Director's Fund Awards

By providing financial backing to conferences, symposia, public engagement events, visiting researchers and speakers, Confluencenter proudly embraces its mission to serve as a campus-wide research institute dedicated to creative inquiry across all disciplines. Following are the events the center has supported over the years.


Fall 2016

8th Annual Feria de la Lectura

In collaboration with Ward 1 City Council member Regina Romero’s office, Confluencenter participated in this Southside event on July 30, 2016 that featured family reading activities, crafts, story time and included free books, backpacks, school supplies, haircuts and bike helmets to local K-12 students. Other participating UA units included UA Press and Enrollment Management & Student Affairs Advancement.


Trans*Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Conference

Confluencenter helped support the 4-day (Sept. 7-10) Trans*studies international academic conference that welcomed work from any field on any topic pertaining to transgender issues, sex/gender variance, gender nonconformity, and diverse embodiments-as well as work that drew upon trans* methodologies to inform research in other areas of inquiry. Keynote Presentations by Mauro Cabral and Sandy Stone.


Climate Change & Poetry

As part of the 2016-17 Reading and Lecture Series, the UA Poetry Center featured world-class poets as they addressed what overlaps, contradictions, mutual challenges, and confluences the categories that Climate Change & Poetry share with each other in a series of investigative readings. Oct. 6, Brenda Hillman & Robert Hass; Oct. 13, Aracelis Girmay; Nov. 17, Camille Dungy; Dec. 1, Joy Harjo. The series was cosponsored by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, the College of Science, the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, and Africana Studies.


Katia Cardenal and Nina @ Tucson Meet Yourself

Katia Cardenal, of the renowned Cardenal family and the surviving member of the incredible Duo Guardabarranco, was accompanied by her famously talented daughter Nina, and sand 45 minutes of Nicaraguan new song/nueva cancan at Tucson Meet Yourself on Oct. 9. Sponsored by Ted Warmbrand's ITZABOUTIME productions, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, Spanish and Portuguese, Latin American Studies, Maribel Alvarez, Raul Grijalva.


Gabino Palomares

Gabino Palomares, a main exponent of the New Song/Nueva Canción Movement from Mexico, performed a free concert in Tucson on Oct. 12 at Crowder Hall as part of his tour. He has shared the stage with such eminent troubadours as Joan Manuel Serrat, Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanés, Oscar Chávez, Tania Libertad, Guadalupe Pineda and Amparo Ochoa. His songs have decried the social injustices that the poor and the oppressed have suffered in Mexico, and one of his best known songs "The Curse of the Malinche/La Maldición de la Malinche," has become a national anthem throughout Latin America. Watch La Maldición de la Malinche on YouTube.


Focusing the Universe – Film Screening

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Lavinia Steward's gift to UA on Oct. 17, Steward Observatory screened the Confluencenter-funded documentary “Focusing the Universe,” by School of Theatre, Film and Television Distinguished Professor Peter Beudert and School of Theatre, Film and Television Associate Professor Michael Mulcahy. The 25-minute film tells the story of the Steward Observatory and how Lavinia Steward’s gift to the UA made Steward Observatory and the study of Astronomy & Space Science at the UA possible.


iLGBT Fall Symposium - Decolonize Your Diet: Recipes to Sustain Revolutionary Love

From Nov. 3-4, Professor Luz Calvo was hosted by LGBT Institute for its 2016 fall symposium. Dr. Calvo offered collaborative cooking events, public lectures, and talking circles on UA campus and at various locations around the city. The complete schedule is available here.


Food and Water in Arid Lands: Dialogues across Contemporary and Traditional Knowledge Conference

The conference, cohosted by the University of Arizona, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, the City of Tucson, and Pima County, along with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Traditional Knowledge Institute (ITKI), included representatives from Native Nations, academia, government, non-profit, and business arenas. The conference, which ran from Nov. 4-5 shared the global efforts to create sustainable and thoughtful futures informed by place, history, Traditional Knowledge, and other ways of knowing. Attendees examined sustainable practices for arid lands, including urban and arid lands agriculture, water management, and food security and sovereignty, and learned the ways in which those practices can be informed by traditional and contemporary knowledge.


Annual 'My Arizona' Lecture

On Nov 18, the School of Geography & Development presented a talk by Ellen McMahon, UA School of Art Professor, on: "A Desert Sea, a Dry River, and a Dying Forest: How Environmental Issues Come to Matter through Art and Design." McMahon traced the trajectory of her teaching career and creative practice through the lens of the generative relationships formed across multiple disciplines, with the community, and with generations of students in the School of Art.


