Introducing ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation

December 16th, 2015

12138378_10153609862780196_1568804985653101270_o advocacysized (2)

This year, the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life will introduce a program across the nation, called ENACT, which will engage college students in transforming state laws. To do this, the center is creating a national expansion of the course Advocacy for Policy Change offered at Brandeis. This course combines learning about ethical issues in lawmaking with actual work in the field advocating for structural reform to existing law or the introduction of new legislation. The Ethics Center Leadership Council interviewed Hannah Marion ‘16, an alumn of Advocacy for Policy Change, to find out more about the influence of the course on students.


How do you think that the course Advocacy for Policy Change impacted you, personally, academically, and career planning-wise?

Before taking this class I thought I wanted to ultimately be a social worker, but after taking the class I realized just how much policy can affect people, and decided I also wanted to get a law degree and work in social policy.

What is an example of something meaningful you learned in Advocacy for Policy Change?

I learned that if you care enough about an issue, and put effort into advocating for a specific policy, you really can make a change.

How did the “experiential learning” aspect of Advocacy for Policy Change influence the course for you?

I loved it! Being able to talk to legislators at the State House was a great opportunity, and I definitely felt like I learned a lot from it. I also got a lot out of working with advocates in the community and learning from their experiences.

My group and I reached out to the Massachusetts Bail Fund and the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition. We participated in a couple different phone conferences and were really able to better understand the issues regarding bail reform in order to advocate at the State House. We met with a couple different state representatives and were able to offer them our legislative research report in hopes that they would vote in favor of bail reform. We also spoke with the Commissioner of Probation, Ed Dolan, to get his opinions on the record because his department would deal with the proposed legislation. Overall, the structure of the class really allowed me to grow as an independent learner and made me realize that being a successful advocate is based on doing sound research of both your argument and counterargument and being very persistent.

What do you think about Advocacy for Policy Change becoming a national program? Do you think that having this course offered around the country will impact students or spark change?

I think it’s a great idea! I definitely think that it would help to spark change.


Be sure to find out more about ENACT on the Ethics Center’s website:

Sugar Cookies, Dialogue, and the Ethics Behind Beauty

April 28th, 2015

April 28, 2015

Author: Sophia Warren, member of Ethics Center Leadership Council


With chairs structured in a circle, sugar cookies by the door, and a panel of three Brandeis students, Morgan Brill from The Photo Department of The Justice newspaper, Cassidy Tatun from Active Minds at Brandeis University, and Lauren Nadeau from Women, Inc., our discussion began. The goal was to connect an Ethical Inquiry, both an active opportunity and resource of the Ethics Center, to the Brandeis community. To some, we hoped to introduce the Ethics Center itself, the various resources, communities, classes, and opportunities it offers to Brandeis students and the outside community. To others, we aimed to introduce to the concept of an ethical inquiry, those who knew the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, but had not interacted with the Ethics Center through this opportunity.

For those who don’t know, an Ethical Inquiry is a written piece of research, analysis and exploration. An inquiry addresses an ethical challenge of our time, be it local, political, or global. It is designed to be nuanced, complex, and the result of critical thought, and genuine attention. Anyone within the Brandeis community can apply (undergrad and grad); alumni from any school and field may apply, as well. Individuals of completed and approved Inquires are provided with a paid honorarium.

As the Ethics Center Leadership Council, we had spent serious time combing through Ethical Inquiries, selecting topics, cultivating questions, and establishing a date, time, and advertising strategy, so much so that I honestly hadn’t processed how I might benefit from this event I had helped to design. I hadn’t realized the power of dialogue, present even in a space where I was to act as more of a facilitator than participant.


With this event, we found ourselves interested in engaging with elements of social justice in relationship to media and standards of beauty. We wanted to create a space for discussion of ethics in relationship to the standards and world stage media presents on. We were led to this by the Ethical Inquiry: ‘The Ethics of Digital Photo Manipulation: Alterations in Pursuit of ‘Beauty’, by recent Brandeis graduate Hailey Magee ’15. The piece balances juxtaposing the unrealistic pressures of womanhood, personhood, and the artistic and social norms of digital manipulation. We are left with the closing set of thoughts here: “Photoshop and similar software and applications for altering images have become cheaper, easier to use and more widely available. Techniques discussed in this inquiry were once limited largely to industry, government, and professionals. As the opportunities for digital photo manipulation grow, what do the practices of industry, in the pursuit of “beauty” have to teach us about our responsibility as individuals? Should mathematical formulas be used to determine “[h]ow much is too much” retouching of a photo?”

