2023-24 Cohort Themes and Faculty Principals


Learning and Living Leadership
at Tulane

Mallory Monaco Caterine  
Senior Professor of Practice,
Department of Classical Studies


Leadership is a learned skill that Tulane students can develop through many opportunities on campus. This cohort will take an academic and experiential approach to the study of leadership by engaging with readings, skills development workshops, and meeting with local community leaders from all walks of life. The goal is for you to identify your own leadership qualities and begin to consider where you might want to serve your community. Cohort activities culminate in smart goal setting for the remainder of your time at Tulane.

Nicole Gasparini

Leave Your Bias at the Lab Door:
Equitable Future in STEM

Nicole Gasparini
Associate Professor,
Department of Earth and Environmental Science

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are exciting, rewarding, and lucrative. Yet many STEM jobs go unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants, in part due to racial and gender bias and harassment that drive promising students out of STEM pipelines. Our cohort will explore why some groups of people have been minoritized in STEM fields. We will watch and discuss movies about how science gets done and who gets the resources and glory. Other opportunities include discussions with STEM practitioners and learning about bias and equity. All students are welcome in this cohort, regardless of your (potential) major or personal identity.

Brittany Kennedy

Imagined Communities

Brittany Kennedy
Senior Professor of Practice,
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

This cohort will explore the idea of “imagined communities,” famously defined by the scholar Benedict Anderson as spaces that are “distinguished not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style by which they are imagined” (6). We will first discuss this idea broadly and constructively, reflecting on how students construct different communities among themselves, within their residence halls, at Tulane, and in New Orleans—a city whose spaces have beed imagined and re-imagined during a history defined by shifting nationalities and identities. We will also focus on the communities that the cohort most wants to examine, building on conversations going on in your classes, visiting specific sites in the community and, hopefully, incorporating your own research interests on nationalism and how it is constructed. In so doing, I hope that we can answer questions about what consequences there are for the “style” in which we imagine communities, both for the communities themselves, the individuals they choose to include and, perhaps even more importantly, those they exclude.

Leslie Scott

Community Engaged Scholarship in New Orleans: Philanthropy and Social Change

Leslie Scott
Assistant Professor,
Department of Theater and Dance

The Community-Engaged Scholarship cohort will focus on your path toward becoming an engaged citizen-leader, and effective and ethical social change advocate/agent. The cohort content and service experiences will align with three foundational concepts that are essential to engaging in philanthropy effectively and ethically: ways of thinking about complexity, ways of being in relation to oneself and others, and ways of doing to achieve impact. While this framework is relevant to students aspiring to engage in social change in any sector, discipline, or industry, we will be applying it to our study of not-for-profit sector and philanthropy in New Orleans directly. We will use the current pandemic to look at how local organizations are working quickly to stay connected and provide resources and services for their communities. This is a perfect area of inquiry for anyone who is interested in going into arts administration, creative entrepreneurship, and/or is looking for creative solutions to global problems. The seminar will feature leading guest speakers from across the country as we all navigate this new time together to think creatively about solutions to our immediate community.

Samuel T. Brandao

Race, Music, and Consciousness

Samuel T. Brandao
Clinical Assistant Professor
Law School

Race and music—both are powerful lenses through which to explore American society and our individual and collective consciousness. This cohort of scholars will look to New Orleans—not only its crucial role in the history of our national music and our racial consciousness, but also its current identity as a music town and racial justice battleground—to understand how race, music, and consciousness shape each other, how they shape us, and where we are headed. With the help of musicians and scholars, we will hear music that exemplifies the city’s living musical traditions and update our perspectives on racial justice topics like the education reform movement, the criminal justice system, and segregation. By the end of the year, scholars will have heard some great music, learned about the city’s progress on social justice, and considered the connections and the way forward.


