Global Engagement

What are the roots of injustice? How do we heal a world that is more connected, yet more divided, than ever?

The global engagement component of the Brandeis Core explores social, political, cultural and linguistic diversity in the United States and the world by focusing on three thematic areas, listed below.

How to fulfill the global engagement requirements

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Difference and Justice in the World

Today’s world has been shaped by forces that cannot be understood without taking a broad global perspective.

Human experience has been influenced by the expansion of democracy; technological, environmental, moral and aesthetic changes; greater attention to the protection of human rights; and the improvement of economic conditions for many. However, progress has not been equal, and for many, circumstances have worsened.

Our world and its peoples continue to be deeply challenged by new forms of age-old problems. Religious, ethnic, racial, gender and sexual differences are used as grounds for persecution, exclusion and other forms of unequal treatment. The effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate already growing global economic inequality, food insecurity and competition for natural resources. These phenomena are interrelated with the legacy or colonialism; world, civil and regional wars; diasporic migration; and terrorism.

Difference and Justice in the World courses will allow students to focus on the social, cultural, political, environmental and economic diversity of human experience within the global/transnational context. Looking beyond singular or dominant understandings of the world, students will engage in the study of peoples outside the U.S., their histories, arts, cultures, politics, economies, environments and religions.

They will address problems such as:

  • The ways in which different cultures, societies and social groups define and express themselves and are defined by others.
  • How categories of difference are constructed, and how they intersect with one another.
  • The production and mediation of social and cultural power in different contexts.
  • The unequal effects of globalization and climate change on different cultures and groups in all spheres of human experience, across histories and geographies.
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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Studies in the U.S.

Contemporary U.S. society is marked by demographic and cultural changes that have both advanced and challenged the nation’s commitment to the realization of individuals unalienable rights as human beings.

Scientific, technological, legal, political and aesthetic developments have created significant opportunities throughout the U.S., even as they have also entrenched existing injustices. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Studies in the United States courses prepare students to engage with the dynamics, developments and divisions within U.S. society in the 21st century.

To be productive participants in a society undergoing significant ethnoracial, political, environmental and cultural change, students will need to understand the important role that a commitment to social justice has played in the advancement of the United States. They will also need to address the role that inequality has played in the country’s formation and continues to play in its development. Courses may draw on a variety of disciplinary approaches to address any of the following:

  • The critical study of race, class, gender, sex, disability, ethnicity, sexuality, age, color, nationality and religion, with a specific emphasis on historically marginalized populations.
  • The close assessment of laws, regulations, procedures, and policies that have enforced or opposed inequity and injustice.
  • The analysis of theories that explain, analyze or critique inequality.
  • The empirical examination of coalition and community-building, collaboration across difference and other practices aimed at increasing inclusion.
approved courses in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the U.S.
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World Languages and Cultures

The World Languages and Cultures requirement at Brandeis reflects a belief in the importance of understanding language — our own and the language of others — as central to society and culture.

The goal of this requirement, therefore, is to prepare students to understand better and to participate in a different culture by developing basic skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in another language.

Students satisfy the requirement by demonstrating an intermediate-level proficiency, which is usually achieved by successfully completing a third semester course (normally numbered in the 30s) or demonstrating equivalent proficiency.

Learning Goals

Exploration, Understanding, Pluralism: Spring 2020 Courses

At Brandeis, you are encouraged to learn about a wide variety of human societies, cultures, and countries and about causes and consequences of differences among racial, ethnic, religious, and other groups. Listed below are a sampling of the Spring 2020 courses that address these issues; we hope that you will consider including some of them in your studies. They are grouped under “Religion, Race, and Culture,” “Global Perspectives,” and “Gender and Sexuality” though naturally many of the courses intersect these groupings. For additional course offerings, please refer to the registrar’s website.

