Spring 2015 Courses


Supported by the Ethics Center

ANTH 140a – Human Rights in Global Perspective
Instructor: Leigh Swigart, Director of  Programs in International Justice and Society
Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00pm to 6:20pm

Over the past six decades, a complex international legal regime has been developed with the aim of ensuring the worldwide respect of human rights. This course will approach the multi-faceted field of human rights with the discipline of anthropology as a point of departure, weighing the arguments of the human rights movement, which seeks the recognition of universal norms that transcend political and cultural difference, with those of anthropology, which seeks to explore and analyze the great diversity of human cultural life. To what extent can these two goals be reconciled? Students will examine human rights, both in theory and practice, through the lens of a number of conceptual binaries: universal/relative, global/local, international guarantees/national implementation, state as protector of human rights/state as violator of human rights, and legal remedies for rights/social provision of rights. Students will read about, discuss and analyze a wide range of human rights areas, legal mechanisms and cases, including those pertaining to gender and women’s rights, indigenous peoples, the environment, business, international criminal justice, the “responsibility to protect” and the war on terror.

CAST 150b – Introduction to Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation
Instructor: Cynthia Cohen, CAST co-chair and Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts
Time: Tuesdays, 2:00pm to 4:50pm

How can music, theater, poetry, literature, and visual arts contribute to community development, coexistence, and nonviolent social change? In the aftermath of violence, how can artists help communities reconcile? Students explore these questions through interviews, case studies, and projects. Usually offered every year. This is the core course for the minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST). More about CAST.

May not be taken for credit by students who took PAX 250b in prior years. Open to undergraduates and graduate students

EL 94a  – The Immigrant Experience in Waltham: A Service-based Practicum
Instructor: Marci McPhee, Associate Director, International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life
Time: Wednesdays, 1 PM - 1:50 PM

This is a 2-credit course that may be taken in conjunction with or following one of several base courses, which change each semester. This supplemental practicum is designed to provide students with hands-on experience with community work and applying some of the frameworks and analysis methods they are learning about in the base course. The practicum is also intended to provide students with an opportunity to realize a social justice aim by collaborating with an organization that is addressing needs of immigrants, and other social justice/social policy issues of interest to the student.

Hands-on community work (3 hours/week) may include opportunities such as: Tutoring immigrant mothers and/or their preschool children learning English at Waltham Family School, Moody Street OR: Supporting technology access for underserved populations at Charles River Public Internet Center, Moody Street OR: Assisting with programs for homeless individuals and those in need at Community Day Center, off Moody Street (Spanish speakers especially needed). In addition to volunteering with immigrants, participants will meet weekly as a group (1 hour/week) to reflect on their learning, and will complete written and oral assignments that connect their community experiences with the frameworks and analytical methods of their base course.

Advocacy for Policy Change

LGLS 161b – Advocacy for Policy Change
Instructor: Melissa Stimell
Time: Block H - Tuesdays and Fridays, 11:00 AM to 12:20 PM

This is an experiential learning course. This hands-on course invites students to address concrete social problems through public policy reform. It provides background in theories, advocacy skills, networks, and key players that drive the legislative process. Focusing on policy change at the statehouse level, students engage with elected officials and community organizations to advance key legislation affecting social welfare, health, education, and economic justice. Usually offered every year.

There are no prerequisites. This course is open to all undergraduates, but requires a registration code. Interested students should email the Legal Studies Program administrator at goellner@brandeis.edu for the registration code before early registration.

Priority is given to juniors and seniors and those students majoring or minoring in Politics, Legal Studies and Social Justice and Social Policy. This course can satisfy the internship requirement for Legal Studies, HSSP, and SJSP. Students can contact Professor Stimell with additional questions at stimell@brandeis.edu.

Read "Advocacy for Policy Change" – the anthology from the Spring 2014 session [PDF]

POL 197a - The Supreme Court ColloquiumSupreme Court columns
Instructors: Daniel Kryder and Jeffrey A. Lenowitz
Time: Tuesdays, 2:00 PM -4:50 PM

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Yields half-course credit. May be repeated once for credit. Two semesters of POL 197a are required to fulfill the social science distribution requirement.

Intensive interdisciplinary study of the Supreme Court, with a particular emphasis on its current docket. After introducing students to the procedures of Supreme Court decision-making, the clash of interpretive methods, and the ebb and flow of the breadth and depth of the court’s power, the course will evaluate select cases from the 2014-2015 docket in real time, focusing on, among other things, social and political origins, institutional factors, legal argument and advocacy, and likely rulings and their possible effects. The Colloquium will also host numerous distinguished speakers to present on individual cases. Special yearlong offering in 2014-2015.