Concepts of justice play a profound role in clarifying human needs for health and well-being. Such basic social problems as inequality, poverty, and discrimination pose a constant challenge to policies that serve the health and income needs of children, families, people with disabilities, and the elderly. The public response to such problems, in America and elsewhere, rests on contested definitions of social obligation and social citizenship. The Program in Social Justice and Social Policy examines these essential connections between social values and practical policies. It unites elements in liberal arts study to bridge the analytic gap between ends and means. It also brings together an unusually broad spectrum of faculty and curriculum--combining the academic perspectives of Arts and Sciences departments with professional expertise from The Heller Graduate School. Students are encouraged to explore policy areas in concrete detail, focused variously on particular groups (children, the elderly, people with disabilities) or particular services (health care, income support). Students can also select courses that deal thematically with problems of social equity (poverty, discrimination), as well as courses that approach social justice from historical, philosophical, and comparative perspectives. Key elements of the program include a foundation course, a capstone course, and a research-based internship in a social policy setting.
The concern with social justice speaks to the core educational commitments of Brandeis University. This program does not seek to promote a particular ideological agenda, but rather to spark creative thinking about complex social problems. It carries the search for norms and principles into the wider arena of practical experience. By providing models for critical reflection, it challenges students to articulate their own value commitments in a spirit of constructive debate.
How to Become a Program Member
The Program in Social Justice and Social Policy (SJSP) is open to all Brandeis undergraduates. Students may begin the program at any time, but are encouraged to complete the foundation course within the first two years of study. To enroll in the program, fill out the declaration forms from the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and meet first with one of the members of the program committee. A program advisor will then be assigned by the director to help you plan your course of study, including the timing of the internship/independent research, and capstone requirements.
Richard Gaskins, Codirector
(Legal and American Studies)
Robert Reich, Codirector
George Ross, Codirector
(Politics and Sociology)
Requirements for the Program
A. The foundation course SOC 123b (Crisis of the Welfare State). Normally this course will be taken within the first two years of study. It is strongly recommended as an introduction to the program, but is not a formal prerequisite for other courses.
B. Students must complete any three elective courses from those listed below. Electives are grouped into topical fields, but students may choose courses from any group. No more than two electives from The Heller School or from any single department may be counted toward program requirements.
C. Either (1) internship, arranged through the program office and the correlative seminar SJSP 92a or 92b; or (2) an independent research course (SJSP 98a or 98b), directed by a member of the program committee, or by another faculty member with the approval of the program director.
D. The capstone seminar POL 159a (Politics of the Modern Welfare State). Normally this course will be taken in the final year of study.
E. No more than two courses may be double-counted for this program and for a particular concentration.
Courses of Instruction
SJSP 92a and b Social Justice and Social Policy Internship and Seminar
Prerequisite: SOC 123b, or permission of the instructor. Signature of the program director required.
Biweekly seminar and supervised internship in a public agency or nonprofit organization. Time commitments depend on the site, up to a maximum of two days per week. In cooperation with the Brandeis faculty advisor and the internship site supervisor, students will complete an individual research project. Internships must be arranged through the program administrator. Usually offered every year.
SJSP 98a and b Social Justice and Social Policy Independent Research
Prerequisite: SOC 123b or permission of the program director. Signature of the program director required.
Guided readings and research on an independent topic that builds upon and integrates the particular course work completed in the SJSP Program. Research may be directed by a member of the program committee, or by another faculty member with the approval of the program director. Usually offered every semester.
Politics of the Modern Welfare State
Crisis of the Welfare State
Aging and Disability Policy
Long Term Care
Aging in Society
Sociology of Disability
Democracy and Social Justice
Varieties of Freedom, Liberty, and Choice
Social Context of Policy Issues
Democracy and Disobedience
Dynamics of Discrimination and Inequality
Economics of Discrimination and Inequality
Paradox of Wealth and Poverty
Law and Society: Race and Class
Law and Social Welfare
Family and Child Policy
Children and Youth at Risk
Sociology of Education
Health Care Policy
American Health Care
American Health Care: Law and Policy
Caring in the Health Care System
Health, Community, and Society
Historical and Comparative Perspectives on Social Justice
Economy and Society in Africa
Justice Brandeis and Progressive Jurisprudence
Social History of the United States 1860-Present
Nature, Nurture, and Public Policy