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Race, Religion and Culture

AAAS 131A: African Americans and Health

Examines African American health experiences from the 17th century to the present, with a focus on the strategies and practices used to improve their health. (ss)

W. Muigai
M, W 5:00-6:20 PM

AAAS 156A: #BlackLivesMatter

Explores the evolution of the modern African American civil rights movement through historical readings, primary documents, films and social media. Assesses the legacy and consequences of the movement for contemporary struggles for black equality. (ss)

C. Williams
M, W 3:30-4:50 PM

AAAS 157A: African American Political Thought

Examines the ideological and intellectual traditions that have influenced African American politics. Addresses the question of the best strategies for black Americans to pursue freedom and opportunity in the US. (deis-us, ss, wi)

A. Spry
T, Th 3:30-4:50 PM

AAAS 170A: Black Childhoods

Explores historical experiences of growing up black in the US. Examines the role of race in shaping experiences and meanings of childhood from slavery to the present. (ss, deis-us)

W. Muigai
W 9:00-11:50 PM

AMST 176 A: Southern California in the American Imagination

Examines the cultural history of Southern California compared to "visions" of the region that have been portrayed in literature, music, and visual arts. Considers why the topography, climate, economy, demographics, and culture are subjects for American artists. (ss)

M. Feeney
W 6:30-9:20 PM

ENG 48B: The Black Fantastic

An in-depth study of three major American authors of the twentieth century. Explores how these novelists narrate cross-racial, cross-gendered, cross-regional, and cross-cultural contact and conflict in the US. (deis-us, hum)

G. Everett
T, Th 2:00-3:20 PM

ENG 117A: The Harlem Renaissance

A major movement in African American literature, the Harlem Renaissance sought to redefine American blackness and establish artistic freedom. (deis-us, hum)

G. Everett
T, Th 5:00-6:20 PM

FA 75B: History of African American Art

This course examines how black artists in the U.S. explore beauty, individuality, justice and other themes through personal, racial, and societal lenses. (ca)

E. Tani
M, W 5:00-6:20 PM

GECS 185: Con-Artists, Anti-Semites, and Music Lovers: Modern German Fiction

What is the relation of aesthetic pleasure to racism, misogyny, and xenophobia? This course explores German narrative since 1955, focusing on the tension between art and reality. (hum)

S. Dowden
M, W 2:00-3:20 PM

HIST 151A: Conservatives and Liberals in Modern America: Race, Democracy, and History

Examines the history and politics surrounding ideas of "conservative" and "liberal" in the US, through the lens of race beginning in the post-World War II period. (ss, deis-us)

L. Wright Rigueur
W 2:00-4:50 PM

HIST 159B: Modern African American History

This course covers topics including: Reconstruction, segregation; the Great Migration; Civil Rights, Black Power, Black Feminist movements; black political power; mass incarceration and the surveillance state; and Hip Hop culture. (ss, deis-us)

L. Wright Rigueur
T, Th 2:00-3:20 PM

MUS 136B: Divas

This course will explore the complex image of the diva in Western culture from the Middle Ages to the present day-encompassing opera singers and pop stars, composers and castrati – and engage with thorny questions of gender, sexuality, race, class, and power. (ca)

E. Frey
T 9:00-11:50 AM

NEJS 125A: Just Communities and Neighborhoods in Talmudic Literature

Talmudic texts debate how to create communities led by trustworthy people with fair relations between neighbors. This course traces how the Babylonia Talmud featured legal reasoning and storytelling to address issues of space and authority in a community committed to justice. (hum)

L. Kaye
T 2:00-4:50 PM

NEJS 144A: Jews in the World of Islam

Examines social and cultural history of Jewish communities in the Islamic world. Special emphasis is placed on the pre-modern Jewish communities. (hum, nw)

J. Decter
T, F 11:00-12:20 PM

NEJS 190A: Introduction to Islamic Theology

An introduction to Islamic theology and intellectual tradition. After studying the formative period of the Prophet Mohammad's life, students examine the development of law, doctrines, beliefs, philosophy, and the diversity of thought in Islamic tradition. (hum)

C. El-Tobgui
T,Th 2:00-3:20 PM

NEJS 191A: The Bible and the Qur’an

The Qur'an retells many narratives of the Tanakh and the New Testament. Compares the Qur'anic renditions with those of the earlier scriptures, focusing on the unique features of the Qur'anic versions. (hum)

S. Dost
M,W 2:00-3:30 PM

RECS 100A: Russian Soul: Masterworks of Modern Russian Culture

Examines masterpieces of modern Russian culture in literature, film, philosophy, art, music, theater, opera and ballet. (dl,hum)

D. Powelstock
T, F 11:00-12:20 PM

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Global Perspectives

AAAS 151B: Africa: A Reggae Anthology

Draws on the genre of reggae music as a course of understanding how Africa, its people, its history, and its contemporary circumstances are imagined, understood, represented, and engaged by African descended people in Jamaica and in the broader African diaspora. (ss, djw, nwc)

C. Ray
T, F 11:00-12:20 PM

AAPI/HIS 186B: Legacies of the Korean War

Explores the lasting legacies and human consequences of the Korean War in a transnational context. Course culminates in a final digital oral history project. (deis-us, djw, ss)

Y. Doolan
T, F 11:00-12:20 AM

ANTH 31B: African Ways of Knowing

Surveys the diversity of knowledge production across Africa south of the Sahara. Participants consider multidisciplinary approaches to epistemological questions and how they become enacted in social life, with case studies drawn from West Africa, East Africa, and southern Africa. (ss, djw, nwc)

D. Bafford
M, W 2:00-3:20 PM

ANTH 115B: Borderlands: Space, Place, and Landscape

This seminar examines archaeological and ethnographic understandings of the relationships between culture, space, and landscapes with a particular focus on the political and social dynamics of borderlands. (ss)

C. Golden
T, Th 2:00-3:20 PM

CAST 110 B: Dance and Migration

Highlights the aesthetic, political, social, and spiritual potency of dance forms and practices as they travel, transform, and are accorded meaning both domestically and transnationally, especially in situations (or in the aftermath) of extreme violence and cultural dislocation. (ca)

T. Shapiro-Phim
T, Th 2:00-3:20 PM

HIST 140B: Charity and Poverty in Islamic Societies

Charity and poverty are universal aspects of human societies, culturally specific and historically contingent. This course studies charitable giving as a fundamental aspect of Muslim belief and practice, reflecting change over time and space, offering comparisons with non-Muslim societies. (ss, djw, nwc)

A. Singer
T, Th 2:00-3:20 PM

HIST 180B: Modern India: From Partition to Present

Examines the history, culture, and economy of modern India (1947-2019) with a focus on key concerns, such as the environment, urbanization, gender/sexual relations, and the transformations of democratic politics. (ss, djw, nwc)

A. Singh
T, Th 5:00-6:20 PM

IGS 140A: Styles of Globalization

Why do some countries benefit from globalization while others lag behind? How do different nations balance issues such as free trade, foreign investment, and workers' rights? This course considers the real-world choices behind success and failure in the global economy. (ss)

L. Goodhart
M, W 2:00-3:20 PM

IGS 175A: Digital Asia: Democracy in the Internet Age

This course analyzes the transformative potential of the internet as an agent of development and as a mechanism for disrupting social and political orders in Asia, home to the world’s largest democracy and also the world’s largest authoritarian regime. (ss, djw, nwc)

A. Singh
T, Th 2:00-3:20 PM

JAPN 150A: Desire and Morality in Early Modern Japanese Novels

Examines the short fiction of Ihara Saikaku, a 17th-century merchant writer from Osaka. Saikaku's novels and short stories insightfully and vividly explore such themes as homosexuality, vengeance, filial piety, jurisprudence, and the nouveau riche. All readings in English. (hum, nw)

M. Katsumata
T, F 12:30-1:50 PM

LALS 1A: Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies: History, Politics, and Culture

Provides a broad overview of the histories, cultures, and politics that continue to shape the Americas, from Tierra del Fuego to the United States. (nw, oc, ss)

R. Herr
M,W 3:30-4:50 PM

MUS 48B: “Love is the Message”: Dance Musics and their Cultures from Disco to Dubstep

Explores the history of contemporary dance music, from disco to dubstep, exploring concepts of authenticity, authorship, and appropriation, investigating intersections between music, culture, society, and politics. (ca)

M. Heck
M, W 3:30-4:50 PM

NEJS 143A: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain

Focuses on political and social development, intra-religious conflict, and intellectual and artistic production between religious communities. Investigates the degree to which Castilian culture can be described as "Christian" or as "Muslim-Christian-Jewish" in character. (djw, hum)
J. Decter
T, F 9:30-10:50 AM

