Top 5 Upcoming Ethics Center Sponsored or Co-Sponsored Events

March 23rd, 2015

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The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, commonly known as “the Ethics Center,” is an organization at Brandeis with a mission to create effective solutions to injustice and conflict through coexistence work, support of international courts, and stimulation of ethical practice in professional and civic life.

One of the great programs at the Ethics Center is sponsorship and cosponsorship of events that relate to the mission of the Center.

Here are the top 5 events sponsored by the Ethics Center coming up just within the next nine days that you do not want to miss!


  1. An International Court to Fight Corruption: A Federal Judge Makes the Case

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Join the Alumni Club of Greater Boston’s Lawyers Network and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 6:30-8:30pm in the Faculty Club for a talk by Senior U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf on the consequences of corruption and how an international court can combat those issues. Hear commentary from Brandeis alum Bruce Singal ’70, Brandeis Legal Studies faculty member Guive Mirfendereski, and Brandeis undergraduate Mia Katan ’15. Details and link to RSVP here:


  1. Ethics Center LIVE! Photo Manipulation in Pursuit of “Beauty”ethicslivebeauty

Don’t miss a discussion on the Ethical Inquiry “The Ethics of Digital Photo Manipulation: Alterations in Pursuit of ‘Beauty’” researched and written by Brandeis alum Hailey Magee ’15 on Friday, March 27, 2015 from 4:00-5:30pm in Levine-Ross, Upper Sherman. This event, organized by the undergraduate Ethics Center Leadership Council, will draw from opinions from different student groups on campus to initiate discussion. Student groups cosponsoring include Active Minds, The Justice newspaper photo editors, and Women, Inc. (WINC). Details:

See the Ethical Inquiry here:


  1. How I Got in the Movement: A Civil Rights “Living Legend” Tells His Story – Julian Bond

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Come hear the 2014-15 Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life, Civil Rights living legend Julian Bond speak about his experience as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and where his activism has taken him over the subsequent decades on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 3:30pm in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library. He will highlight significant events and people of the 1960s and will talk about additional movements that have come from the Civil Rights Movement, up to and including the fight for marriage equality and the opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Fellowship is hosted by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life on behalf of the Office of the President. Details:


  1. “Anita,” an award-winning Argentine film about a national tragedy seen through the lens of a woman with Down Syndrome

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Rescheduled from DEIS Impact, the annual festival of social justice at Brandeis sponsored by the Ethics Center and the Student Union, this event will feature a screening of the film “Anita,” which tells the remarkable story of a young woman with Down Syndrome whose routine life in Buenos Aires is tragically disrupted by the horrific 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association. Join sponsors Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, the Nathan and Toby Starr Center on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Brandeis Buddies on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 7:00pm in Heller G3 for the film screening. Details:


  1. Klansville, U.S.A.: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

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Save the date for a screening of the film Klansville, U.S.A. hosted by the Department of Sociology at Brandeis on April 1, 2015 at 7:00pm in the Wasserman Cinematheque in Sachar International Center, as part of 2014-15 Richman Fellow Julian Bond’s three-day residency at Brandeis.  Klansville U.S.A. is based on Brandeis sociology professor David Cunningham’s book by the same title, and the film screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Callie Wiser, Professor Cunningham himself, and Julian Bond. For additional information contact Lauren Jordahl at


Want a complete list of Ethics Center sponsored events? Want to apply for funding and/or publicity from the Ethics Center?

Check out all upcoming events here:

Check out the cosponsorship process here:


Meeting Benjamin Ferencz

February 3rd, 2015


Reading a resume and meeting the man have shockingly different effects on a person. Benjamin Ferencz was a Harvard graduate lawyer who fought in World War II, served in some of the most important campaigns, and after the war lead the tribunal that tried the Einsatzgruppen, Hitler’s murder squads. His name will go down as one of the founders of international law. Upon meeting him, you are even more impressed that such a kind, little elderly man had accomplished so much in his life.

The Benjamin Ferencz talk was filled with students, teachers, and ethics center staff of all types. Several of the students, myself included, had studied in The Hague, learning about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the current state of international law. All were eager to hear the wisdom he could impart.

Ferencz made the talk very casual. He walked through his humble beginnings as an immigrant, his rise to Harvard law, and his service. He recalled with scorn the horrors he’d seen while liberating the concentration camps with the third army, and the evidence he had to collect for the trials in Nuremberg. How he insisted on a trial of the Einsatzgruppen, because of this fell into running a tribunal, and in doing so would help to change history.

