Innovations Bringing the Humanities and Social Sciences to the Public

September 18, 2020
Brooke Holmes and Dan-el Padilla Peralta will present on “Rupturing Tradition” illustrated by the 2009 painting "Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson)" by Kehinde Wiley.

By Catie Crandell

For the first time since it began fifteen years ago, the Innovation Forum will include participants from the humanities and social sciences. The competition and networking event, hosted by the Keller Center, offers Princeton scholars a chance to pitch research that shows the potential to create an impact through social, educational, and commercial means.

The event will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 29, with humanities presentations/pitches from 2-3 PM, and interactive demo stations and closing ceremonies from 4-5 PM. The event will be free and open to the public. Please register here.

Through a partnership with the Humanities Council, this year’s Forum will expand its definition of innovative research to showcase projects designed to make a social impact through the humanities and social sciences.

Scholars from Classics, French and Italian, and Anthropology will present alongside the usual set of STEM projects seeking patents and licensing agreements. Audience members will learn about apps designed to bring poetry into our daily lives, films that tackle the juvenile justice system, web tools that empower civic organizations in the process of redistricting, and courses that incorporate activism to reimagine the scope and practice of public, global humanities.

Brooke Holmes and Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Classics) propose “Rupturing Tradition” as an experiment in the form of a graduate seminar. Designed to “lay the groundwork for new communities of knowledge production around the Greco-Roman world,” the course is offered under the auspices of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM) and team-taught with Chiara Ricciardone and Micah White, founding members of the Activist Graduate School, which offers online courses for activists. The course creates a space for students and professors to envision the kinds of inter- and extra-disciplinary communities that might emerge in an unprecedentedly open and inclusive space.

Laurence Ralph (Anthropology) will pitch further projects in the vein of his animated short video “The Torture Letters,” which tackles issues of police brutality and the juvenile justice system. Ralph’s extensive scholarship on social inequality in the United States is the foundation for a graphic novel and a second animated film that will serve not only as pedagogical tools in Ralph’s own courses but also offer accessible and creative media for spreading knowledge about the juvenile justice system to new audiences. The project aims to spark frank conversation about the criminal justice system in America.

Effie Rentzou (French and Italian) proposes an application, Poetrygo!, that uses portable digital technology to bring poetry into our everyday lives and integrate it into our perception of the world. Harnessing the power of the very devices that most often distract us, Poetrygo! would pair specific locations and objects with relevant poems, integrating a layer of imaginative thinking and aesthetic pleasure into our experience of our environments.

Computer scientists Preeti Iyer and Kyle Barnes present a web-based tool,, designed to collect and analyze crowdsources community maps for use in redistricting. The tool is backed by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which exposes state and congressional districts that are drawn based on partisan interests rather than citizen input. Representable empowers civil organizations to report communities of interest, a legally enforceable standard, and will help to democratize the redistricting process. The project seeks to develop training materials and partnerships to bring Representable to underrepresented communities.

The Innovation Forum is also supported by the Office of Technology Licensing. Please register here.

Watch the video here.

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