To further Brandeis University’s mission by creating a community of journalists, students, and scholars that can serve as a public watchdog—seeking the truth, revealing injustices, and exposing abuses of power, while holding the powerful accountable, giving voice to the voiceless, and acting as a catalyst for social and political debate and reform.
About the Institute
The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, the nation’s first investigative reporting center based at a university, was launched in 2004 to help fill the void in high-quality public interest and investigative journalism. As one of the pioneers in the new nonprofit journalism, our goals are to investigate significant social and political problems and human rights issues, and uncover corporate and government abuses of power. Founded by longtime investigative journalist and editor Florence Graves, the Schuster Institute is among just a handful of independent reporting centers in the United States focused on local, national, and international issues—and the only one whose central focus is social justice and human rights.
Our impact journalism model. We practice “impact journalism.” Our small staff of experienced journalists tackles in-depth reporting projects—and takes the results public via broadcasts, web magazines, and popular and thought-leader publications that help set the public agenda. We disseminate our findings by writing op-ed articles and commentaries based on our reporting; by distributing our work via social media, blogs, and listservs; and by discussing our work on radio, on television, and in public forums. On our website, we post key documents, source materials, and related discussions, organized in ways that enable concerned citizens and policymakers to examine the underlying facts and issues for themselves.
Academic freedom. By being housed within a university, the Institute is firmly placed within an academic tradition that honors freedom of inquiry. Brandeis University, with its longstanding dedication to social justice, human rights, and the pursuit of truth wherever that might lead, is the ideal host. While we do not teach courses, we hire and mentor students as research assistants, overseeing them as they do investigative reporting legwork. This apprenticeship system plunges students into real-life journalism, teaching the urgency of thorough and accurate research and of critical thinking about public issues.
Our funders. The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism is named for philanthropists Elaine and Gerald Schuster, whose gifts enabled the Institute’s launch. Support for our Justice Brandeis Innocence Project and our Ethics & Justice Fellowships comes from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
Our areas of investigation. The Schuster Institute's primary focus is on social justice and human rights issues, roughly organized into three ongoing research projects or “beats”:
- The Political & Social Justice Project takes on the media’s traditional watchdog role, investigating abuses of government and corporate power, which often intersect.
This project includes a special focus on Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery, one of the great human rights abuses of our time.
- The Justice Brandeis Innocence Project uses investigative reporting techniques to probe cases in which inmates may have been wrongfully convicted of murder and/or rape, in large part because of race and class—and includes cases with or without DNA to test.
- The Gender & Justice Project exposes injustices, biases, and abuses that are harming women and children, and are still not being fully or accurately reported.
Our fellowships. In addition, the Institute sponsors Ethics & Justice Investigative Journalism Fellowships. Through these affiliations, we collaborate with highly qualified and motivated investigative reporters as they pursue additional stories of significant public interest, on subjects related to our core projects.