Davarian L. Baldwin
Davarian L. Baldwin is an internationally recognized scholar, author, and public advocate. He is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Founding Director of the Smart Cities Research Lab at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. His academic and political commitments have focused on global cities and particularly the diverse and marginalized communities that struggle to maintain sustainable lives in urban locales. Baldwin is the award-winning author of several books, most recently, In The Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities. His commentaries and opinions have been featured in numerous outlets from NBC News, BBC, and HULU to USA Today, the Washington Post, and TIME magazine. Baldwin was named a 2022 Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation for his work.
Touba Ghadessi is Provost and Professor of the History of Art at Wheaton College. She
is a scholar of early modern art history who has published on the examination of
difference, expressed through human monsters. Her more recent research explores
alternate bodies and their implications for ruling epistemologies.
To pursue her scholarly interests, Touba has been awarded publication grants and
awards to study at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, to conduct
archival research in Paris, Florence, and Rome, and to participate in the Centre national
de la recherche scientifique’s sponsored seminars in Paris. She has been invited to
discuss her work at numerous venues including the Mahindra Center at Harvard
University, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, and Northwestern University. Her
work has been published in books and journals, such as the Harvard University I Tatti
Studies and the Oxford University Journal of the History of Collections.
Before becoming Provost, Touba was co-chair of the Art and Art History Department,
and Associate Provost for Academic Administration and Faculty Affairs, during which
term she worked on internal operations and external engagements, on supporting plural
avenues of research and on delineating strategic expansion of institutional reach.
Among her leadership roles, Touba has served on the board of directors as chair of
the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, on the board of the Providence
Athenaeum, was part of the founding members of the New England Humanities
Consortium, and is currently on the Executive Committee for the Faculty of Color
The intentionality that frames Touba’s collective stewardship comes with the purposeful
confrontation of institutional flaws in order to establish equitable procedures to support
abundant learning and just practice for faculty and students alike. With this aim, Touba
deploys thoughtful action to support the belief that knowledge is the most valuable
commodity we have and that we must share it generously.
Of Iranian ancestry, Touba was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, where she
grew up in an international environment that emphasized the importance of diplomacy,
cultural curiosity, and dialogue. She obtained a Maturité fédérale scientifique before
moving to the United States and receiving her PhD from Northwestern University.
Sandy Grande is a Professor of Political Science and Native American and Indigenous Studies at
the University of Connecticut with affiliations in American Studies, Philosophy, and the Race,
Ethnicity and Politics program. Her research and teaching interfaces Native American and
Indigenous Studies with critical theory toward the development of more nuanced analyses of the
colonial present. She was recently awarded the Ford Foundation, Senior Fellowship (2019-2020) for
a project on Indigenous Elders and aging. Her book, Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political
Thought was published in a 10th anniversary edition and a Portuguese translation is anticipated to be
published in Brazil in 2024. She has also published numerous book chapters and articles including:
Accumulation of the Primitive: The Limits of Liberalism and the Politics of Occupy Wall Street, The
Journal of Settler Colonial Studies; Refusing the University in Toward What Justice?; “American Indian
Geographies of Identity and Power,” Harvard Educational Review; and, “Red-ding the Word and the
World” In, Paulo Freire’s Intellectual Roots: Toward Historicity in Praxis. She is also a founding member of
New York Stands for Standing Rock, a group of scholars and activists that forwards the aims of Native
American and Indigenous sovereignty and resurgence. As one of their projects, they published the
Standing Rock Syllabus. In addition to her academic and organizing work, she has provided
eldercare for her parents for over ten years and remains the primary caregiver for her 95-yr. old
J. Kēhaulani Kauanui
J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and affiliate faculty in Anthropology at
Wesleyan University, where she teaches courses related to critical Indigenous studies, critical
race studies, settler colonial studies and anarchist studies. Kauanui earned her B.A. in Women’s
Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at
the University of California, Santa Cruz. Kauanui is the author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism
and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity (Duke University Press 2008); Paradoxes of
Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism (Duke
University Press 2018); and Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists,
Scholars, and Tribal Leaders (University of Minnesota Press 2018). Her work is widely
published in a range of academic journals and edited books. She also co-edits a book series
with Jean M. O’Brien called “Critical Indigeneities” for the University of Carolina Press. Kauanui
is one of the six co-founders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association,
established in 2008. And she is the recipient of the Western History Association’s 2022
American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award.
Frank Tuitt is the University of Connecticut’s Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer and Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Neag School of Education. With 25 years of experience as an administrator, academic, and change agent in higher education in the United States (and more recently around the globe), Tuitt is responsible for systems-wide strategic planning and implementation of mission-driven institutional diversity efforts.
Tuitt’s scholarship critically examines issues of race, Inclusive Excellence, and diversity in and outside the classroom from the purview of faculty and students. Tuitt is a coeditor and contributing author of five books including Race, Equity, and the Learning Environment: The Global Relevance of Critical and Inclusive Pedagogies in Higher Education and most recentlyCampus Rebellions and Plantation Politics: Power, Diversity, and the Emancipatory Struggle in Higher Education. Internationally, Tuitt was a visiting scholar at the Echo Center for Diversity Policy in 2019-2020 at The Hague, Netherlands. He was the inaugural visiting scholar at the Echo Center and delivered lectures, facilitated training, and conducted research in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the Netherlands and to post-secondary institutions in Europe.