David Loy: “Why Buddhism and the Modern World Need Each Other”

This lecture by Zen teacher and Ph.D. David Loy on Nov. 18 covered the concept that the highest ideal of Western (now global) civilization is social transformation: the idea that we can restructure our way of living together so that it is more socially just. The traditional goal of Buddhist practice is personal transformation. Freedom for the self and freedom from the self: today we can see that these ideals not only supplement each other, they need each other. Supported by Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, the center’s Contemplative Traditions group, UA’s Center for Eastern Studies and the Upaya Sangha of Tucson.


Workshop with David Loy: “Buddhism and the Ecological Challenge”

On Nov. 20, lecture by Zen teacher and Ph.D. David Loy offered a lecture on how Buddhist teachings can help us understand and respond to the ecological crisis, and what the eco-crisis means for how we understand and practice Buddhism. Supported by Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, the center’s Contemplative Traditions group, UA’s Center for Eastern Studies and the Upaya Sangha of Tucson.



Spring 2016

So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico: Arab Immigrants in Mexico

In her presentation on Jan. 22, Professor Alfaro-Velcamp shared her pioneering research on Arab immigration into Mexico in the early 20th century and included stories of immigrants who have contributed greatly to Mexico’s social, economic and cultural development. The colloquium was hosted by Center for Middle Eastern Studies and cosponsored by Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, Latin American Studies and the History Department.

Spectacular Poetics, the Poetry of Spectacle

The Poetry Center series, which ran Thursdays in Feb. 2016, featured poets Terrance Hayes, Kimiko Hahn, Khadijah Queen and Adrian Matejka. The presentations, part reading and part craft talk, took place at the Poetry Center with support from the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the Africana Studies Program, with additional support from the UA Department of East Asian Studies and the UA Medical Humanities Program.


Critical Librarianship and Pedagogy Symposium

The two-day conference, Feb. 25-26, focused on the ongoing, but parallel discourse surrounding critical pedagogy among academic librarians, critical pedagogy scholars and teaching faculty. Cosponsored by University Libraries and Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry. 


26th Annual Graduate & Professional Symposium in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Language, Literature and Culture

The theme was “Crossroad Talks: Culture, Identity, Language and Literature in Active Contact Zones.” The symposium provided an intellectually stimulating forum for interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary dialogue between scholars, professionals and community experts, Feb. 25-27. This conference was planned, organized and directed by graduate students in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona. Cosponsored by Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, Second Language Acquisition & Teaching, Spanish and Portuguese and the Graduate College. 


23rd Annual M.E.Ch.A. National Conference

The March 18-20 conference theme was "My Culture, My Shield," which is meant to empower, educate and unite the community through respect for history and culture. Presentations focused on providing information and inspiration for community building and increased college enrollment and graduation. A M.E.Ch.A. Congress will be held to further explore how to motivate students to continue work on national issues that affect Latinos in the United States such as education and social justice. Sponsors included: Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, UA Hispanic Alumni, Mexican American Studies and the College of Medicine.


“Buddhist Compassion” with Wangchen Rinpoche

On March 22, Rinpoche engaged in an informal conversation to share his practices and dharma activities. This event was part of the Buddhist Studies Lecture Series sponsored by the UA College of Humanities, East Asian Studies, Religious Studies, School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry.


“A Narrative from the Middle, for the First Time: Black Nations?/Queer Nations? In the Long 1980s”

Jafari S. Allen, anthropology professor and founder of the Miami Initiative on Race, Gender, and Sexuality, at the University of Miami spoke as part of LGBT Studies’ Miranda Joseph Endowed Lecture series. On March 24, Allen explored some of the ways activists, artists, pornographers, filmmakers, DJs, drag queens and impresarios made sense of the upheavals that the global losses of 1970s revolutions, and the settling in of what neoliberalism, Thatcherism/Reaganism and AIDS had wrought.


Filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno

Jean-Marie Teno, Africa's preeminent documentary filmmaker, has been producing and directing films on the colonial and post-colonial history of Africa for over twenty years. The March 25 presentation included clips of his film Reel Africa. On March 26, Teno screened A Leaf in the Wind, followed by discussion. His visit was supported by the UA’s Honors College, Africana Studies, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, French and Italian and Global Studies.


“Intentionality, Autonomy, and the Future of Literary and Cultural Studies”

In this talk on March 29, Charles Hatfield resituated recent ideas and developments in the fields of literary and cultural studies — such as "surface reading" and the "affective turn" — in relation to the political and economic logic of the present that appears to eschew once central concepts such as aesthetic autonomy and authorial intention. Sponsored by Spanish and Portuguese with support from College of Humanities, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, Africana Studies and English.


