Meet the Director


Avi Bernstein

Avi Bernstein comes to Brandeis with extensive experience in higher education administration, teaching and research. He has taught undergraduate courses at Boston College and Rutgers University, and graduate courses at Boston’s Hebrew College. He brings a wealth of experience in teaching adults, and has, since 1995, been active in the adult learning movement, adapting a highly interactive version of the traditional graduate humanities seminar for synagogues, civic organizations, and parlor meetings. 

His academic work reflects longstanding interests in the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism and its legacy; Anglo-American moral philosophy from R.M. Hare and Iris Murdoch to Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor; and philosophy of education in the practical spirit of educational theorists like Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. His essays have appeared in Hermann Cohen’s Ethics (Brill 2006), Religious Studies Review, and the Yearbook of the Leo Baeck Institute, and his teaching has touched on subject areas throughout the humanities: recent courses have included forays into Russian Literature (Brothers Karamazov, Doctor Zhivago, Mikhail Bakhtin), Secular and Liberal Jewish Thought (Chaim Zhitlovsky, Mordecai Kaplan, Phillip Roth), and American Pragmatism (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Ellison, Jeffrey Stout). 

In addition to his work in higher education, Avi spent a number of years teaching English at the secondary level in Newton, Hyde Park, and Waltham. He holds a degree, magna cum laude, in philosophy from Brown University, and a PhD from Stanford in Religion, where he wrote a dissertation on philosopher Hermann Cohen. For fun and a good workout, he coaches youth basketball, and practices Bikram Yoga. Avi lives in Newton Highlands with his wife and their four children.