In honor of the centennial of Louis Brandeis' nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court, all of the "B" sessions are dedicated to the exploration and celebration of the legacy of our namesake. 

Click the session names below for full class descriptions.
Session 1
9:45 - 11 a.m.
Session 2
11:20 a.m. -
12:35 p.m.
Session 3
1:45 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Session 4
3:20 - 4:35 p.m.
1A Understanding Auctions 2A Shakespeare and Time 3A Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary: How Humanitarian Negotiators Protect Lives 4A Neurobiology of Disease
1B The Right to be Let Alone: Louis Brandeis and the King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers 2B The First Amendment and the Challenge of Life in a Liberal Society 3B The Supreme Court, the Constitution and Brandeis University 4B The Jewish Legacy of Louis D. Brandeis

Session 1
9:45 – 11 a.m.

1A Understanding Auctions
Katy Graddy
Fred and Rita Richman Distinguished Professor in Economics, Brandeis International Business School

Auctions for different types of items have different rules. For example, in art auctions the auctioneer begins with a low price and then incrementally increases it until bidding stops. In tulip auctions, the price starts high and then moves down, until a bidder stops the auction. In many government procurement auctions, the bidders submit sealed bids. Why do these auctions have different formats? Is one format better than another? Professor Graddy will investigate how the properties of the items that are being auctioned and the characteristics of the bidders interact to predict the most profitable type of auction.  

 1B The Right to Be Let Alone: Louis Brandeis and the King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers
Dan Breen
Lecturer in Legal Studies

All modern Fourth Amendment decisions stem from Justice Brandeis' famous dissent in the 1927 case of Olmstead v. United States. To this day, no one has given a more persuasive justification of our right to be free of unreasonable governmental searches and seizures. But Brandeis' memorable words would never have been written had it not been for Prohibition and the vast obstacles that prevented an overmatched federal government from cutting off the flow of alcohol into the United States. The story of Prohibition, and especially the colorful part Roy Olmstead played in keeping Seattle happily awash in liquor, is integral to story of Brandeis' dissent. Professor Breen will explore the world of rum-runners and speakeasies and show how that world gave rise to the dissenting opinion that, to this day, gives judges the rationale for deciding whether an amendment framed in 1791 protects our right to be secure in smartphones and email.

Session 2
11:20 a.m. – 12:35 p.m.

2A Shakespeare and Time
William Flesch
Professor of English

Shakespeare, who died 400 years ago this year, thought intensely about human experience from many different perspectives, and part of his greatness as a literary psychologist comes from the way he integrates both aesthetic and practical perspectives. History, tragedy, and comedy depict three different attitudes toward life, and Shakespeare's understanding of each is enhanced by his understanding of the other two; but Shakespeare also possessed an unequalled practical knowledge of how theater worked, and his understanding of what he was doing, of what actors would make of it, and of what audiences would experience during "the two-hours' traffic" of the play is part of the experience. The through-line through all these perspectives is the experience of time, and Professor Flesch will look at how Shakespeare manages theatrical time to represent "existential" time, and how he ultimately presses the idea that existential time is best lived, best coped with, through the insight theatrical time allows you.

 2B The First Amendment and the Challenge of Life in a Liberal Society
Eileen McNamara

Professor of the Practice of Journalism
Maura Jane Farrelly
Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of the Journalism Program

Professors Eileen McNamara and Maura Jane Farrelly will examine recent criticisms of the press being launched by the Right and the Left. They will interrogate the merits of these criticisms, paying particular attention to the ways in which the criticisms are similar (their animating ideology aside). They will ask participants to evaluate the impact that the criticisms have on our free society.

Session 3
1:45 – 3 p.m.

3A Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary: How Humanitarian Negotiators Protect Lives
Alain Lempereur
Alan B. Slifka Professor and Director of the Coexistence and Conflict Program, Heller School for Social Policy and Management

In past humanitarian crises, individuals have emerged as heroes for leading negotiations and operations that saved thousands of lives. How and why were they successful? What lessons can be learned and applied to the current crises in the world today?

Professor Lempereur will share insights about humanitarian leaders who were negotiators and organizers and endorsed the responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in the face of war. He will draw on his own work with the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as that of World War II figures such as Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz, John Rabe and others.

 3B The Supreme Court, the Constitution and Brandeis University
Stephen Whitfield, PhD '72
Max Richter Professor of American Civilization

The ways that Brandeis University has helped to shape understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court did not stop with the decision to name this institution of higher learning after the influential "people's attorney" and associate justice of the highest appellate court.

In their earlier legal careers, two Brandeis presidents (Morris B. Abram and Fred Lawrence) tackled the challenges of political representation and freedom of expression. Through both the faculty and alumni, the University has enhanced the scholarship of Constitutional law and has also helped to expand the liberties that the Bill of Rights has guaranteed. Professor Whitfield will discuss some of the historical connections that Brandeis University has established with the Supreme Court and with its mandate to interpret the law wisely.

Session 4
3:20 – 4:35 p.m.

4A Neurobiology of Disease
Avital Rodal
Assistant Professor of Biology

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) are devastating conditions for families, communities and the economy. These diseases arise when nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord grow sick and die. Over the past decade, human genetics, cell biology and neuroscience have provided a wealth of new insight into neurodegenerative disease, opening the door for early detection and intervention before neurons are lost. Professor Rodal will discuss these recent advances in our understanding of the biology of neurodegenerative disease and how they hold promise for new therapies.

 4B The Jewish Legacy of Louis D. Brandeis
Jonathan D. Sarna '75, MA '75

University Professor and Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History

For the first 50-plus years of his life, Louis Brandeis did not belong to a synagogue, socialized mainly with non-Jews and gave minimal gifts to Jewish charities. Yet as a leader of the American Zionist movement, Brandeis transformed the movement's identity, turned it into an effective political force and helped raise an unprecedented amount of money. He became a revered figure in the movement, second only to Theodor Herzl, and followers looked up to him as their prophet. In this session, Professor Sarna will explore the Jewish aspects of Louis Brandeis' life, including his leadership of and influence on the American Zionist movement and how Brandeis connected Zionism to other values he championed, such as democracy and social justice.