From the moment the event was called to order, where we began with an introduction of the Ethics Center, its various resources, and an overview of the Ethical Inquiry we had selected, we knew as an ECLC the complexity of the topic we were dealing with.

Throughout the discussion, various perspectives and patterns in thought emerged, contradicting importantly to gain some new perspective of this ethical dilemma. Some thought any photograph technically had the ability to manipulate and deceive, even unintentionally. The angle of a photograph can make a poorly attended basketball game appear full. Others applied the theory that we understand, and can even often spot today, alterations of individuals in our commercials. We don’t need laws or Dove beauty campaigns to tell us this. To that, others pointed out that the Ethical Inquiry itself stated: “A study conducted by University of Alabama professor Kimberly Bissell ‘compared college women’s visual literacy – defined in terms of their knowledge of digital manipulation in fashion and entertainment images – to their desire to be thin.’ Even if participants were aware that the subject of the photograph had been altered, their desires to look like the model did not diminish. Bissell used this data to further establish the relationship between the ‘thin ideal’ within the media and ‘disordered eating patterns in women.’”


The talk branched out into a couple valid, differing points. One was the influence of media standards of beauty on eating disorders and disordered eating, these two concepts maintaining important distinctions. Says the Inquiry: “Carrie Arnold, writing for Psychology Today, was generally pleased with the AMA press release, but disputed the AMA’s statement that media images contribute to eating disorders, contending instead that media images contribute to disordered eating. ‘It’s a common mistake, confusing disordered eating and eating disorders,’ she explains. Arnold cites Dr. Sarah Ravin, who explains, “disordered eating ‘comes from the outside,’ whereas eating disorders ‘come from the inside’…. Environment plays a huge role in the onset of disordered eating… In contrast, the development of an eating disorder is influenced very heavily by genetics, neurobiology, individual personality traits, and co-morbid disorders.”

Another key point was in asking which narrative of beauty is being projected, and ultimately commodified as the universality in definition of beauty. This was understood by some to be defined more broadly, the discussion of a European standard of beauty was importantly discussed. This standard is one found horribly destructive to many individuals worldwide, with notions of colonialism and patriarchy oppressing and marginalizing races and ethnicities across national lines. I believe these two branches of conversation are vital to the narrative of digital alteration. When we are altering, we are altering in the pursuit of certain ideals and normalities of thought and action. What we are creating is a unified story marginalizing nuance and perpetrating the idea of one “normal”. While photo editing has the potential to be technically impressive and certainly a work-of-art to create (I am an editing photographer myself), we must be honest about what these alterations, angles, lighting, and shadow are creating and attempting to create. To create change, we must understand the ethics of letting industry and markets and media tell us what is beautiful.

This talk opened my eyes as to how time, space, and evolving perspective enhances and transforms Ethical Inquiries to a strong reference, a helpful guide, a passionate plea in an evolving world. I thank the Ethics Center for creating this space and opportunity to write these Ethical Inquiries and to have this dialogue. I thank the author of this piece, Hailey Magee. I thank my fellow ECLC members. I thank finally those who came, who interacted with one another in this space so respectfully and so openly.


What to know more about Ethical Inquiries?

Check out Ethical Inquires here:

Email, or call 781-736-2115

Want to know more about the services the Ethics Center provides?

Check us out here:

Top 5 Upcoming Ethics Center Sponsored or Co-Sponsored Events

March 23rd, 2015

ECLogoBlBlk (1)


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

10347249_10153094511265196_4477346380291565573_n (1)judgewolf (1)

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

rsz_rappaporte (1)Julian-Bond_resized

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

deis_impact_2015_logo_words (1)anita-final-v1-sm

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

Cunningham_Klansville flyer_lowres (1)

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

same Nasa url as the last one please

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!


Deis Impact Keynote 2-5-14 MB 325_edit

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



DSC_2464_edit 2

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



SoJust forum 16_edit

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



HPA Chopped 02_07_14 ARK 046_edit

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



IMG_0131_edit 2

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.”



IMG_0024_edit 2

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

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)