Oceans and Deserts: Charting Transdisciplinary Currents in Environment and Culture

Environmental questions have been driving interdisciplinary research in many humanities disciplines in recent years. The intersection of culture and environment has invigorated classrooms and inspired publications, and conversations about environmental issues have extended beyond traditional disciplinary divisions. This conference, which ran April 1-3, explored specific contributions of the humanities to environmental issues of the present and their potential for the future. This year’s keynote speaker was Sean Ireton, Associate Professor of German, University of Missouri. Sponsored by the Department of German Studies, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the Graduate and Professional Student Council.


Filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo

Jean-Pierre Bekolo is a noted African film director from Cameroon. Alongside his work as a film director, Bekolo is an activist, writer and publisher and teacher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and at Duke University. On April 3, he screened Le Président. On April 4, there was a screening of his avant-garde political thriller Les Saignantes (2005). It premiered at the Toronto film festival and was nominated in two categories at the French Césars in 2009; it is now considered to be the first African sci-fi movie. His visit was supported by the UA’s Honors College, Africana Studies, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, French and Italian and Global Studies.


"Buddhist Studies: Past, Present, Future" with Lewis Lancaster

Defining Buddhist Studies has become more difficult as disciplinary structures are being questioned for relevance and accountability. In this April 6 lecture, Lewis Lancaster – professor emeritus at University of California Berkeley East Asian Languages Department – delved into questions like: Where should Buddhism be studied in a time when the literature is filled with "obituaries" of established practices and institutions? How important is it for the field to become a clearly mapped knowledge "territory?" Is it possible to conceive of an approach between scholars that is collabora­tive and even interdependent? Can knowledge produced in the context of application within the digital realm be accepted? This event was part of the Buddhist Studies Lecture Series sponsored by the UA College of Humanities, East Asian Studies, Religious Studies, School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the Confluencenter.


Fall 2015

Water Schemes in Arid Lands: Global Historical Perspective

The event took place on Sept. 15 and featured Sterling Evans (University of Oklahoma), Louis Warren (University of California, Davis) and Meredith McKittrick (Georgetown University). It was cosponsored by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry Director’s Fund for Excellence; Department of History; Southwest Center and the TRIF-funded Water, Environmental and Energy Solutions initiative co-managed by the Water Sustainability Program, Institute of the Environment and Renewable Energy Network.

An Evening of Deconstructing Chicano Satire

Award-winning satirist, artist, political cartoonist, hell-raiser and trailblazer Lalo Alcaraz visited Tucson for a special one-night only event at the YWCA, 525 N. Bonita Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 24. Sponsors included Raul E. Aguirre, YWCA Tucson, UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the UA Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

“Said with Buber: Versions of Binationalism”

The RelSec Initiative welcomed Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley, for a public lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Cosponsored by the English Department and the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry.


Music + Festival: Bernstein, Adams, Berio

The two-day event, presented and hosted by the Fred Fox School of Music, took place Oct. 17-18 and featured a symposium and concerts with vocal, chamber and major ensembles.


The Loft Film Fest 2015

Celebrating its sixth year in 2015, The Loft Film Fest is dedicated to showcasing the best independent, foreign and classic films, as well as celebrating the work of established and emerging directors, writers, producers and actors. Through its eclectic and diverse programming the festival aims to expand the audience for cinema that challenges, inspires and entertains, and also to honor those artists whose talent and passion bring that cinema to life.


Men with Guns: Cultures of Paramilitarism and the Modern Americas

The two-day symposium brought together an interdisciplinary group of premier scholars examining the prevalence of paramilitarization throughout the Americas on Nov. 12-13. It was organized and hosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with the support of the Ford Foundation and the Latin American Studies Association and with major support from College of Humanities, Africana Studies, Office of the Provost, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the Graduate College.


“Neoliberalism Contra Democracy: Ten Theses”

The RelSec Initiative hosted First Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley Wendy Brown on Dec. 9. The lecture was cosponsored by Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, Gender and Women’s Studies, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Government and Public Policy, School of Geography and Development, Religious Studies, English, Institute of LGBT Studies and College of Humanities.


Spring 2015

Tree Mortality through the Lens of Art and Science

Ellen McMahon, School of Art (CFA): By reanimating and creating prints from hemispheric photos of tree mortality in the pinon pine forests of New Mexico, McMahon’s project – part of the “Marking Time to a Changing Climate" exhibit at the University of Arizona’s Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building – aimed to change how audiences think and feel about climate change in the Southwest. Learn more about McMahon's work and the project in this UA News article and in this Proximities article.