When the floor was opened for questions, people were eager. Some asked about his impressions on current issues such as Israel, others asked for his thoughts on his past. Ferencz was eager to answer all. He gave off an energy of optimism, even after seeing so many years and witnessing so many injustices of humanity. He still believed that humanity would be capable of establishing a world order that would safeguard all people and their rights as humans. Even at his age, he maintained a lighthearted, pleasant humor about life.

When the question came about the name of Watchers of the Sky, the documentary Ferencz had helped to create. Ferencz chuckled and began telling the story of the original poem “Watchers of the Sky.” With tears in his eyes, he recalls how the astronomer in the poem knew not what his discoveries would be used for, but that they would help someone else be 20 years closer to the answers. No one in the audience spoke, all sitting in awe of this little old man who had created international law and still believed in the eventual goal of peace.

-Brandon Gale ’15, Fall 2014 ECLC member

Reflections on the Ethical Inquiry “The Ethics of International Aid: Who should direct international aid efforts?”

February 3rd, 2015

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This post is a response to “The Ethics of International Aid: Who should direct international aid efforts?”

International aid is a highly contested topic. In 1648, when the treaty of Westphalia was passed, it made state sovereignty supreme and gave authority and priority to the state. Governments typically didn’t want to contribute resources to recognize international organizations because it involved giving up some of their power.

When the concept of humanitarian intervention developed, it became a challenge because of the law of state sovereignty. Individuals argued that such intervention would be a direct violation of the UN charter, that intervention simplifies the situation, produces a negative affect on the country being intervened in and is not successful, has alternative motives to yield resources for the country intervening, and is racist. But, humanitarian intervention has lived on; why one might ask?

Personally, I would advocate that international aid is ethical when the other country requests assistance, and when the indigenous population believes that it will not infringe on their society. The problem is that when a genocide or ethic cleansing occurs, countries might feel obliged to intervene based on human rights accords (Helsinki Accords 1975).

Human rights can triumph state sovereignty, but other than that state sovereignty prevails.

Also, I was stuck by the idea that it is more important to work with the people and not just hand out cash. It’s easier to distribute cash, then to commit yourself and dedicate time and resources to go abroad and try to implement the change that you want to invest money in. They are two separate things. People want to help (or get tax credit) and typically don’t have the time/financial stability to drop their lives to try to change the world. That might be a cynical view of aid, but in my mind those who physically go abroad and attempt to implement policies and change the world, are more likely to affect lasting change, rather than those who occasionally donate. It is important to find out what a community wants and needs.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire argues that the only way to help the oppressed is for the oppressed to realize that they are oppressed. As outsiders, and hopefully humanitarians, we go into countries and want to make a difference without using cultural invasion (imposing our values, beliefs, education, and background onto others). As anthropologists, it’s crucial to essentially be re-born and discard our previously ascribed identities in order to fully integrate with a community to impact social, political, and economic change.

Allowing the oppressed to engage in open dialogue with one another not only generates trust between the alienated population, but it can also greatly strengthen the group should they decide to stage a revolution to overthrow the oppressors. “The revolutionaries can’t treat the oppressed as their possession,” rather they must become “oppressed” in order to fully empathize with their situation, which means that they need to strip themselves of their title or position of authority and truly live like those who are oppressed. The revolutionaries sometimes view the oppressed as incompetent or lazy and want to change the system without them, however Freire argues that the oppressed are ultimately responsible for achieving their own social change.

“Analysts like Tomohisa Hattori do not see international aid as the straightforward story of simple philanthropy, but rather as a far more complex structural system based on dominance and indebtedness, with socio-political implications beyond the act of aid distribution”

“Gilbert Rist suggests, however, that this flow of aid from the governments of richer nations to poorer nations is “genuinely hegemonic, because it appeared to be not only the best [solution] but the only possible one.

Both of these quotes above utilized in this article relate to my Anthropology of Development class this semester. We talked about theories of development and the way in which governments operate. In addition, these quotes emphasized how international aid might not be based on genuine intentions; rather it could be to foster a power hierarchy.

In Seeing Like a State, James Scott argues that states use international development as a way to control the population and try to simplify situations in order to make it easier on themselves; it allows governments to manipulate society to make the administrative system more efficient for collecting taxes and regulating policies, enables them to control the population through peaceful coercion or violence, and provides an opportunity for states to collectivize the population with regards to agriculture and production. By simplifying states, development leaders and politicians create a predetermined, more rigid, and potentially violent society, typically without the consent of the people.

