'DEIS Impact College

'DEIS Impact College - New in 2014!

Thursday February 6 – Friday February 7

Sherman Hall, Hassenfeld Conference Center

Sit 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. Join us for this showcase of academic engagement with social justice.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 

Social Justice and "Protest, Politics and Change: Social Movements" (SOC 155b)

With David Cunningham

10:00 - 10:50 am

Guest speaker Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, spoke to SOC 155b students and Waltham High School students about her death penalty activism in the context of the course title, “Protest, Politics and Change: Social Movements.” Describing her first day visiting a death row inmate in 1993, Sister Helen described herself as “a nun in over her head,” asking “What chance did I have of changing anything?” However, her work with inmates, her book, and the subsequent movie have focused national and even international attention on the death penalty. “Being kind in an unjust system is not enough,” Prejean noted.


Social Justice and "Comparative Study of Human Societies" (ANTH 1a) – CANCELLED

With Jonathan Anjaria

11:00 - 11:50 am


Social Justice and "Culture of Consumption" (SOC 150b)

With Laura Miller

12:00 - 12:50 pm

Consumer choices about where to shop, what to buy, and how much to consume have consequences for the environment, workers, communities, and social relations. Self-conscious decisions about consumption can be a way to promote social justice.


Social Justice and "World War 1" (HIST 137b)

With Paul Jankowski

1:00 - 1:50 pm

During World War I, race and class issues were sometimes literally perceived to be a matter of life and death. In some armies, for example, peasants made up the majority of the troops, and came to resent skilled soldiers sent home to work in munitions factories. However, class did not always align neatly with risk, as officers (often aristocrats) led the charge at the front. Meanwhile some soldiers of color resented being impressed into the service of their colonial rulers, while others only requested that they be allowed to serve.


Social Justice and "Health Economics" (HSSP 104b)

With Dominic Hodgkin

2:00 - 3:30 pm

In an ideal world, all would benefit from the best healthcare available. However, resources are limited, and policymakers face decisions about how to prioritize among alternative uses of health funding. Some prioritization approaches stress efficiency, such as maximizing the total health gain regardless of how it is distributed. Other approaches try to also consider equity in distribution of health resources.  These considerations force one to define what one is seeking to equalize, e.g. access, health outcomes or other variables.  Many of these issues can be illustrated by considering the allocation of scarce human organs among candidates for transplantation.


Social Justice and "Business in the Global Economy" (BUS 70a)

With Ricardo Lopez

3:30 - 4:50 pm

As modern firms cross national borders to find new markets and resources, their strategies are then shaped by the international economy and by the policies of national governments, with enormous implications for social justice across borders.


Social Justice and "International Economic Law" (LGLS 127b)

With Guive Mirfendereski

5:00 - 6:20 pm

Issues of international economic law intersect with social justice particularly in the area of balancing the good of the many – such as receiving low-cost generic pharmaceutical products – with the proprietary and economic interest of the holders of intellectual property rights to medical and biochemical innovations. “Compulsory licensing” has proven an effective tool in providing medication to disadvantage populations in the developing countries.


Social Justice and "Analyzing Big Data" (BUS 211f)

With Rob Carver

6:30 - 8:30 pm

“Privacy is the right to be left alone – the most comprehensive of rights, the right most valued by the people,” wrote Louis D. Brandeis himself in Dissent, Olmstead v. US in 1928. However, data mining and embedded mobile sensors raise ethical issues. The group examined two cases: "How Target Figured Out a Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did" and  "Snooping Garbage Bins in the City of London Ordered to be Disabled". Some feel that these practices are simply providing better customer service, and are no different from market segmentation – advertising certain products on TV shows likely to appeal to the demographic of the typical viewer. But others feel that such practices transcend the consumer consent offered, bordering on unethical as well as “creepy” and deceptive.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Social Justice and "Nature, Nurture, and Public Policy" (SOC 176a)

With Peter Conrad

9:30 - 11:00 am

Among the issues at the heart of “Nature, Nurture and Public Policy” are issues of sex and gender. Transgender and intersex individuals raise a host of social questions, such as which tennis tournament one can enter (men or women?), which gym class, which bathroom, etc. At the core is the social justice question of how much right individuals have to choose their gender in a society ordered on the binary, and what equal access to resources looks like in such a society. Case studies were considered such as Christine Jorgensen, Renee Richards, Michelle Kosilik, David Reimer, and others.


Social Justice and "Power and Violence: The Anthropology of Political Systems" (ANTH 156a)

With Elizabeth Ferry

11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Using theories of Italian political theorist and social thinker Antonio Gramsci, Prof. Ferry unpacked the hegemony implicit in popular culture. For example, the beloved American image of Johnny Appleseed evokes a wholesome, loving, simple poor man who “loved the Indians,” as is often noted in biographies. However, Appleseed’s life of planting orchards as he wandered west assumes the appropriateness of white European settlers’ Western expansion. However, Gramsci's view of hegemony also leaves room for projects to build consent that undermines prevailing circumstances, as in the song "How Bad Can I Be?" in the film The Lorax. The movie uses the Johnny Appleseed figure to critique U.S. capitalist exploitation, the economic theories of the rational market, and the benefits of self-interest, thus promoting an environmentalist message.