"For me, ['DEIs Impact College] was an opportunity to hear students think out loud, which is fascinating, and to watch my colleague in action."
-Ingrid Schorr, acting Director of the Brandeis Office of the Arts

Download the 2016 'DEIS Impact College schedule [PDF] here!

For more information on these courses: check the course listings at brandeis.edu/registrar

'DEIS Impact College

Attendees sat in on open sessions of courses taught by faculty representing a range of disciplines but one common goal: grounding college students' passion for changing the world in solid theory. DEIS Impact College began in 2014. 

2016 Schedule

Location: All classes were held in the Shapiro Campus Center Multipurpose Room.

Thursday, February 4:

11:00-11:50 a.m. Social Justice in the Writing of Women of Color: An open session of ENG 197b, Within the Veil: African-American and Muslim Women's Writing, with Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman

Aliyyah Abdur-RahmanProf. Aliyyah Abdu-Rahman led the group in a consideration of common and contrasting themes between a talk by Malcolm X's eldest daughter Ambassador Attallah Shabazz and the novel "The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf" by Mohja Kahf, about a girl named Khadra growing up Muslim and female in America. Both Shabazz and Khadra attempt to claim their own history and cultural practice, rather than allowing others to define them.

12:00-12:50 p.m. Sacco and Vanzetti, The Trial of the Century: An open session of AMST 100b, Twentieth Century American Culture, with Thomas Doherty

Thomas DohertyUnpacking the “trial of the century,” Prof. Doherty examined the 1920 Massachusetts case of Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a fishmonger. Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian-American anarchists who were executed for robbery and murder in a case widely believed to reflect a deeply flawed judicial system. Some criminal cases like this one take on wider cultural resonance than the guilt or innocence of individuals. Issues such as immigration, justice, democracy, and religion all played out in this case, which inspired writings by Edna St. Vincent Millay, songs by Woody Guthrie, and work from other notable figures around the world who protested the innocence of these men. The Brandeis library has an aluminum relief of a sculpture of Sacco and Vanzetti.

2:00-3:20 p.m. The Potential, the Limits and the Tragedy of Due Process of Law: Baker v. Carr and DeShaney v. Winnebago Co., An open session of LGLS 116b, Civil Liberties: Constitutional Debates, with Daniel Breen

Daniel BreenIn 1960, schoolteacher and civil rights activist Barbara Elfbrandt refused to take the newly-passed Loyalty Oath in Arizona, because the oath had the effect of discouraging membership in civil rights organizations. When she was fired, she successfully appealed her case. A less savory outcome of due process is seen in the case of DeShaney v. Winnebago County (WI). When young Joshua DeShaney was beaten by his father severely enough to cause brain damage, a suit was filed against the Department of Social Services which visited the home periodically over several years, apparently believing the increasingly far-fetched explanations of increasingly more severe injuries. The DSS was found innocent in the case, since it was not the state's action, but inaction, which caused Joshua's injuries. Only state action is covered by the 14th Amendment. (The father served 2 1/2 years of a 4-year sentence for the felony crime of child abuse.)

3:30-4:50 p.m. Al Qaeda before 9/11: An Open Session of POL 160a, The War on Global Terrorism, with Jytte Klaussen

Jytte KlaussenFrom a fuzzy 1971 photo believed to be Osama bin Laden on vacation with his family in Sweden, to bin Laden's capture and death in 2011, Prof. Klausen described the idealogical and military development of Al Qaeda and related operations. The deep, thick networks of violent terrorist groups often go underground for awhile, then reemerge in this radical global movement.

5:00-6:20 p.m. Religious Symbols in a Secular Public
: The Case of the Islamic Veil: An open session of ANTH 118a, Secularism, Religion and Modernity, with Hikmet Kocamaner

Prof. Hikmet KocamanerThe class discussed the French state's ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves and other conspicuous religious signs in public schools. In a role play activity, Prof. Kocamaner took the role of the French Minister of Education to explain why French politicians consider wearing religious outfits and signs as antithetical to secularism and how they see it as an emblem of an individual's priority of religion over loyalty to the state. Assigning his students to act as if they were members of the European Court of Human Rights, he asked them to decide whether the French state's ban could be considered a violation of human rights and social justice.

Friday, February 5:

9:30-10:50 a.m. Social justice through the eyes of women playwrights: An open session of THA 142b, Women Playwrights: Writing for the Stage by and about Women, by Adrianne Krstansky

Prof. Adrianne KrstanskyProf. Krstansky and the group considered the play "Ruined," by Lynn Nottage, set in the Congo, performed on campus by Brandeis Players last fall. In the play, Mama Nadi is a struggling businesswomen who is trying to support herself in this time of civil war. Structural violence and the devastation of the land is matched by personal violence and devastation of individual lives. Rachel Odusanya, one of the students in the class, happened to be the actress performing the part of Mama Nadi last fall. With the lines of the play still embedded in her mind, Rachel delivered a powerful monologue from the book about survival.

11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m. "Is 'social justice' a mirage? A discussion of Friedrich Hayek's critique of social justice" An open session of POL 187b: Conservative Political Thought," Bernard Yack

Bernard YackNobel Prize-winning Austrian political economist Friedrich Hayek claims that social justice is a mirage that cannot exist. He claims that just as natural disasters are unjust, striking regardless of worth or value, economic forces naturally result in inequality. However, tampering with economic forces to try to achieve a more just result itself leads to social injustice, favoring central authority figures over other individuals. In fact, the very process of deciding what is a just result is in itself arbitrary, based on changing conceptions of justice over time (such as the role of women or racial minorities in society).

For more information on these courses: check the course listings.