For more information on these courses: check the course listings at

2018 Schedule [PDF]

'DEIS Impact College is a collaboration with the Center for Teaching and Learning.

'DEIS Impact College Summaries 2018

Attendees sat in on open sessions of courses taught by faculty representing a range of disciplines but one common goal: grounding college students' passion for changing the world in solid theory. 

All were invited to experience a Brandeis class as part of 'DEIS Impact College. Some of our renowned professors welcomed all to attend an open session of their classes on contemporary, often controversial topics. It was a great showcase of academic engagement with social justice, without the homework!

Location: All classes were held in the Shapiro Campus Center Multipurpose Room.

Thursday, February 8:

Conquests, Resistance, and Cultural Transformation in Mexico and Central America, 2:00-3:20 p.m., an open session of the anthropology course ANTH 119a with Charles Golden.conquests

The dual narrative surrounding the colonial history of Mexico and Central America presents compelling contrasts. On the one hand, the colonial narrative is described as a conquest, in which indigenous people and Spanish cultures are in conflict and wherein one has to be defeated and one has to win. The narrative is also framed as a battle between Christianity and Paganism, in line with the Crusaders, in which Paganism is seen as "falling backward" or a form of rebellion. On the other hand, the indigenous narrative describes the history as an attempt to extinguish their culture, a tragedy of immeasurable scope, and subjugation under colonial rule. While the Spanish narrative was taken from letters to the king of Spain from Mexico and Central America, the indigenous narratives often emerged in petitions to the Spanish king, through engagement with Spanish priests, or through community recollections. The vilification of one side or another in this historical period – seeing themselves as conquerors for a greater good or defenders of noble tradition – has modern implications, asking us to remain open to many points of view. Camille Chuaquico contributed to this report. Camille is a MBA/MA Sustainable International Development candidate '18.

International Environmental Conflict & Collaboration, 3:30-4:50 p.m., an open session of the environmental studies course ENVS 118b with Charles Chester.conflict

Belgian colonial history in the Congo provides a case study of the inextricable nature of sustainability and human rights. Human rights atrocities, regardless of how they are labeled, are always both environmental and political. The far-reaching topics of human rights, security, and sustainability cannot be considered independently of all of the others. Through in-depth analysis of human rights treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, Chester examined the political view of human rights as one largely unable to articulate the synonymy of environmental and human rights issues. “Will we come to see climate change as the 21st century’s most egregious violation of human rights?” Despite such difficult topics, he maintains a sense of humble openness and humor, sharing his unabashed passion for bats and wildlife conservation, and even sharing the description of King Leopold of Belgium as "the Darth Vader of Africa." Those in attendance found themselves chuckling and smiling, but also reconsidering nature and that which makes us human. Hannah Muhlfelder ‘20 contributed to this report.

Slavery in the Roman World, with its modern implications, 5:00-6:20 p.m., an open session of the classical studies course CLAS 192B with Bernadette Brooten. slavery

Persons opposing torture today can benefit from examining how Roman emperors and legal elites thought about it. Knowing this history helps us to ask better questions and look for otherwise overlooked patterns. Romans generally reserved torture for enslaved persons, because they believed that only torture would elicit truth from them. In the Roman Empire, high ranking citizens would never be beaten or whipped, but the lowest ranking citizens could be, and free non-citizens could be beaten, whipped, and tortured. When announcing that slaveholders need not fear prosecution if their enslaved laborers died from a punishment, an emperor might present the Romans as civilized in contrast to the barbaric punishments of others. Even though Romans practiced torture, some questioned its efficacy. In comparison, Bush-era legal experts defined torture so narrowly that only actions resulting in, e.g., organ failure or long-term mental health problems, would count. In so doing, one contrasted U.S. practices with barbarous ones undertaken by others. While the contexts differ greatly, both systems legally allowed very significant human suffering and harm, while contrasting themselves with barbaric ones. This, even as experts still disagree about torture’s effectiveness. Hana Erkou contributed to this report. Hana is a MS/MBA Marketing Concentration candidate ’19.

Friday, February 9:

Sustainable Economic Development Strategies, 9:00-11:50 a.m., an open session of the graduate level Heller School course HS 289F with Nader Habibi and Can Erbil.

The world is full of many different societies and countries that at the core seem similar, but will have vastly different economic effects when asked to make the same institutional reforms. As Professor Erbil said, "Some things we define as good can actually be bad because of secondary and tertiary effects." For example, the Malthusian model of economic growth suggests limiting population growth, so as not to deplete resources. The Kramerian model states the opposite: having many children means that the chances are better for producing a genius who will solve the world’s problems in ways that might be completely unanticipated. We are seeing the political limits of globalization in today’s world, with the suggested US/Mexico wall, Brexit, and the worldwide refugee crisis. But global inequality is increasing, with some benefits for many of the world’s poor and super-rich, but with nearly no movement in the middle class in decades. Charlotte Spada contributed to this report. Charlotte is a Post-Bac Pre-Med ’18.

Conservative Political Thought, 12-1:50 p.m., an open session of the politics course POL 187B with Bernard Yack. 

Read the article in The Justice.

DIcollegeWhat does social justice looks like within a conservative framework? Conservatism is not necessarily void of social justice; rather it takes a different approach than modern day liberals. Nobel Prize-winning Austrian political economist Friedrich Hayek claims that social justice is a mirage and actually gets in the way of justice itself by elevating someone to social power to enforce equity, thereby reinforcing inequality. We can look at social justice in two ways: 1. a system in which everyone is where they are meant to be, based on the skills or needs they have, or 2: one in which people’s rights and property are protected from the theft of others. These two frameworks clearly clash with one another and ask us to consider whether justice is about making sure everyone has what we believe they rightfully deserve to have or to conserve what they already own. Lizy Dabanka ’20 contributed to this report.