“Transing Academia: Scholarship for Social Change.” A Transdisciplinary Graduate Symposium Drew University, 28 February 2020

Becca Miller's picture
Call for Papers
December 15, 2019
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Human Rights, Political History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Women's & Gender History / Studies


“Transing Academia: Scholarship for Social Change.”

A Transdisciplinary Graduate Symposium

Drew University, Madison NJ

28 February 2020 

"What we have witnessed in our own time is the death of universities as centres of critique. Since Margaret Thatcher, the role of academia has been to service the status quo, not challenge it in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future. We will not change this simply by increasing state funding of the humanities as opposed to slashing it to nothing. We will change it by insisting that a critical reflection on human values and principles should be central to everything that goes on in universities, not just to the study of Rembrandt or Rimbaud." - Terry Eagleton 

Drew University’s Graduate Student Association is pleased to announce an upcoming Transdisciplinary Graduate Symposium on February 28, 2020. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Transing Academia: Scholarship for Social Change.” In times of social unrest, political change, and extremist ideologies, the work of critically examining social issues through a scholarly lens is more critical than ever. Despite the perceived chasm between the so-called “ivory tower” and the “real world,” this symposium refutes the notion that historical scholarship, cultural studies, religious studies or educational training have no direct relevance to broader society. Instead, this symposium seeks to put these creative, intellectual, and professional studies in direct conversation with social issues. 

The theme of this symposium is purposefully expansive, crafting space for students of various backgrounds to dialogue across disciplines. One of the hallmarks of Drew University’s graduate program is the commitment to transdisciplinary scholarship, in which students study under faculty of diverse backgrounds and expertise. In graduate programs with increasingly specialized degrees, this cross-pollination uniquely prepares students to engage with contemporary social issues. The goal of this symposium is to create space for that transdisciplinary dialogue, as students bring their scholarship to bear upon current events and social discourse. We invite work that is transdisciplinary, transformative, transgressive, transcendent. We seek to share work that transgresses traditional boundaries of disciplines, of the academy, and of typical themes of study.

This symposium draws upon the model in the Drew University Caspersen program, inviting scholars engaged in various disciplines, including, but not limited to, studies in Arts & Letters, History, Cultural Studies, Education, Finance, Literature, Theological and Religious Studies, and Medical Humanities. 

Proposals for individual papers, roundtable discussions, poster presentations, and live readings are invited on any topic demonstrating the relationships between scholarship, social discourse and social change. 

Proposals are particularly welcome concerning the following themes: 

  • The role of higher education in fighting extremist ideologies 
  • Collecting, preserving, and exhibiting history: the role and politics of libraries, archives, and museums  
  • The relationship of gender studies, queer studies, and intersectional feminism to women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights 
  • The poetic is political: literature, film, media as resistance
  • The relationship between theology and social justice 
  • Medical discourse of the body, intersex rights, trans rights, FGM, menstrual activism
  • Experience and rights of LGBTQ+ students on college campuses and in academia
  • Reproductive rights: politics, medicine, and/or representation (The Handmaid’s Tale) 
  • Ethics in medicine
  • The opioid crisis
  • Decolonizing the classroom: considering race, class, sexuality and gender identity in education 
  • Adversity index and educational access
  • Literacy, readership, and the role of libraries in activism
  • Interfaith dialogues
  • Politicizing the environment and issues in climate change 
  • After the wolf of Wall Street: considering ethics in finance 
  • Title VII and workplace discrimination 
  • Politics and narratives of immigration, statehood, citizenship and “the other”
  • Human rights on college campuses: Title IX, LGBTQ+ students 
  • Trans dialogues, that is, work that is transdisciplinary, transgressive, transcendent 

Deadline for Submissions is 15 December 2019.  Proposals should be 300 words in length and accompanied by a 100 word biography. For roundtable discussions, please submit all participants' names and a single abstract for the group. Individual presentations should not exceed 20 minutes in length. In your proposal, indicate if your work is a paper presentation, poster presentation, live reading, or roundtable discussion.

Submissions should be submitted via the online form at https://forms.gle/oPx6PoV6Jt4Sdadh6 or emailed directly to rmiller@drew.edu . Please contact the symposium organizer Becca Miller at rmiller@drew.edu with any questions. 

Contact Info: 

Symposium Organizer: Becca Miller

Contact Email: