2019-20 Panels and Participants

truth graphic

A required part of the Brandeis Core, the First Year Experience includes a series of “Critical Conversations” based around a theme to introduce students to our academic community, to model the different types of intellectual inquiries available on the university campus, to create a shared experience and to invite students to think and talk about issues that are central to their educational development and the world around them.

The theme for the 2019-20 academic year was "Truth."

collage comprising poem by Emily Dickenson, The Treachery of Images by Magritte, a photo series by Muybridge, and a cellular image.
Truth, or Your Truth? A Scientist and a Humanist on Facts, Data and Evidence (virtual event)

March 18, 2020

Materials are available to accompany this panel discussion.

Does evidence make something true? Is evidence even a necessary component of truth? The way we talk about what is real and what is true depends on perspective and context. The way we are trained to think and write can change what we think is true. This conversation pairs humanities and science faculty in a debate about the relationship between facts, truth and reality, and how evidence differs widely in different disciplines.

Participants

Moderator

Watch Video

"Truth, or Your Truth? A Scientist and a Humanist on Facts, Data and Evidence"

two geometric shapes with embedded with orange, red and blue images, set atop pencil illustrations of roman statuary.
Fiddling While Rome Burns: Understanding Humankind's Response to Climate Threat

November 5, 2019

Location: Sherman Function Hall

Experts were aware of the destructive consequences of human-caused climate change long before the general public was — or accepted this as fact. Even as the public has gradually come to acknowledge the effects of climate change, action to prevent large-scale loss of life and livelihoods has barely begun. How does such a collision of human knowledge and inaction arise? What individual and societal changes are necessary to reduce the impending disaster?

Participants

  • Paul Miller, Associate Professor of Biology
  • Sabine von Mering, Professor of German and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Director of the Center for German and European Studies

Moderator

Watch Video

"Fiddling While Rome Burns: Understanding Humankind's Response to Climate Threat"

two triangles with embedded images referencing theatre, issues of representation, and topography atop a screened-back image of Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Perspectives on Truth from Psychological Science

October 23, 2019

Location: Sherman Function Hall

Is truth personal? Or cultural? What happens when your truth collides with someone else's? Is there empirical evidence for truth? Psychology faculty discuss individual and cultural perspectives on “truth,” and how current theoretical foundations in psychology define it.

Participants

Moderator

Watch Video

"Don't Believe Everything You Think: Perspectives on Truth From Psychological Science"

a triangle with embedded with national symbol of the eagle atop a screened-back image of a W.E.B. DuBois infographic.
Identity Matters: Academic Inquiry and Truth

October 3, 2019

Location: Shapiro Campus Center Theater

How does who we are affect what we see in the world? How does our identity (as male, female, person of color, LGBTQ, etc.) shape our view of the truth? In this conversation, professors Harleen Singh and Chad Williams discussed how studies in literature, gender and race have reshaped the academy and how their own experiences inform the way they think and talk about the world.

Participants

  • Harleen Singh, Associate Professor of Literature and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Chad Williams, Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Chair in History and African and African American Studies

Moderator

Watch Video

"Identity Matters: Academic Inquiry and Truth"