Tuitt received an honorary doctorate in 2019 from the University of Hasselt for making higher education more equity-minded and inclusive. Tuitt holds a B. A. in Human Relations (Sociology Based) from Connecticut College, and an M.A. and Ed.D. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy with a concentration in Higher Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Touba Ghadessi is Associate Provost for Academic Administration and Faculty Affairs and Professor of the History of Art at Wheaton College. She is also the co-founder the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities, the past chair of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, a member of the inaugural executive committee for the New England Humanities Consortium’s Faculty of Color board, a board member of the Providence Athenaeum, and the past joint president of the oldest Renaissance society in America, the New England Renaissance Conference.
Her last book, Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance, focuses on how human difference has been historically represented, categorized, and interpreted in various Italian and French courts of the Renaissance. Her new research addresses theoretical constructs of monstrosity, as well as gender fluidity in images of French Valois rulers. From alchemy, to wilderness, and to hermaphroditic bodies, this project traces how different bodies led to alternate ruling epistemologies and framed the dialogue between a monarch’s political intentions and the public’s perception of authority.
She has been invited to discuss her work at numerous venues (Mahindra Center at Harvard University, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University…) and her work has been published in books and journals, such as the Harvard University I Tatti Studies and the Oxford University Journal of the History of Collections.
The courses Ghadessi teaches highlight intellectual concepts and material that often fall outside of the common canon of art history. It is through these discourses that she encourages students to become critical thinkers, inside and outside of the classroom.
To pursue her scholarly interests, Ghadessi has been awarded grants to study at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris), to conduct archival research in Paris, Florence, and Rome, and to participate in the Centre national de la recherche scientifique’s sponsored seminars in Paris.
A passionate advocate for the true and concrete value of the humanities, particularly in a professional, civic, and political context, Ghadessi believes that knowledge, in all its forms, is what constructs a just and innovative society.
Of Persian descent, Touba Ghadessi was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, where she grew up in an international environment that emphasized the importance of diplomacy, cultural curiosity, and dialogue. She obtained a Maturité fédérale scientifique before moving to the United States and receiving her PhD from Northwestern University.
Darryl Harper is Associate Professor of Music and director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College. Before coming to Amherst, he served as chair of the Department of Music in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Harper is a jazz musician interested in how race, culture, and political economy intersect with music. His performance credits as a clarinetist include dates with Orrin Evans, Tim Warfield, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roscoe Mitchell, Dave Holland, Uri Caine, Claudia Acuña, and Regina Carter. He recently toured with The Harlem Hellfighters: James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin, pianist Jason Moran’s multimedia meditation in tribute to the iconic World War I veteran who helped to disseminate African American music in Europe. As a composer, Harper has published and recorded over two dozen works, including a film score he co-wrote for the award-winning documentary film Herskovits: At the Heart of Blackness. He has recorded seven albums as a leader, including Y’All Got It: The Music from The Wiz by Charlie Smalls (Hipnotic 2004), Stories in Real Time (Hipnotic 2009), The Edenfred Files (Hipnotic 2013), and The Need’s Got to Be So Deep (Hipnotic 2014).
Kareem Khubchandani is the Mellon Bridge assistant professor in theater, dance, and performance studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2020), co-editor of Queer Nightlife (forthcoming, University of Michigan Press), recipient of the 2019 CLAGS Fellowship, and curator of www.criticalauntystudies.com. He has published in Scholar and Feminist Online, Transgender Studies Quarterly, SAMAJ, South Asia, Journal of Asian American Studies, and the Velvet Light Trap. Kareem is currently working on two new book projects: Decolonize Drag and Auntologies: Queer Aesthetics and South Asian Aunties.
An interdisciplinary scholar, Noliwe Rooks’ is the chair of and a professor in Africana Studies at Brown University and the founding director of the Segrenomics Lab at the school. Her work explores how race and gender both impact and are impacted by popular culture, social history and political life in the United States. She works on the cultural and racial implications of beauty, fashion and adornment; race, capitalism and education, and the urban politics of food and cannabis production.
The author of four books and numerous articles, essays and op-ed’s, Rooks has received research funding from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson School among others. She lectures frequently at colleges and universities around the country and is a regular contributor to popular outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Time Magazine and NPR.
Rooks’ current book, in which she coined the term “segrenomics,” is Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education which won an award for non-fiction from the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Her current research, for which she has received a Kaplan Fellowship and a fellowship from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, will explore relationships between capitalism, land, urban food politics and cannabis legalization in the United States.
Mac Irvine is a queer writer, curator, and PhD student in Theatre & Performance Studies at Tufts University. Their interdisciplinary dissertation project, titled “Making a Clubscape: Space, Labor, and Performance in Austin’s Queer Nightlife,” explores the gendered and racialized labor of identity, community, and movement making in nightlife and performance spaces in Texas. Their scholarship has been supported by the Tufts’ Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Fung E.M. Humanities Summer Fellowship. Mac teaches courses on feminist, queer, and trans* studies and performance studies, and has developed open education resources as a pedagogy fellow at the Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies. They are a researcher and curator with the Chicago Black Social Culture Map, a project of Honey Pot Performance. Mac is a regular curator and collaborator with Texas-based performers and organizers p1nkstar, Y2K, Thee Gay Agenda, and others. They have also worked with Austin-based organizations including Badgerdog, OutYouth, and The Austin Chronicle. In 2019, Mac received an MA in Women’s & Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where their performance ethnography of queer nightlife creators in Chicago was recognized with the department’s award for outstanding thesis. Mac received their B.S.J. in Magazine Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2014.