International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life

Ethical Engagement at Brandeis and Beyond

The Ethics Center in the SpringEthical Engagement at Brandeis and Beyond

January, 2022

For 24 years, the Ethics Center has offered distinctive approaches to ethical engagement, exploring and addressing issues of pressing concern with partners on the Brandeis University campus, in local communities in Waltham and Massachusetts, across the United States and around the world.

Across the Ethics Center’s diverse programs – in recent years focused on peacebuilding and the arts, questions of justice broadly defined, and legislative processes in US states – the Ethics Center has embodied strong commitments to civic engagement, ethical practices, and the values of reciprocity and listening. It has worked in contexts of rapid change and ambiguity, recognized the dynamics of power, and embraced an obligation to work toward justice and equity. In the process the Center has addressed legacies of colonialism, past and present, and advocated for actions that minimize risks of harm.

The Ethics Center’s three major current program areas continue to embody these commitments:

The Ethics Center designed and leads the innovative Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts and its related minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST), both of which are collaborating with and being recognized by partners across the globe, ranging from intergovernmental organizations and funders to grassroots cultural organizations on every continent, as they explore how ethically crafted artistic and cultural initiatives can make uniquely potent contributions to communities’ efforts to address complex 21st century challenges. See article on newsletter pages 6-8.

The Language Culture and Justice Hub, an initiative of the Ethics Center’s Programs in International Justice and Society, is currently leading a group of Brandeis students as they collaborate with students and faculty in Australia and the UK to research the linguistic experiences of international students and how language differences may lead to bias and exclusion on campus (see page 3 of newsletter.) Practitioners and scholars and interested members of the public subscribe to the Ethics Center’s “International Justice in the News” for a monthly selection of news about the people involved in the work of international courts and tribunals, significant developments in international justice, and publications and resources of interest.

ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation, a non-partisan program developed and led by the Ethics Center, recently completed its expansion to every state in the country with a mission to teach students about democracy through active civic engagement in the state legislative process on such issues as health care equity, voting, climate change, and criminal justice. ENACT’s faculty fellows teach in a wide range of institutions, and adapt approaches from Brandeis and colleagues from other states to their own particular contexts. See article on newsletter page 4.

“What these diverse activities share is a commitment to the direct engagement of students with critical institutions and real-world problems, requiring them to gain new skills, adopt alternative perspectives, and think about how societal change occurs,” says Leigh Swigart, Director of Programs in International Justice and Society.

“For nearly a quarter century the Ethics Center has provided a campus home for many students, faculty, and alumni that includes and extends beyond the particular programs it sponsors and the events it hosts,” adds David Weinstein, Assistant Director of Communications and ENACT.

“The Ethics Center has a special constellation of experience, expertise, partners and supporters in a context of innovation, experimentation, and grounding in principles of ethical engagement. As the Ethics Center continues to evolve it will offer socially responsible, coherent, and well-guided experiences for students as they prepare to face critical 21st century challenges.”