2019 Seed Grants



  • Most researchers will admit that a significant proportion of their discoveries, ideas, and achievements are the direct or indirect result of a series of chance events and encounters that occur outside of any describable formal structure.
  • This group explored the concepts of 'serendipity' and 'epiphany' (in its colloquial, secular sense) in scientific research and discourse
  • A first step was a "mini-conference" for researchers to present and discuss ideas and stories. 
  • The goal was not to instrumentalize or exploit the concepts of serendipity and epiphany, but rather to protect them and the conditions that allow them to flourish.


  • Yuan Yi (Graduate Student; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures)


  • The project investigated the meaning of craft in postindustrial society, where manufacturing, the long-time opponent to craft, no longer constitutes a major economic sector.
  • A one-day interdisciplinary conference was held at Columbia in December 2019 that brought together practitioners, activists, and scholars whose work centers around craft, technology, and the economy.
  • The first two sessions raised critical questions about the relationship between craft and machine, the utility of “old” technologies, and the sustainability of craft in today’s American market.
  • The other sessions considered the cases of Asian countries from a comparative perspective, with an emphasis on the intangible cultural heritage system, the question of cultural diversity, and ethical consumer behaviors as a driving force in the craft industry.