2024-25 College Scholars Cohorts


Marie 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.


Ryan McBride, Senior Professor of Practice, Center for Public Service

What is art? What is beauty? How should we think about aesthetic experiences? How is artistic imagination connected with social change? These philosophical questions and the wisdom of various authors stretching back to antiquity who have grappled with them will guide us as we attend a wide range of arts events in New Orleans, including gallery openings, theatrical productions, musical performances, botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, and cultural gatherings. These events will be accompanied by discussions that will sometimes include the curators, organizers, and the artists themselves. Our aesthetic experiences will ground our conversations about theory and our conversations about theory will help us to think more carefully about the many dimensions of our aesthetic experiences.


Tiffany Lin, Associate Professor, Design Program Director, School of Architecture

Art and Architecture can be powerful unifiers of human perception and experience. If we can overcome personal prejudices to see the human-made world through the process of abstraction (i.e. deducing what is essential), we are taking the first step to embracing diversity—of ideas, of art, of architecture, of culture, of people, of each other. Our cohort will engage with introductory design concepts as a framework for real world experiences. We will visit local galleries, museums, monuments and architectural works to broaden our frame of reference for the historical and cultural perspectives that inform contemporary art and architecture practices in New Orleans. Discussions with local artists and architects will punctuate these field trips, offering the space to question, contextualize, and unpack each field trip. We will explore the agency of art and architecture to unite our global concerns, ignite social change, restore balance, and provide a framework for healing.


Antonio Gómez, Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Should we care about representation in arts, culture, and cultural industries? Why? Do the products we consume reflect the society we live in, or is it the other way around? How is 'representation' defined and measured? How should we address the problems we observe? What actions can we take? How do conflicts of representation affect us, both individually and as a community? These are some of the questions this cohort will address while closely examining how minorities are constructed—both symbolically and materially—in everyday cultural products, including texts, movies, plays, TV shows, advertising, and sports. We aim to understand the link, if any, between the two common meanings of the verb 'to represent': to depict something or someone aesthetically and to stand in for someone else or a group politically. After a general introduction to these issues, 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 strive to strike a balance between the local and the global, paying attention not only to products of widespread distribution and consumption, but also to situations particular to us as a group living in New Orleans and as part of Tulane University. Consider joining this cohort if you have a passion for culture and the arts. Ideal for students who enjoy attending theatre plays, opera performances, art exhibits, and film screenings, as well as critically examining and discussing issues within popular culture (music, TV, podcasts...).


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

How do we access food? Who has access to food? This 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 access, 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 access, 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 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.


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

Does leadership always have to be so serious? Usually we focus on the challenges of leadership: the heavy responsibilities, the ethical dilemmas, the urgent needs we are trying to address. But when we only focus on those aspects, we set ourselves up for burnout and despair, leaving us unable to lead at all. This cohort will explore how we can develop a sustainable leadership practice by tapping into the power of play and collective joy. Our monthly cohort meetings will include guest speakers, workshops, games, experiential field trips around New Orleans, art and literature, and reflection activities, all tailored to the collective interests of the cohort. Cohort members will learn what kinds of play supports their wellness, as well as ways that they can infuse joy into their leadership practice to better serve their communities.


Ebony Perro, Professor of Practice, Department of English

Cooking, community, and campus change are central to New Orleans/Louisiana history. Louisiana is home to world-famous food and festivities but is also home to many freedom fighters. As we learn about the contributions of those who were active in shaping Louisiana’s past, present, and future, we will explore how these “three Cs” intertwine. We will answer the questions: "How does where you are influence who you become? How does your location inform what you choose to do for the community?” This cohort invites you to discuss—and have discussions with— activists and consider how you can build upon their legacies while constructing your own. We will discuss how change agents of the past and present inform Louisiana's future. As we converse about intersecting social movements, we will learn more about where we are (geographically, historically, and socially). We will find our “why" for engaging in social justice work, cultivate our voices, and consider how the fields we pursue invite us to speak out against injustices. Topics of discussion will range from food legacies to climate change to Tulane trailblazers. As we learn about the legacies of trailblazers and change agents, we will consider the interventions we want and need to make in our community.


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 looks 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 mind sciences and the city’s progress on social justice, and considered the connections and the way forward.


Khaled Adjerid, Professor of Practice, Department of Biomedical Engineering

New technology has played a massive role in proliferating ideas of social justice, environmental justice, racial justice, political justice, and others. Examples include the Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too Movement, the Arab Spring, and movements towards gender and sexual identity equality. In this cohort, NTC College Scholars, we will use various lenses to view the recent technical advancements in big data, science, medicine, technology, and engineering, including those that cohort members may be currently working on as undergraduate students. Based on the interests of cohort scholars, we will examine the global, societal, economic, and environmental implications of big data, generative AI, large scale engineering projects, medicine and big pharma, and more. In our discussions, students will learn to use precise language to describe these social phenomena by studying examples in the New Orleans area and interacting with local practitioners of these disciplines.


Arthur Mora, Clinical Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management

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.