An Alum's Thoughts on EL

An Excerpt from One Lawyer’s Take on “Experiential Learning”
Jules Bernstein, '57 - Keynote Speaker, 2010 Experiential Learning Symposium, March 18, 2010

There are several useful principles that I have tried to impart to interns from the get-go:

1. Expect to make mistakes.

2. Learn not only from your mistakes but also from your defeats and losses. Do not be

3. Do not hesitate to ask questions because you believe you will expose your ignorance.

4. Be dogged in doing research. There may be a case right around the next corner that
will change your entire perspective. Do not think that your first answer is the
ultimate answer. Be prepared to change your mind. Test your conclusions carefully.
And try to see and understand the other side’s case better than it does, so that you are
fully prepared to meet it head on.

These are but a few of many such principles that I have tried to impart as a mentor.

Let me offer one concluding comment.

The impact of experiential learning is life-lasting. For the most part, younger people are
trying to look to their futures and are working on creating their lives and themselves. Experiential
learning is an important building block in this process.

To conclude, experiential learning is an essential element of lifetime learning and must be
respected and applied as such.

History and Rationale


History of EL at Brandeis

In January 2005, Brandeis launched Learning by Doing: Deepening Liberal Arts Education through Experiential Learning, an initiative funded by a two and a half year grant from the Davis Educational Foundation. The project built upon the Brandeis mission of offering "a broad and critical education enriching the lives of students and preparing them for full participation in a changing society, capable of promoting their own welfare, yet remaining deeply concerned about the welfare of others".  It focuses on developing the elements necessary for high quality experiential learning – experience, reflection, analysis and assessment – and on the creating the infrastructure necessary to sustain these elements.  Part of that support comes from the EL Faculty Mini-Grants  awarded to help offset costs incurred while incorporating experiential methods in existing or emerging courses. 

The initiative was coordinated by a committee of faculty and staff members who specialize in specific areas of experiential learning. The committee is chaired by Adam Jaffe, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  The Learning By Doing initiative was so successful and fit so closely with Brandeis' goals that at the end of the grant's run, the committee opted to continue the initiative with the university providing administrative and financial support.


What is experiential learning?

How does it work?

Where did it develop?

Contemporary Topics & Developments in the Field

Experiential Education Resources

National Society for Experiential Education 


John Dewey

David A. Kolb

Kurt Lewin

Jean Piaget