Food Security, Food Justice and Climate Change

Jelagat Cheruiyot
Professor of Practice,
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

How do we negotiate around a pandemic and a major hurricane happening at the same time? Especially how do we access food? who has access to food? Food security, food justice and climate change cohort is designed for students with a general interest in food systems in New Orleans. The goal is to create a transformative space for intellectual engagement with our students, community, and faculty to explore food security, food justice, and climate change both theoretically and experientially. We will alternate between discussions and community engagement at the community gardens and neighborhood meetings. We will have discussions based on assigned readings, podcasts, and other material on topic such as 1) food security, food justice, food equity, food sovereignty. 2) environmental racism and environmental justice. 3) circular food systems: Agroecology for food sovereignty: food nourishing our bodies, soil as a living organism: life sustaining. 4) local access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. 5) the relationship between living conditions and food production. 6) pollution and backyard farming, 7) the foundation for urban political ecology and food security. 8) power, politics, profits, and technology. We will partner with Broadmoor Improvement Association (BIA) and the Mardi Gras Indians Chiefs Council (MGICC). The cohort will attend a community/neighborhood meetings in which they will listen and engage in conversations and service with the community members. My hope is that at the end this experience, students will be inspired and challenged to act.


Man in the Machine – Exploring Individual Differences in Organizations

Ambika Prasad
School of Business

This course will focus on an intersection of fields – one that is rooted in individual differences and the other, in organizational behavior. Diversity will be an anchor for defining conversations in this class. We will focus on understanding the nature of diversity - how do we define it? what are the different paradigms and are there any new manifestations of diversity that should be recognized? The course will study individual differences in organizational contexts. Some questions we will ask are – do organizations allow for an authentic expression of individual differences? To this extent, what are the challenges and benefits for the organizations as well as for the individuals? The course will also explore virtual teams in organizations: what are the factors that make a virtual team effective? Has remote working created new expressions of organizational diversity? Arguably, two recent events that have characterized our consciousness are COVID and diversity. Both have triggered changes in the way organizations define themselves. This course offers students an avenue to explore these contemporary ideas. The seminar will include guest speakers and field trips (COVID circumstances permitting).

Antonio Gomez

The Power of Representation

Antonio Gómez
Associate Professor,
Department of Spanish and Portuguese


Should we care about representation in arts, cultures, and cultural industries? Why? Do the products we consume reflect the society we live in, or is it the other way about? How is “representation” defined and measured? How are we to deal with the problems we see? What can we do about them? How do conflicts of representation affect us, individually and as a community? These are some of the questions this cohort will address while taking a close look at how minorities are constructed (both symbolically and materially) in cultural products we consume everyday – texts, movies, plays, tv shows, advertising, sports…We will try to understand the link (if there is one) between the two common meanings of the verb “to represent” – to depict something or someone, that is, to represent aesthetically, and to stand in for someone else or a group, that is, to represent politically. After a general introduction to these problems, we will scrutinize a few examples I have chosen, and then move on to consider cases that arise from your own interests and experiences. We will try to strike a balance between the local and the global here – paying attention not only to products of widespread distribution and consumption (such as the sitcom Ted Lasso), but also to situations that are particular to us as a group living in New Orleans, and a part of Tulane University.


Acknowledging and Removing Bias

Marie Dillon Dahleh
Senior Professor of Practice,
Mathematics Department
Associate Dean,
Strategic Initiatives in the
School of Science and Engineering

Data is everywhere and is used to make decisions from who to hire to where to eat. We often hear the phrase data driven decision making. It makes data and the algorithms which use data sound so objective. The reality is they mirror the world in which they are created. This cohort will look critically at how data is collected, how it is visualized and the algorithms which use it. The exploration will include discussions based in texts and documentaries which explore how current practices contain bias. The group will explore what does it mean to be fair (in other words unbiased). Looking at definitions and techniques for being fair provided by mathematics will give the cohort one way to think about how to reduce bias. Once we have a shared understanding of fairness we will examine the effect of how we visualize data on the story we want to tell by looking at data visualizations from the turn of the last century to today. These will include among other things how artists use data to create their work. Lastly we will start to think about the missing data. What we are not collecting and why. The goal of this cohort is to examine both the power, promise and limitations of data on our everyday lives.

Arthur Mora

Zip Code > Genetic Code

Arthur Mora
Clinical Professor,
Department of Health Policy and Management,
School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

What does it mean to be healthy? Why do some groups of people have higher rates of certain diseases, and more deaths and suffering from them, compared to others? How can we address these disparities if we don’t address the structural inequities that cause them? And how do we do this using the American policymaking process? This cohort will explore these and related questions through an interdisciplinary study of health, inequity, and policy. We'll host discussions and guests, and even explore New Orleans, to think critically about health, the social determinants of health, and how we eliminate disparities in communities like ours across the country.