NEJS 174A: Minorities and Others in Israeli Literature and Culture

An exploration of poetics and identity in modern Hebrew literature. By offering a feminist and psychoanalytic reading of various Hebrew texts, this seminar explores questions of personal and national identity, otherness, visibility, and marginality in the Israeli context. (fl, hum)

I.Szobel
M, W 3:30-4:50 PM

SOC 187A: Race, Health, and Medicine in the African Diaspora

Offers critical perspectives on race, medicine, health, and illness in the African Diaspora. Specifically, we explore how intertwining ideologies of race and gender have contributed to the (mis)management of illness and health in populations of African descent from the periods of slavery and colonization until the present day. (ss)

S. Suh
T,F 12:30 PM–1:50 PM

THA 150A: Global Theater: Voices from Asia, Africa, and the Americas

Explores dramatic literature and performance traditions from across the globe. Examines the ways various artists have engaged theater to express, represent, and interrogate diversity and complexity of the humans. (ca, wi, djw)

I. Wooden
M, W 2:00-3:20 PM

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Gender and Sexuality

AAAS/WGS 149A Black Privacy

Informed by recent work in Black feminist, queer, and trans studies, this course explores "Black privacy" and its various meanings and contours. How do we make legal claims to Black reproductive, informational, biomedical and domestic privacy? What is the erotic potentiality of Black privacy? (ss, deis-us)

S. Roach
MW,Th 12:00-12:50 PM

AAPI/WGS 126A: Asian American Women’s History

Explores race, gender, and U.S. history from the perspective of Asian American and Pacific Islander women. Course culminates in a final AAPI women's digital oral history project. (deis-us, ss)

Y. Doolan
T, F 9:30-10:50 AM

AMST 124B: Sex, Love, and Marriage in America

Ideas and behavior relating to love and marriage are used as lenses to view broader social patterns such as family organization, generational conflict, and the creation of professional and national identity. (ss)

K. McGinity
M 6:30-9:20 PM

ENG 137B: Women and War

Examines how African women writers and filmmakers use testimony to bear witness to mass violence. How do these writers resist political and sociocultural silencing systems that reduce traumatic experience to silence, denial, and terror? (hum, djw, nwc)

E. Diouf
T, F 11:00AM-12:20 PM

NEJS 129A: Gender, Sex, and Family in Ancient Near East and Beyond

In the ancient world, the family was a critical site for the construction of gender, sex, and sexuality of its members. Uses feminist and queer perspectives in reading texts from the ancient Near East, Greco-Roman world, Hebrew Bible, and New Testament. (hum)

S. Fein
M, W, Th 12:00-12:50 PM

NEJS 140B: Gender, Ghettos, and the Geographies of Early Modern Jews

Examines Jewish history and culture in early modern Europe: mass conversions on the Iberian peninsula, migrations, ghettos, gender, family, rabbinical culture and mysticism, messianic movements, Hasidism. (hum)

C. Freeze
T, F 11:00-12:20 PM

SQS 6B: Sexuality and Queer Studies

Examines cross-cultural and historical perspectives on sexual meanings, experiences, representations, and activist movements within contemporary critical theories of gender and sexuality. (djw, hum, ss)

V. Chaudhry
M, W, Th 1:00-1:50 PM

WMGS 128B: Transgender Health and Wellness

Explores transgender health and wellness, through a depathologizing, decolonizing, intersectional, and gender-affirming approach. Topics: gender health, social determinants of gender health, transgender representation in the media, health inequities within transgender communities. (ss)

B. Clark
T, Th 2:00-3:20PM

2019-20 Faculty Committees

DEIS-US and DJW Committee

Name Department
Harleen Singh, Chair German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature
Muna Guvenc Ospina Leon Fine Arts
Jeffrey Lenowitz Politics
Ilana Szobel (on leave Fall 2019) Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
Derron Wallace Education, Sociology

World Languages and Culture Committee

Name Language / Culture
Irina Dubinina, Chair Russian
Hisae Fujiwara Japanese
Hollie Harder French
Sara Hascal Hebrew
Ellen Kellman Yiddish
Hanan Khashaba Arabic
Eun-Jo Lee Korean
Xiwen Lu Chinese
Vinodini Murugesan English
Elena Gonzalez Ros Spanish
Kathrin Seidl German
Paola Servino Italian
J. Scott Van Der Meid Study Abroad
Cheryl Walker Greek, Latin