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General Education Seminar

General Education Seminars

September 7, 2005

IBS has introduced a new, experimental short-course format - the General Education Seminar - this semester to offer students an opportunity to study narrow, interesting topics in unusual depth.

Following An Illustrious Predecessor
The General Education Seminar is named after the famous course "GenEdS" which Brandeis offered in the 1950s. All seniors had to enroll in that course, which featured discussions with leading figures in politics and the arts (Eleanor Roosevelt was a frequent participant) whom President Abram Sachar invited to meet with students.

The new Gen-Ed-S will echo the spirit of its distinguished predecessor, if not its format, by enabling students to explore large issues with world-class experts.

How the Seminars Are Structured
We will offer two Seminars this spring and hope to offer around that number in future semesters.

Each Seminar will:

  • earn either one or two credits
  • involve 9 hours of student-faculty contact
  • be jointly taught by a Brandeis faculty member and a Distinguished Guest Professor (who may be involved for only some contact hours)
  • have a syllabus and readings (hopefully short enough to match the modest credit)
  • be graded by letter grades or "credit/no-credit"
  • have meetings scheduled at irregular times to accommodate the needs of the visitor and student participants - students should expect to have to be flexible
  • have enrollment limited to 20 (if necessary, selected by the instructor)

We expect that most students will not enroll in these seminars mainly to earn one credit, but the credit should help to justify investments that we expect from students in order to achieve high-level interactions with our visitors. Of course, the credits can also add up to substitute for a full course (4 credits) if combined with three credits from internships, other 291 Seminars or modules.

This Semester's Offerings
The GenEdS courses offered this spring are:

  • ECON 291g Section 1: "Central Banking Strategies," by Professor Stephen Cecchetti and Distinguished Guest Professor Ben Bernanke, Governor of the Federal Reserve System and other Federal Reserve System experts (one credit). 
  • FIN 291a Section 1. "Simulating Banking Decisions," by Professor Ed Bayone and Distinguished Guest Professor Richard M. Rosenberg, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America (retired) (two credits).