New programs offered for Justice Brandeis Semester

Immersive courses combine traditional and experiential learning

Students on the JBS Filmmaking: From Script to Screen Program learn the three phases of the filmmaking process--screenwriting, production, and editing.

The Justice Brandeis Semester is back.

Last summer, 24 Brandeis undergraduates enrolled in a unique pilot program that gave them the chance to delve deeply into an area of interest through a set of interrelated courses and hands-on experiences. Dubbed the Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS), the program featured small classes, close working relationships with faculty and an opportunity to apply practical skills to an academic subject. Students were able to select from three curricula: Environmental Health and Justice; Health and Society and Web Services and Mobile Applications. A fourth program, the Environment Field Semester, was held during fall term.

The university recently announced it had renewed JBS for a second summer—and added a new fall-semester option. The new lineup reprises two programs from last year, and adds two more—including one that will take place over eight weeks in Mississippi. Applications for all four programs are due by noon on March 15.

Students who participated in JBS last summer and fall gave the program high marks.

“My fundamental world view significantly changed after taking the Environmental Field Semester,” said Ayal Weiner-Kaplow ‘11. “It's almost as if I can see the whole process that it took to grow a pile of tomatoes every time I walk into a supermarket.”

This summer JBS will offer three diverse programs: Civil Rights and Racial Justice in Mississippi; Mobile Applications and Game Development; and Filmmaking: From Script to Screen. Environmental Health and Justice will be offered in the fall. In all four programs, students take three core classes and work collaboratively on projects out of the classroom.

“This is an opportunity for students to gain college credit while getting a real-world experience,” said Alyssa Grinberg, JBS program manager. “It’s an intimate, intensive, immersive academic opportunity. JBS is an incredibly innovative program and we believe this year’s programs will be the strongest yet.”

Class sizes in all the programs are capped at around 15, allowing students to build strong relationships with faculty and peers. The program also helps students fulfill a number of academic requirements since many of the courses are cross-listed in multiple departments and thus can count toward different majors and minors. The program also counts as one of the semesters that students need in order to graduate.

Here are brief summaries of the 2011 JBS programs.

Summer 2011

Civil Rights and Racial Justice in Mississippi
12 credits
Taught by David Cunningham,

Students will spend eight weeks in
 Mississippi, learning and applying cutting-edge historical, 
theoretical, and methodological techniques to support a statewide
 grassroots racial justice effort focused on the legacy of the civil 
rights struggle in the state.
 The program will be offered in collaboration with the University of
 Mississippi's William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Mississippi Truth Project.
Mobile Applications and Game Development
12 credits with optional fall extension for 20 credits
Taught by Tim Hickey and Pito Salas

Last summer’s program, also taught by Professor Tim Hickey, was called Web Services and Mobile Applications. This year’s focus will be on mobile applications and game development. Students will pitch ideas for applications that they want to create, break down into smaller teams, and actually develop them throughout the eight weeks. Examples of applications designed last year can be viewed in the Summer 2010 program.

Filmmaking: From Script to Screen
12 credits
Taught by Mark Dellelo and Marc Weinberg
Have you ever wanted to create a movie from start to finish? Now is your chance to gain a sound understanding of all three phases of the filmmaking process--screenwriting, production, and editing. Put this knowledge into practice, working in a small group to write, produce, direct, and edit a 20 to 30 minute short movie.

Fall 2011
Environmental Health and Justice
16 credits
Taught by Laura Goldin with Dr. James Stewart, Ted Myatt, Joseph Allen, Matt Fragala

Students will become deeply immersed in the law, policy, social impacts and science of current environmental health issues challenging individuals, families and communities today. The focus will be on low-income, diverse populations as we examine issues at the juncture of environmental challenges and social justice - toxic exposures in food, soils, air and water disproportionately affecting low-income communities; decisions about location of hazardous waste facilities; access to environmentally safe and affordable housing and others.

Categories: General, Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

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