contents and using the arts to promote human development. Towards the end of this event, all the experts also engaged with the audience members by answering inspiring questions and by offering useful examples on how to become both successful cultural entrepreneurs and engaged artists in today’s interconnected global world.  

- Federico Olivieri, 
Cultural Agents Initiative, Harvard University



8th Worldwide Meeting on Human Values / Mexico

October 8, 2016

On October, the 8th Worldwide Meeting on Human Values took place in Monterrey, Mexico. This year, efforts focused on "Coping Social Crisis With the Value of Justice" with three anchor themes: Social Justice, Fair Economy and Restorative Justice.

Prof. Doris Sommer, director of Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University and founder of Pre-Texts methodology, together with Verónica Dávila, director of Pre-Texts Mexico, presented the talk “Pre-Texts model of Educational and Civic Transformation”. The incredible lecture highlights the interconnectedness of art, politics, civility, education, innovation and the importance of cultivating critical thinking in our learning spaces, while simultaneously exposing the Latin American influences that inspired the Pre-Texts methodology.



Pre-Texts Workshop at University of
Los Andes, Colombia

October 3, 2016

On October 3, Professor Doris Sommer visited The Art History Department at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, during her visit she made a special workshop with artists, actors, students and teachers of the Art Department, psychologist and engineers. The workshop began at 2:00pm and the central text was “The Letters on the aesthetic education of man” (fragments) by Frederich Schiller. This session was preceded by warm up exercises (based on the work of Augusto Boal) to achieve a safe space that developed trust and cooperation. Then, while the participants began to design covers for the text with recycled cardboard, scissors, glitter, markers and colored paper; one of the participants began to read out loud. The text began to be represented in a theatrical way, fragmented, cropped, pasted, discussed; and between every process the participants answered the question "What did we do?".

The last activity of the day was a debate. Professor Sommer invited two participants of the group to lead this moment, and they proposed to create a debate of the text by groups. While two groups were discussing, the other groups were drawing to express their agreement or disagreement to the debate and the different positions that were discussed. To close the workshop the participants organised in a circle and expressed their opinions about Pre-texts and the afternoon of cooperation and interaction around the texts of Schiller. The highlight of this moment was when a student gave a drawing to another member of the group to express empathy with his ideas. Although it was part of the activity, no one gave insults or praise to their companions, and this was a very emotional moment that made a big difference.


- Laura Oliveros,
Cultural Agents



Civic Education is Aesthetics, Necessarily

October 3, 2016

The initiative that professor Doris Sommer congregates is a web of academics, artists, educators and organizers that work for the arts, humanities and social sciences to be recognized as resources for social and educational development. In that way, the talk Civic Education is Aesthetics, Necessarily, presents a program of investigation based in the arts for the development of critical thinking and citizenship.

On October 3rd, Professor Doris Sommer was visiting the Art History Department at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, just a day after Colombia held a plebiscite to endorse the peace process with  the FARC, and the majority voted 'No'. It was a very difficult moment for many in Colombia and Professor Sommer pronounced to us these encouraging words:

"If we don’t know how it feels, the political freedom... How are we gonna get that?

The only way to achieve political freedom without sacrificing the objective - that is the human being, -is through an indirect way; with desire. I want to invite you all to be spokesmen, ambassadors and smiths of this desire of achieving a stable and lasting peace. 

The human being has a internal civil war: reason, passion, reason, passion. Why don’t we kill ourselves everyday? Why don’t we explode in that internal civil war? Because we are sensible and we have a special function that no one mentions, and those functions are: to Play and to Create.

Without beauty, art and debates, we are in the iron cage of reason, and in there we can die like martyrs. So, the invitation is to achieve big changes through the aesthetic way; the way of beauty, of art and communication; of talking about things that really matter, of saying over what was already said, through Play and Creation."


- Laura Oliveros,
Cultural Agents


'A Woman on the Edge” Documentary film screens with a discussion from its director, Fabienne Le Houerou
May 5th, 2016
“Women on the edge” A Tibetan Case Study of Angie a Woman on the Edge in India. An ethnographic film followed by a discussion with director Fabienne Le Houerou. Women on the edge live at the bottom of the social pyramid in a Diaspora context. They experience a double stigmatization. The diasporia subalternity, as a member of an exiled community, but as isolated woman, the subject is subalterning her own group. Dominated by the host country and subjugated inside her own Diaspora. Examining a liminal situation is an open window to observe the heart/center of a given group and its social mechanism. The edge is also a cultural notion and a tool to explore a Diaspora organization in a host country underlining the universal position of isolated seniors or young mothers as icons of cultural frontiers. We will stress on the socio-cultural factor of the concept of the ‘edge’ using an ethnographic film shot in India in 2013 to explore the plurality of edges in Angie’s situation as a Tibetan single mother in India. Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou, ResearcheratIREMAM, Contemporary History and Visual Anthropology.

“Asylum in France: the rising paradox of Individual compassion and collective rejection of the refugees 1990-2015”  
May 4th, 2016
The number of asylum applications in France has increased by 73 percent in the past five years to 61,468. The authorities are completely overwhelmed by this influx. The French society is hesitating between two opposite attitudes: compassion and reject. Since the nineties the gap between individual compassionate emotions, and collective aggressive and repulsive answers, has stressed an unbearable paradox. The images given by the media are tracing the difficulties and suffering endured by the refugees and are relatively positive. These pictures have not driven the authorities to a compassionate treatment collectively. Rules and refugee status determination has been severely threatened through three decades in France. In this event, will give and overview of the French paradox. Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou, ResearcheratIREMAM, Contemporary History and Visual Anthropology.

Women Health Providers in Rural Kenya: Dialogue between Araceli Alonso and Jennifer Leaning  
Dr. Araceli Alonso and Dr. Jennifer Leaning dialogue about arts, health, and human rights. They reflect on the way in which the application of academic and scientific knowledge—backed up by commitment, creativity, collaboration and empathy—has created positive synergies towards equality, equity and human flourishing in various communities of rural Kenya. 

 Dialogue about Symbolic Reparations: Antanas Mockus and Marco Abarca
Antanas Mockus, the former Major of Bogotá and creator of the program "Cultura Ciudadana" and Marcos Abarca, the Costa Rican lawyer expert in Human Rights and author of the program "Aula Verde" held an interesting dialogue about Symbolic Reparations and all the challenges involved in this issue. A group composed by academics, artists, students and researchers (included the reknowned Chilean poet, Raúl Zurita) were engaged in a thought provoking conversation that resulted in deep reflections. Within an intimate setting, a beautiful and honest conversation took place, where stories were told,  challenging questions were asked, and new ideas were conjured.

Hispanic Seminar
Federico Finchelstein: “El mito del fascismo. De Freud a Borges”

Pedagogos de Vanguardia
Antanas Mockus, New York University
Luis Camnitzer, Artist