Even though international aid is a topic that is the subject of much debate, I would argue that to some extent aid is necessary in creating a better future.

-Kira Levin ’17, Fall 2014 ECLC Member

5 Thought-Provoking Quotes from Inspiring Ethics Center Guests

April 25th, 2014

1. Eliza Dushku, actress and a social activist gave the Keynote Address: “Uganda By Way of Boston and Hollywood: A Social Justice Journey” at the 2013 ‘DEIS Impact “festival of social justice” together with her mother, Judith Dushku.


“The running joke in our family is that when other kids and families were going to Cancun or Hawaii for Spring break, our mother was bringing us somewhere where there had just been a revolution, there was about to be a revolution, or where she was going to start one.”
Full video. 


2. Dr. Patricia Hill Collins ’69, PhD ’84, is a Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at University of Maryland, College Park. She obtained her bachelor’s degree and completed doctorate at Brandeis. In October Dr. Collins received the fifth annual Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, which recognizes outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic and/or religious relations. (The Gittler Prize is hosted by the Ethics Center on behalf of the Office of the President.) Her prize lecture was titled “With My Mind Set on Freedom: Black Feminism, Intersectionality and Social Justice.”


“Intersectionality as a knowledge project that is committed to social justice finds itself pinioned between the rock of taking on intellectual and political agendas that ironically limit its emancipatory potential, and the hard place of seeing the tremendous human need for an analytical framework that can engage social injustices.”
Full video of her lecture and an interview hereExcerpt from transcript (see page 5).


3. Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, delivered the keynote address at the inaugural ‘DEIS Impact “festival of social justice” in 2012, centering on the importance of local action as a crucial foundation for global results.


“And as much as I want many of you to go into international work, and as much as I hope that someplace in this audience is the future Secretary of State or future head of the Agency for International Development, I want to remind you that Westerners do not have all the answers.” Excerpt from transcript (see page 5).

4.  Dr. Salomón Lerner Febres, Rector Emeritus of Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and former President of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Peru, delivered the keynote address for the symposium “Just Performance: Enacting Justice in the Wake of Violence,” hosted by the Center in December 2011. He spoke on “Memory of Violence and Drama in Peru: The Experience of the Truth Commission and the Yuyachkani Theater Group.”


“Art is divorced from both efficiency and efficacy…. its aim is to dignify all human beings – its business to shake us out of passive conformity to what is, and provoke us to dare explore what we can and should be.” Read his full comments in the original Spanish:  “Memoria de la violencia y dramaturgia en el Perú: La experiencia de la Comisión de la Verdad y el Grupo Yuyachkani” or in an English translation. Also available: an extended excerpt from transcript (see page 5).


5.  His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, now a member of the Ethics Center’s International Advisory Board, gave delivered the second Distinguished Lecture in International Justice and Human Rights at Brandeis on January 30th, 2013: “Beyond Nuremberg: The Future of International Criminal Justice.” He was introduced by Donald Ferencz, son of Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz and co-founder and executive director of the Planethood Foundation.


“After all, was it not humanity’s retrospective awareness of how terrible miscalculations led to two world wars that subsequently produced a multilateral system of states centered on the United Nations, and ushered in a new family of multilateral treaties and human rights instruments, all enabled by a shrinkage in the geographic distances between us stemming from technology, increased air travel, vastly improved communications and a correspondingly huge expansion in commerce and banking, and then – as of late – the creation of a new international criminal justice system?”
Full videoFull transcript. Extended excerpt from the transcript (see page 5).


–Shota Adamia ’15, member of the Ethics Center Leadership Council

9 Ethics Center Rockstars That Will Blow Your Mind

April 8th, 2014

I guarantee you’ve never heard of many of these amazing individuals who have and continue to work to change our world.  Fun fact–each of these incredible people are or were at one point affiliated with the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life!  Read on for crazy amounts of inspiration…

