Class Sessions

Session 1

9:45 – 11:00 a.m.

Why America Should Pivot Toward Latin America
Bruce R. Magid, P'15
Dean, Brandeis International Business School and Martin and Ahuva Gross Chair in Financial Markets and Institutions

The Obama administration recently announced a "Pivot to East Asia," representing a significant shift in American foreign policy designed to strengthen U.S. security and economic interests by fostering trade and investment and regional cooperation.

Dean Magid, who lived and worked in Latin America, believes the "pivot" should be south. There are increasing cultural ties between the U.S. and Latin America. At present, 17% of the U.S. population is Hispanic and the percentage is expected to rise to 30% by 2050. In addition, the region's natural resources and increasing middle class present opportunities for expanded trade and growth.

Dean Magid will discuss his outlook for the region, why he is bullish on the long-term potential for expanded relations and how the Brandeis International Business School is building alliances and partnerships in the region.

Session 2alumni college

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Listening to the World's Musics
Judith Eissenberg
Professor of the Practice of Music

“Every time I open a newspaper, I am reminded that we live in a world where we can no longer afford not to know our neighbors.”   
Yo-Yo Ma

Every culture we know of has music of some kind. Why? What is music? Why do humans need music? How do we use it in our lives? What does the music tell us about the people who play it, dance to it and listen to it? How do the embedded aesthetics in the music reflect social and cultural values of a culture or society? Are there universals in music?

Join Professor Eissenberg, violinist of the Lydian String Quartet and founder/ director of MusicUnitesUS, Brandeis' world music program, in musical explorations across place and time.

Is There an Obama Generation?: The Shifting Landscape of Racial Attitudes in the U.S.

Jill Greenlee
Assistant Professor of Politics

Scholars and pundits have attributed the election of the nation's first African-American president to changing racial attitudes in the U.S., but might the political ascent of President Obama also be a catalyst for further change in racial attitudes?  Professor Greenlee will discuss how the rise of Barack Obama, the dynamics of political socialization and the phenomenon of generational replacement collide to produce a nation on track for a more racially egalitarian future. Specifically, she will discuss the possible rise of an "Obama generation" – a cohort of young Americans who came of age during Barack Obama's political ascent – and will explore the implications that this cohort's unique views have for the nation as a whole.

Session 3

2:00 – 3:15 p.m.

How to Read a Book: Novelists, Anthropologists and Their Readers
John Plotz
Professor of English
Elizabeth Ferry
Associate Professor of Anthropology

How do you read a novel or an ethnography (a non-fiction work of anthropology, based on fieldwork)? This session will look at the unspoken rules and pacts for reading different kinds of texts and explore how an understanding of what kind of text we are reading influences the way we read. We will first discuss a short piece by the sociologist Erving Goffman on "framing" to understand what pacts are made between author and reader in a text. We will then read excerpts from a few well-known novels and ethnographies (by Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Bronislaw Malinowski and Philippe Bourgois) to discuss how we expect them to depict the world, what rules they may follow and what happens if those rules are broken.

Race, War and Remembrance: Reflections on the Meaning of the Civil War and World War I
Chad Williams
Associate Professor of African & Afro-American Studies

The United States is currently in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, and 2014 will mark the beginning of the 100th anniversary of World War I.  While defining events in the history of the United States - and the world - we tend to remember these two wars in very different ways. Why is this the case? Professor Williams will explore the place of the Civil War and World War I in the nation's collective memory and what they reveal about our past, present and future understandings of the relationship between race, freedom and democracy.

Session 4

3:30 – 4:45 p.m.

Enigmas and Evolution
James Morris
Associate Professor of Biology

There are many aspects of the natural world that don't seem to make sense at first glance. Why are organisms so different from one another, yet have many points in common? How is it that there are innumerable examples of struggle and competition, but also cooperation and self-sacrifice? Why do organisms have remarkable adaptations, such as the human eye, as well as anomalies, including the fact that our windpipe and esophagus cross so that food sometimes "goes down the wrong pipe"? In this fun and participatory session, Professor Morris will highlight these and other enigmas, and suggest that evolution provides a way to make sense of these seemingly contradictory aspects of the natural world.

Looking Ahead: American Judaism in the 21st Century
Jonathan D. Sarna '75, MA '75
Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and Chair, Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program

What are the central issues facing the American Jewish community in the decades ahead?  In this provocative presentation, historian Jonathan D. Sarna examines key trends affecting Jewish life, particularly lesser-known economic, demographic and religious changes that will affect American Jewry in the 21st century and beyond.