Miranda Joseph Endowed Lecture by Paul Amar

Kristen Nelson, LGBT Studies (SBS)Paul Amar’s March 26, 2015 lecture articulated new approaches to the study of sexuality politics and police states by offering new ways to read and confront emergent forms of global power by examining the pivotal, trendsetting cases of Brazil and Egypt. Addressing gaps in the study of neoliberalism and biopolitics, Amar described how coercive security operations and cultural rescue campaigns confronting waves of resistance have appropriated progressive, anti-market discourses around morality, sexuality and labor. More details are here.


Oceans and Deserts: Charting Transdisciplinary Currents in Environment and Culture

Diane Richardson, German Studies (COH): The March 6-7, 2015 symposium provided an opportunity for interdisciplinary scholars from across campus to explore a spectrum of artistic and scientific modes of inquiry that incorporate national, international and multimodal discourses by looking at the mutual interrelation between culture and the environment as its object of study. The keynote speakers were University of Arizona's Dr. Joellen Russell, Dept. of Geosciences, and Dr. Eva Hayward, Dept. of Gender and Women's Studies.


The Poetics and Politics of Water: A Public Reading Series and Graduate Seminar

Larry Evers, English (COH): “The Poetics and Politics of Water” was a project organized at the University of Arizona by Professor Larry Evers and Regents Professor Ofelia Zepeda during the spring 2015 semester. The project included a series of four public readings, a public discussion of cultural, historical, and legal issues associated with water in American Indian communities and an interdisciplinary graduate seminar.


Scientific Tucsonan: Ipad App & Print Magazine for Interdisciplinary Science Journalism Course

Carol Schwalbe, School of Journalism (SBS): This next-generation iPad magazine and print publication showcased Schwalbe’s students’ interdisciplinary reporting in technology, natural history, and the environment, and it gave them an opportunity to take an overnight field trip to Biosphere 2 to report on science in action. Download the app via iTunes here.


Fall 2014

Digital Literacies in & beyond the L2 Classroom

Chantell Warner, German Studies (COH): The October 6-11, 2014 symposium explored the wide array of practices captured by the concept of digital literacies from social networking to gaming to fan fiction to micropublishing as they relate to particular circumstances of learning and living in a second or additional language and culture. It also included a roundtable, panel discussions and a keynote presentation: “Integrating Literacies Past, Present, and Future.” Details and videos are at


Conference on Human Rights

Eleni Hasaki, School of Anthropology (SBS):


Black Life Matters Conference

Monica Casper, Gender and Women’s Studies (SBS): Scholars, writers, artists, activists, policymakers and community members came together to discuss WHY Black life matters and WHAT can be done about sustained, racialized state violence. The conference included lectures, hands-on working sessions, performances and social justice actions. The Black Life Matters conference took place Jan. 15-17.


Hari Kondabolu, Social Justice Comic

Anamaria Ramirez,Graduate College (Admin): On Oct. 23, 2014, the Brooklyn-based, Queens-raised comic who the NY Times has called “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today” performed at the UA Gallagher Theater. Learn more about Hari at


Workshop on Structure & Constituency in Languages in the Americas

Heidi Harley, Linguistics (SBS): The UA hosted the 20th Anniversary meeting of this prestigious  international conference, the WSCLA, for the first time in the conference history. It featured keynote addresses by conference co-creator Rose-Marie Dechaine, University of British Columbia, and Charlotte Reinholtz, of Queen’s University. Cosponsored by Anthropology and American Indian Studies.


Bill Porter Lectures: Yellow River and the Heart Sutra

Zhao Chen, UA Confucius Institute: Red Pine, aka Bill Porter, gave two lectures. On Wednesday, Sept. 24 he presented a lectured at the Poetry Center focused on the long history of civilization along the Yellow River. Porter's talk was based on his recently released book "Yellow River Odyssey," a best-seller in China. On Thursday, Sept. 25, he gave a lecture on "The Heart Sutra" at the Student Union. These events were in conjunction with the 3rd Annual Chinese Cultural Festival. 


Community Platica with Ana Tijoux

Mari Galup, Gender and Womens Studies (SBS): Ana Tijoux – rapper, mother, and activist – performed at the Rialto Theatre on October 15, 2014 and on October 16, she engaged in a community conversation about politics, feminism, and the power of music to inspire social change. The platica was introduced by Alisha Vazquez and facilitated by Elva De La Torre, a volunteer DJ at KXCI, 91.3FM. The event was cosponsored by UA’s Gender and Women's Studies, the UA Graduate Association of Spanish and Portuguese (GASP) and the Earlham Border Studies Program. Follow Ana on her Facebook page or via Twitter.