1. Wendi Adelson ’01 ez-e27tbwGIcxUc2fcqAVWFqwdn5xBkuqGCAvtoAj-I 

Cover of Wendi Adelson’s 2011 novel This is Our Story

  • 1999 Sorensen Fellow who worked with The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina during her fellowship
  • Clinical professor at Florida State University College of Law
  • Director of a student-led legal clinic that provides free legal services (disability and immigration) to homeless, disabled and undocumented patients in Tallahassee, Florida.
  • Author of This is Our Story, a novel about human trafficking and the law in the United States, based on her own experiences with her clients, published in 2011. This is Our Story was selected as the work all first-year students will read and discuss for Florida State University’s “One Book/One Campus” shared reading program in 2014.
  • Read more about Wendi’s work in Argentina here

2.  Kate Alexander ’12 NOAp1PkVLHJ0IVjcv9IHUthDo4gH9SIj3j_lU7obqvw

3. Jocelyn Berger ’03 3P8EWUdK7_bvfZ4b-9R08g-vuySKkRtKVDdWSoC6b9A

Jocelyn Berger, at Brandeis in 2002, holding the publication that features the internship projects of the 2002 Sorensen Fellows. Read it here

  • 2002 Sorensen Fellow who worked in Sri Lanka
  • Has worked for a number of faith-based, secular, community, social justice, humanitarian, and peace building nonprofits and NGOs
  • Completed a Master’s degree in International Affairs at The Fletcher School at Tufts, focused on post-conflict peace building and development.
  • Currently works in community engagement and political organizing at American Jewish World Service
  • Read about her Sorensen Fellowship experience in Sri Lanka here

4. Will Chalmus ’07 VI6yewY7vy1ksvZuqcNJELz8NZtVHLrfucRG-n9qcAM

Will Chalmus, Natasha Faria, Eileen Kell, and Abigail Steinberg ’12 (right to left) during a Playback workshop at ‘DEIS Impact 2012. Photo by Sheila Donio

5. Richard J. Goldstone H ’04 wvBSQ4FvlUlDG7cWrAUHhNkMSHoLkp2NrB_3DLd7i48

Richard Goldstone (center) speaks during an Ethics Center sponsored event: “Extremists and The Challenge of Public Conversation”

  • Chair of the Center’s International Advisory Board
  • Retired Justice for the Constitutional Court, South Africa
  • Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
  • Succeeded Kofi Annan as Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court
  • Faculty Advisor for the Brandeis Institute for International Judges since 2002
  • Read more about Judge Goldstone here

6. Daniel Koosed ’08  PH7QI06je1Offfg-2xYal6rMOUgk75gkvMOnLp6stz8

Sorensen Fellow Daniel Koosed ’08 (third from left) in Arusha, Tanzania in 2007

  • 2007 Sorensen Fellow who worked in Arusha, Tanzania as an Academic Intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR):
  • Attended law school at the University of Miami where he obtained another fellowship and returned to Arusha as a Legal Intern during the summer of 2010
  • Koosed passed the Florida Bar Exam and is now working full time as an associate immigration attorney in Miami with a law firm called Rodney & Rodney & Bernstein, P.A.
  • Read more about Daniel’s Sorensen Fellowship in Tanzania here

7. Rebecca Miller ’13 ci8Dum8-XaePVkdb4aSmXydx7amIv_QHiQwyLmiKelk

Rebecca Miller (left) at the Massachusetts State House (Photo: Ruth Weld)

  • Member of the Advocacy For Policy Change class in the spring of 2011
  • Lobbied for a Massachusetts state bill that guaranteed 15 non-paid days of leave for victims of violence and sexual assault
  • Won an Advocacy Policy Change award that allowed her to build on her lobbying efforts by undertaking other advocacy initiatives the following summer (See “Awards support student summer advocacy work”)
  • Now works as legislative aide to Massachusetts State Representative Tom Sannicandro and is assisting current Advocacy for Policy Change students with their efforts on Beacon Hill!
  • Read more about Rebecca’s work in Advocacy For Policy Change here

8. Michael Ratner ’66 MichaelRatner

Michael Ratner (at right) speaking with other Ethics Center International Advisory Board members at “Social Justice and the University: Perspectives from the U.S. and Abroad” in 2012

  • Member of the Ethics Center board
  • President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and is Chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin
  • He and the Center for Constitutional Rights are currently the attorneys in the United States for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He is still trying to get Guantanamo closed and the indefinite detention scheme it spawned ended
  • Writes and litigates on the enforcement of the prohibition on torture and murder against various dictators and generals who travel to the United States
  • In 2006, the National Law Journal named Ratner as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States

9. Aziz Sohail ’13   95TTnCSF21MjOl6cP1PeWtJsF9rGhkyXbelR-WEYaf4 


–Talia Lepson ’16, member of the Ethics Center Leadership Council

10 Most Inspirational Moments from ’DEIS Impact 2014

March 26th, 2014

Agonizing that you couldn’t make all 55 ‘DEIS Impact 2014 events? No worries! Here are the 10 moments I found particularly inspirational. For more information on the incredible speakers, performances, and events that took place, click here. What inspired you? Let me know below!


