Newsletter, 22 December 2014

Cultural Agents Initiative: Arts and Humanities in Civic Engagement
Pedro Reyes, Visual Bibliography 1 (Sanatorium), 2014. 

22 December 2014
Dear Friends,

We hope you enjoy this biweekly update, which highlights some of our recent activities and the work of other cultural agents. Please see our websites for more information, news, and a list of our upcoming events: and

As we hope to support your work as a cultural agent too, please send your news to us at

To all of our supporters, “connectionists” (tejedores, tecelões), and collaborators throughout the world, thank you!

Happy Holidays!

With many thanks,
The Cultural Agents Team

As the year comes to an end, we would like to thank our wonderful interns for their support. William Ieong, an undergraduate student from Boston University, and David Gómez, a Doctoral Candidate from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, have supported our work this past term, and will continue to help us keep you informed of our latest news. David will also develop a list of Internships for Cultural Agents, which will be posted on our website this spring.

Mariana Grajales recently began working with the Cultural Agents Initiative to improve and update our Pre-Texts website. She is a Doctoral Candidate with a concentration in Translation Studies and Latin American Literature in the Comparative Literature Department at SUNY Binghamton. She is interested in the interface between translation and writing, and the role of translation in the formation of cultural identities and expressions. Her pedagogical interests include cooperative learning and the ways in which literature can stimulate critical reflections on history, language, and sociopolitical issues.
After participating in our recent Pre-Texts workshop at the Bok Center, Mariana is beginning to brainstorm ways that Pre-Texts could be implemented in graduate programs, recognizing Pre-Texts as a valuable tool for all aspects of a graduate student’s development as a researcher, writer and teacher.

Wanwan Weng, a Master of Education Candidate in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Language & Literacy Program, will also work with us as part of the HGSE’s Field Experience course, beginning in February.

Chengdu, China
Teacher Training Workshop on the Language Out Loud (LOL) Instructional Program

On December 8 and 9, Clement Chung, the President of Wiseman Education in Hong Kong, and Trecia Reavis, the Cultural Agents Initiative’s Capacity Builder of Pre-Texts in China facilitated a Pre-Texts workshop for approximately 35 administrators, foreign teachers and English teachers from Yizhou Elementery School and other local schools.

Trecia and Clement used Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree for the training. Participants designed many interesting learning activities that demonstrated the integrated nature of language acquisition. “Activities in this workshop made the LOL Instructional Program fun, vivid and easy to understand.” Considering the benefits of Pre-Texts, Cathy, a Project Manager, stated: “LOL integrates higher-order thinking skills and language acquisition. By implementing LOL into our curriculum, we believe our children can improve much faster and grow much further!”

For more photographs and the original report on this workshop, see:  

Other Active Cultural Agents 

Hands Up United 
Co-founded by the artist and activist Tef Po, Hands Up United has been one of the leading organizers of protests against the criminalization of black and brown people and the excessive use of force by law enforcement against these populations in Ferguson. In addition to demonstrations, the organization has also developed other programs to advance the goal of creating a more egalitarian society. Among these initiatives are the Breakfast and Books program for children and a Freedom School for adults.
If you would like to contribute books (they are especially in need of those relating to African and African American history and culture, urban history and sociology, etc.), donation boxes will be available this week at the following locations at Harvard University: the 4th floor of CGIS-South; the Warren Center office on the 4th floor of Emerson; the History Department office in Robinson Hall; the American Studies Program office in the Barker Center; the Department of African and African American Studies; the Sociology Department; and the Hiphop Archive and Research Institute at the Hutchins Center. If you would prefer to make a financial contribution, please contact Vincent Brown, Elizabeth Kai Hinton, Walter Johnson, Tommie Shelby, or Brandon Terry.
To learn more about Hands Up United and how to join the movement, see:

Art at Work
In a previous newsletter we introduced Art at Work as a successful example of cultural agency. In partnership with the city of Portland, Maine, Marty Pottenger has led an initiative to use the arts as a way to address different municipal problems and develop creative solutions since 2007. In a recent TEDX talk, Marty Pottenger illustrates the benefits and difficulties of her experience merging art making and governance in Portland. To watch the talk:

The Cultural Agents Initiative recognizes the arts and humanities as vital resources for positive social change. Working from a long humanistic tradition dedicated to civic development, we focus on identifying artists, educators, and leaders who have developed creative practices and respond to the role of art in building civil society and confronting its challenges.
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Copyright © 2013 Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, All rights reserved.

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December 22, 2014
by Rodriguez