UDR Recognition Prize
Each semester, the School of Arts and Sciences awards UDR Recognition Prizes to those Undergraduate Departmental Representatives who have spearheaded exemplary UDR-sponsored events, programs and initiatives.
Recipients and a faculty member of their choice can select a book, with a maximum value of $20, that they would both want to read. The UDR program will order a copy of the book for each of them and have it mailed to the recipient and faculty member.
Fall 2020 Recipients
Education UDRs: Bridget Cifuni, Darcy Howell, Jacob Mitchell, Luca Swinford, Sophie Brill WeitzEducation Initiatives
- Student Survey: The Education UDRs disseminated a survey to the students of the Education Program Listserv to best assess the needs of the students. They obtained feedback about what kinds of events and activities they would be interested in attending during the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey was an extremely valuable guide to the UDRs in tailoring events to meet the interests of the students.
- Education Program Facebook Student Group: The Education UDRs launched a Facebook group for prospective and current Education program students as a means to connect with one another and share general content related to Education as well as Brandeis’ Education academic programs. The Facebook group serves as a resource hub and a central community for students involved in Education.
- Education Program Newsletter: The Education UDRs created a monthly newsletter for students engaged in the Education Program. The newsletter contains information about upcoming events, surveys, and faculty interviews.
- Faculty Interviews: One component of the Education Program Newsletter was student-led interviews with Education faculty. In these interviews, faculty discuss their expertise, career, research, and important issues in Education. These interviews were beneficial in that they provided an opportunity for students to hear directly from Education faculty, as well as strengthened the Education program community by helping students become more familiar with Education professors.
- Education Movie Night Event: A movie night in which students watched and discussed the documentary film Passion to Teach. This served as a community building event by bringing students interested in Education together for an academic, thought-provoking discussion.
- Student Conversations in Education: An event designed to give students the space to discuss their experience with education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students that were teaching in schools virtually were able to provide insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting students’ learning and teachers’ ability to teach.
- Explore the Education Program’s Majors and Minors: An event for Brandeis students to speak with UDRs and faculty about the Education Program. Both prospective and current Education program students benefitted from familiarizing themselves with the faculty and UDRs who serve as resources for them. Additionally, students were able to get answers to questions about classes, requirements, declaring majors and minors, and career advice. Students were able to enter break out rooms specifically tailored toward their interest within the field of Education.
Philosophy UDRs: Jacob Knauer, Alex Kougasian, Jessica Wei
- UDR Introduction YouTube Video: The Philosophy UDRs recorded a video introducing themselves and their roles that they serve in the department, as well as explaining future events they had planned. The video was an effective way to engage prospective and current Philosophy Department students. It aimed to make students aware and comfortable turning to the UDRs as resources. Philosophy professors shared the video with their classes to increase the number of students that would view the video.
- Philosophy Event Interest Survey: A survey to the Philosophy department with five specific aims: First, to gauge interest in events and resources such as Socrates Café, workshops, a departmental podcast, etc.; Second, to find out availability and preferences for the logistical elements of events; Third, to collect discussion suggestions for Socrates Café; Fourth, to gather students’ thoughts about which courses they would like to have offered; Fifth, to collect general feedback for the Philosophy Department. The UDRs utilized this survey in planning events and passed the relevant information about courses along in a meeting with Philosophy faculty.
- Socrates Café: A biweekly informal discussion group for undergraduate and graduate students focused on a different theme each week, such as Criminal Justice, the Problem of Evil, and the Meaning of Life. The first several meetings were held virtually over zoom, but in an effort to increase participation the UDRs coordinated an in-person session with pizza.
- Elections, Rational Choice, and Paradox of Voting: This Socrates Café meeting was centered around why it is people vote, and why one might believe that votes don't matter. Several questions were discussed such as: If the personal costs of voting are high while the chance of an individual impacting the outcome of an election is small, why do people vote? Why should people vote, even if the choice seems irrational? How might you convince someone that voting matters? The UDRs invited both students and professors from the Philosophy Department, Economics Department, and Politics Department. The session bore a high-energy discussion with nearly every person contributing. The discussion greatly benefited from inviting professors and students from other departments whose interests aligned with the topic.
- Utilitarianism: This Socrates Café meeting focused on utilitarianism; the ethical doctrine that is built onto the qualification and maximization of happiness. Posed questions include: Is pleasure quantifiable? Should a moral system incorporate the intent of the actor rather than merely analyzing the consequences of their actions? What do you think of the real life extension of utilitarianism: Effective Altruism? The UDRs invited an Oxford student to join the high-energy and fruitful discussion.
- Philosophy Paper Writing Workshop Series: A writing workshop series to assist students with improving their philosophy papers. Philosophy professors and PhD students presented in these workshops for current undergraduate students, some geared towards into-level students, and others for more advanced students of philosophy.
- Philosophy Resource Folder: Created a Google Drive resource folder that contains paper writing guidelines, Socrates Café discussion notes, podcasts, YouTube channels, public lectures, blogs, reference sites, and other miscellaneous resources relating to philosophy. This ongoing project has also included a Google Form that allows students to leave messages if they have questions, recommendations, or ideas in regard to the resource folder.
- Slack Virtual Community Space: A virtual community space via Slack for students interested in continuing philosophical discussions, connecting with one other, and building a community. It also serves as a feedback tool for the UDRs when they are looking for input in regard to meeting times and topics for the Socrates Café discussions.