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1. “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Ndaba Mandela took several deep breaths before quoting from his grandfather’s inauguration address. ‘DEIS Impact keynote address



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Photo: Sister Helen speaking at Social Justice and “Protest, Politics and Change: Social Movements” (SOC 155b) taught by Prof. David Cunningham during ‘DEIS Impact College.

2. Sister Helen Prejean describing the hero in her book, Dead Man Walking, as the father of a murdered teenager fighting the death penalty because he knew it’s not what his daughter would have wanted. Dead Men Still Walking: A First-Hand Account of Death Row by Death Penalty Activist Sister Helen Prejean



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3. Alum Blanca E. Vega ’98 (second from right in photo) describing the racism she faced as a Latina on the Brandeis campus and how it motivated her to advocate for racial equality in higher education, reminding students that social justice begins at home. 3rd Annual Brandeis SoJust Leadership Forum




4. The courage and empathy filling the room at Queerlogues, an event where students explored LGBTQ issues through poetry, song and monologue. Queerlogues



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5. The sobering Harry Potter Alliance event “Magic Can’t Create Food, Can You?” demonstrating the difficulty low income Americans face cooking a nutritious diet … and getting a shout out from Brandeis alum and HPA founder Andrew Slack ’02. Magic Can’t Create Food, Can You?




6. Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy personally thanking students for volunteering their time at the Chill Zone, stressing that even one act of service is social justice. Brandeis Unites in Service




7. The emotional and personal film “Seoul Train” shown by Brandeis Liberty in North Korea taking students for a heart-wrenching ride as North Koreans attempted to flee to freedom. The Secret Underground Railroad Out of North Korea



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8. Damiana Andonova ’15 sharing her experience as a Sorensen Fellow witnessing discrimination against Roma infants in Bulgaria during “Recognizing the Roma Conflict – An Exploration of Human Rights.”



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9. The rhythmic heartbeat of communal drumming at the Brandeis Beats event “Beats of Peace” as Peacebuilding and the Arts Director Cynthia Cohen told a story describing a Hutu and a Tutsi drummer traveling and performing together in an effort to combat ethnic tensions in Rwanda. Beats of Peace




10. The enthusiasm, dedication, and determination of the ‘DEIS Impacters, the ‘DEIS impact steering committee, and Ethics Center staff that made it all possible.

- Mia Katan ’15 member of the Ethics Center Leadership Council

‘DEIS Impact explores LGBTQ Issues

March 14th, 2014

With its aim to tackle issues regarding social justice, ’DEIS Impact 2014 featured events covering a wide range of subjects, one of them being issues faced by the LGBTQ community.

Two of the most striking events regarding these issues were “Queerlogues” (read a Hoot article about the event: “‘Queerlogues’ demonstrates Brandeis’ LGBTQ pride”) and “Breaking the Silence on LGBTQ Sexual Violence” (see a ’DEIS Impact Blog post about the event, written by a ‘DEIS Impacter).

“Queerlogues” was arranged by the Queer Resource Center and featured multiple performances by Brandeis students. The aim of the event was to provide a safe space for participants to share their stories, hardships they have faced and courage they have found through the support of empathetic people they have encountered. Students read poetry, performed songs, read vivid monologues and left the audience empowered – most of the listeners with tears in their eyes.

One could sense that most of the people in the room felt an inexplicable connection with others, shattering the negative social constructions that tend to obstruct one’s capacity for empathy even against one’s kind will. Performers disclosed what was under their external layer of conduct and reminded the audience of the depth of human feelings, magnitude of one’s bias and actions on other people’s lives and the importance of human loyalty.

I left “Queerlogues” feeling empowered after seeing a large group of passionate individuals, yet I could not forget about the grim aspect of the human nature – violence that often exhibits itself from individuals whom one would least suspect. After all, can one definitely tell if a particular person is capable of sexual violence per se  – an issue unfortunately prevalent in the modern society?

