Graduate School

The Academy in Context

The Academy in Context aims to foster a stronger sense of community among Brown's graduate students. The dinner-seminar series provides a venue for meaningful interactions and discussion on topics of interest across disciplines, typically concerning ethics.

Academy in ContextPrior events have featured speakers on a wide range of topics, including: tensions between diversity goals; the relationship between theoretical perspectives and questions of truth and evidence; computers and human values; discerning right from wrong in the context of institutional culture; science and superstitions; and the intersections between government policy making and the scientific community.


The Graduate School launched this series in 2005, in partnership with the Office of Campus Life and the Graduate Student Council. In 2006, the Graduate School received a grant from the National Science Foundation and the Council of Graduate Schools to promote ethics training of graduate students, which helped to support departmental training, interdisciplinary workshops, a cross-sciences breakfast roundtable and this series. The Graduate School now sponsors up to two dinner-seminars per academic year.


If you have questions about the series or would like to make suggestions for future topics or speakers, please contact the Graduate School.

Fall 2019 Event

VanWey PorderLeah VanWey and Stephen Porder are the featured speakers for the November 20, 2019 Academy in Context dinner-seminar on Creating Knowledge and Making Change: Challenges of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research and Leadership.

The environmental challenges of the 21st century can't be understood by a single academic discipline; neither can they be solved by academic knowledge alone. Professors VanWey and Porder will describe their individual and joint work over the past decade to advance interdisciplinary scholarship on environmental change, focusing on agricultural systems in Brazil, and to promote real world improvements in sustainability, focusing on the Brown campus.

They will describe the work itself, but primarily focus on the process of learning to speak to each other and to broader publics. Such collaboration and outreach requires consideration of the often-unwritten assumptions about the ethical and practical aspects of research, underlying epistemologies, and the value of going over to the dark side of academic administration.

Register to attend