Brandeis Seminars in Humanities and the Professions

Programs on values and ethics for judges and other professional groups, using literature as the basis of discussion.


Professionals in every field face a formidable array of moral and practical dilemmas. Yet the pressures of the modern work environment seldom permit people to listen to one another and to discuss issues of common concern.

The Brandeis Seminars bring individuals together to examine urgent questions of professional values and ethics. The starting points for these discussions are short works of classic and contemporary literature. Stories, novellas, and plays engage intellectual and emotional resources that professionals frequently fail to draw upon in the context of their daily work. Reflecting together, professionals build the vital links among peers and colleagues that stimulate creativity and achievement.


The Brandeis Seminars began as the Humanities and the Professions Program at Brandeis University in 1981. More than 350 seminars have been held, serving more than 7,000 professionals in 35 states and four foreign countries.

Major funders of the program have included the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Exxon Foundation, and the State Justice Institute. In 1995, the program was selected by the Massachusetts Foundation for the humanities as the outstanding project funded by the foundation for the past 20 years.

Whom We Serve

Brandeis Seminars generally serve two kinds of groups: peer and organizational. Peer groups, such as judges, teachers, or physicians, have common professional concerns but tend to have few opportunities to interact meaningfully with colleagues. Alternatively, organizational groups unite professionals from a variety of levels within an organization (such as a law firm or a corporation) who may work together regularly, but who welcome the chance to reflect together on the demands of professional life.