“Breaking the Silence on LGBTQ Sexual Violence,” the second above-mentioned event, concentrated on occurrences of sexual violence on the LGBTQ community and ways of addressing and hopefully reducing, if not exterminating that violence. The event was hosted by the Queer Policy Alliance club and featured two speakers who provided the audience with statistical information, as well as gloomy details of the subject.

Speakers conducted a small workshop that put the audience in the position of encountering a case of sexual violence and gave them suggestions on how one can address the problem. We were provided with details about resources to reach out to in case of encountering such a case (for resources visit Boston Area Rape Crisis Center).

Both of these events restated the importance of activist work, as well as of tackling individual cases of oppression with the aim of achieving social justice and ensuring the protection of human rights of every single member of the community. I was moved and inspired by both of these events and I do hope that more students start to pay attention to the issue that affects our entire community.

– Shota Adamia ’15

Social Justice & Social Networking

February 7th, 2014

Students, alum and faculty braved the snow Wednesday evening and gathered with anticipation to hear ‘DEIS Impact keynote address, “Africa Rising: The Mandela Legacy & the Next Generation of African Leadership.” Continuing the legacy of their grandfather, Kweku Mandela-Amuah and Ndaba Mandela spoke of Africa Rising, which seeks to publicize the positive image of Africa. Kweku and Ndaba spoke of youth empowerment, the contagious potential of ideas, and inherent risk in truly striving for social justice.


Prof. Chad Williams, Chair of the Afro and African American Studies Department, moderates a Q&A with 'DEIS Impact keynote speakers Ndaba Mandela and Kweku Mandela-Amuah.

Prof. Chad Williams, Chair of the Afro and African American Studies Department, moderates a Q&A with ‘DEIS Impact keynote speakers Ndaba Mandela and Kweku Mandela-Amuah.


Praising Brandeis student body’s unique commitment to social justice, Kweku stressed that it is our inevitable failure in the struggle for social justice that makes it such a unique and meaningful burden to undertake. He emphasized that despite the inherently elusive goal of a just society ‘DEIS Impact is the essential embodiment of intent that drives our ideas forward. In this way, ‘DEIS Impact is, “the best of who we are and are inspired to be.” Kweku concluded by reiterating that true change requires risk, fearlessness, and action.

Ndaba Mandela balanced the crushing challenges Africa faces with the enormous natural strengths it possesses as a continent. In Ndaba’s view, the diversity of Africa’s fifty-four nations does not detract from its ability and necessity to unite. The African Dream must rise above and over power the global perspective of an Africa teeming with war, dictators, and poverty. Ndaba called for Brandeis to mobilize against injustice locally by holding our own Mandela Day to celebrate public service. Ndaba left us with the words of his grandfather, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

Following the Mandela’s words of inspiration I went home and logged on to for a taste of social justice networking. I was intrigued by the unexpected combination of Brandeisians’ two favorite pastimes – Facebook and social activism. The Mandela Project seeks to be a sounding board of inspiration where global citizens share their hopes for Africa and the world. The site immediately offered to transfer my Facebook information into their platform where I then received an automated welcome message from Ndaba Mandela himself. A Facebook-meets-Tumblr coated in Nelson Mandela’s face it’s certainly a unique take on honoring Mandela’s legacy. However, this marriage of the Internet and political activism seems a natural following the integral role of social media in the Arab Spring. While I don’t anticipate transferring my communications to Mandela Project I do believe it represents an inevitable shift towards online political organizing. As Ndaba and Kweku continue to experiment at the vanguard of youth organizing I can only hope they find a way to transfer the time and mental energy poured into social media towards collective action for a better world.

‘DEIS Impact continues at Brandeis through Monday February 10. The full schedule is here, the Facebook page is here, and videos are here.

– Mia Katan ‘15

Getting To Know The Ethics Center

January 24th, 2014

What is the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life? Can you give a clear, comprehensive explanation about what the Ethics Center is? Prior to accepting a position on the Ethics Center Leadership Council last June, I sure couldn’t.


It’s easy to become involved with the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life.  The Center is incredibly multifaceted in its programming and offers plentiful leadership opportunities for both students and professionals alike. On the other hand, however, it’s also really easy to involve one’s self with a specific program and forget to take advantage of the other areas the Center has to offer.


The Ethics Center is such a multifaceted organization that coming up with one, comprehensive explanation about the inner workings of the Center is really difficult.  The official mission of the Ethics Center is “to develop effective responses to conflict and injustice by offering innovative approaches to coexistence, strengthening the work of international courts, and encouraging ethical practice in civic and professional life.”


