Difference and Justice in the World

Last updated: August 1, 2019 at 10:55 PM


Today’s world has been shaped by forces that cannot be understood without taking a broad global perspective. Human experience has been influenced by the expansion of democracy; technological, environmental, moral and aesthetic changes; greater attention to the protection of human rights; and the improvement of economic conditions for many. However, progress has not been equal, and for many, circumstances have worsened. Our world and its peoples continue to be deeply challenged by new forms of age-old problems. Religious, ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual differences are used as grounds for persecution, exclusion, and other forms of unequal treatment. The effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate already growing global economic inequality, food insecurity, and competition for natural resources. These phenomena are interrelated with the legacy or colonialism; world, civil and regional wars; diasporic migration; and terrorism.

As members of local and global communities, our students must be able to engage with the world’s greatest problems and issues with courage and resiliency by applying critical analytical skills and historical perspectives, and by developing empathy for, and a deep understanding of other cultures and perspectives, and how they have been formed and continue to evolve. By learning to appreciate diversity and communicate across difference, Brandeis students enter the world better prepared to replace conflict with cooperation.

As part of the global engagement requirement, difference and justice in the world courses will allow students to focus on the social, cultural, political, environmental and economic diversity of human experience within the global/transnational context. Looking beyond singular or dominant understandings of the world, students will engage in the study of peoples outside the U.S., their histories, arts, cultures, politics, economies, environments, and religions. They will address problems such as:

  • the ways in which different cultures, societies and social groups define and express themselves and are defined by others;
  • how categories of difference are constructed, and how they intersect with one another;
  • the production and mediation of social and cultural power in different contexts;
  • the unequal effects of globalization and climate change on different cultures and groups in all spheres of human experience, across histories and geographies.

Learning Goals

  1. Increase one’s ability to understand different perspectives and learn from peoples, cultures, and world-views different from those that are familiar
  2. Develop skills to engage in comparative analyses of how historical legacies have shaped contemporary global and environmental realities
  3. Understand global, transnational and interconnected issues of social justice beyond the United States
  4. Evaluate strategies that address relevant challenges of global or local significance
  5. Promote alternative non-traditional ways of knowing that challenge conventional disciplinary logics

How to Fulfill the Requirement

For students entering Brandeis beginning fall 2019, students will complete one semester course that satisfies the difference and justice in the world requirement. Courses that satisfy the requirement in a particular semester are designated "djw" in the Schedule of Classes for that semester. A list of difference and justice in the world courses is available in the Courses of Instruction.

There is no difference and justice in the world requirement for students entering Brandeis prior to fall 2019.