You can read all about the six guiding principles of the center, “an international focus,” “the public square,” “across the disciplines,” “a bridge between scholarship and practice,” “the perspective of the arts,” and “connections to communities” right here.


As a Politics major, the international justice programming acted as a catalyst that inspired me to become involved with the Ethics Center.  When I came to Brandeis as a midyear freshman last winter, I was immediately drawn to ‘DEIS Impact.  Judy and Eliza Dushku, who founded THRIVE Gulu—an nonprofit organization based in Gulu, Uganda that aids Ugandans in healing from various traumas by enhancing their self-sufficiency and self-esteem—gave the Keynote Address. Hearing their inspirational stories ignited a fire that ultimately led me to apply for the ECLC.


After learning more about the Ethics Center as an ECLC member, I became intrigued by Peacebuilding and the Arts and Campus Programming. As a Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies minor, promoting peace by means of creating art was really inspirational to learn about. And regarding campus programs, who doesn’t want a $4000 grant to carry out humanitarian work anywhere in the world?!


For me, the most rewarding part about being involved in the Ethics Center is having access to an incredible network of motivated students and faculty who are all working to promote justice and better the world. Whether it’s learning about student initiatives to promote peace by creating art, reading the work of international judges discussing contemporary issues in international justice, or speaking with Sorensen Fellows who just came back from a summer-long fully funded internship abroad, I am constantly in awe of the resources and programming offered through the Ethics Center.


Starting this February 1, the Ethics Center is sponsoring ‘DEIS Impact 2014, a weeklong festival of social justice. Rumor has it, Nelson Mandela’s grandsons will be speaking at the keynote address! Be sure to check out the schedule of events for a complete breakdown of the entire festival!


If you’d like to become involved in the Ethics Center, please check out our upcoming events. We’d love to see you there!


-Talia Lepson, ’16

Beyond Words

January 16th, 2014

I’ve always loved to draw. The margins of my chemistry notebooks are dotted with doodles, my dorm room walls are plastered with sketches of landscapes and flowers. Until I became a member of the Ethics Center Leadership Council, art had always been about the aesthetic.

The Peruvian theatre group, Grupo Cultutural Yuyachkani, performs at Brandeis

The Peruvian theatre group, Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, performs at Brandeis

Art took on new meaning when outreach for Peacebuilding and the Arts became my semester project for the ECLC. The Peacebuilding and the Arts program views art as a medium for conveying stories about conflict and reconciliation. Past work includes the Dor Guez exhibit at the Rose Art Museum, the documentary, Acting Together on the World Stage, and a performance by the Thai theatre artist and social activist, Kop. Throughout the fall semester, I learned just how important art can be for people living in areas of conflict and their search for peace.

Last October, I visited Dr. Cindy Cohen’s class, PAX250, “The Arts of Building Peace.” The students had been assigned to interview people who had struggled with conflict and use any type of media to create pieces that demonstrated the interviewees’ resilience. Video footage of a Holocaust survivor, a poem about a student who travelled the world and was imprisoned in a foreign country, a song written about an Israeli soldier…I found it incredible that experiences of people I had never met could move me so much. The stories were certainly noteworthy, but I think it was the artful depictions that played to my emotions. Indeed, the art evoked feelings that are beyond words.

Last November I visited PAX250 again. This time, a special presentation was made by Jane Wilburn Sapp, a renowned musician and cultural worker who grew up during the Civil Rights Era in the American South. By the end of the session, everyone in the overfilled classroom joined Jane to sing, “There’s a River Flowing in my Soul.” Music is infectious, and Jane’s messages were unanimously received. 

This Spring Dr. Cindy Cohen is offering students interested in music, peacebuilding, and the Civil Rights Movement a unique internship/ independent study opportunity documenting the life and work of Jane Sapp. Students will act as videographers, transcribers, and researchers and have the chance to work with Jane in a workshop setting. Jane’s work has the ability to bring people back to the civil rights era, a time that Brandeis students rarely think about. Understanding the struggles of others, I believe, makes us feel whole, and there is no greater unifying force than art.

While words come in different languages, art is universally understood. In a few days I’ll be leaving to study abroad in South Africa, a land recovering from Apartheid. I wonder what kinds of art forms I will encounter that will help me understand the struggles faced by the people who live there and their ability to gain peace.


-Erica Granor ’15

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