Around Campus

Brandeis: A year in the newsPosted: June 29, 2018
Looking ahead: A Q&A with WSRC Director Karen HansenPosted: June 21, 2018
Karen HansenPhoto/Mike Lovett

Karen Hansen

In July 2017, Professor of Sociology Karen Hansen became just the second person to serve as the director of the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis since it was established in 2001.

Featuring the Scholars Program, the Student-Scholar Partnership Program, and the Arts Program, among other initiatives, the center brings together scholars, students, and faculty who study gender issues and women’s lives. Hansen took some time to talk with BrandeisNow about what she's done in her first year, what she hopes to do in the future, and what she wants people to know about the WSRC.

What has been your primary goal since becoming director of the WSRC?

One of goals in accepting this position was to bring the faculty into the center and bring the center more squarely into campus. There is kind of a structural separation that some centers and institutes on campus are able to cross, but it can be challenging. One of the first things I did was set up a "kitchen cabinet" to advise me on strategic matters related to the university and the Center. It includes representatives from the faculty, the scholars program, and the National Advisory Board. They've met every other month this academic year. The Kitchen Cabinet has focused on how we can build more bridges between the Center and the university and find common intellectual projects. I see the project of integrating the Center with the university as a major priority.

What will that integration ultimately look like?

I think the Student-Scholarship Partnership is a good example of something we would like to build upon. It's a longstanding program that partners undergraduates with scholars and faculty. Through the center, and funding from generous donors, we pay undergraduates for up to 50 hours of research in a semester in partnership with a research scholar. This partnership puts Brandeis students out there in the world, getting their hands dirty doing research, and being enterprising. Through the research, they are building a special mentoring relationship. I have opened the program to faculty as well as WSRC scholars. In the future we would like to expand the SSP to include graduate students as well.

As far as something new, the provost has just awarded us seed money to organize a common intellectual project. This next year, we will be running an interdisciplinary workshop to explore the phenomenon I call cascading – multiple, linked downward mobilities – and its intersectional consequences.  As a process of falling from a particular status, cascading triggers additional declines shaped profoundly by gender and race-ethnicity. Downward mobility is not something experienced by just middle-class white men. Ideally, the workshop will bring people with common interests together to discuss the issues with national leaders in this research.

Has the recent heightened awareness around issues of sexual harassment and gender discrimination placed a greater emphasis on the need for the type of research coming out of the WSRC?

Without question. The erupting evidence of workplace sexual harassment reveals how extensive it is and the importance of studying gender and racial-ethnic inequality in all its forms, but particularly how men exercise power and the multiple negative consequences for women's employment and well-being. Not only do we have to study power, working conditions, and the repercussions of various kinds of harassment and violence directed against women, but we have to insist on changing destructive and exclusionary practices. 

What is the one thing you want people on campus to know about the center?

The center is here to further the mission of the university and the faculty, to engage in discovery and research and to educate the next generation of scholars. The doors are open.

Two Brandeis professors win Mass Cultural Council FellowshipsPosted: June 13, 2018
Caitlin Rubin (assistant curator at the Rose), Sarah Lubin PB'08, Susan Lichtman, Tory Fair.Photo/courtesy, Susan Lichtman

Caitlin Rubin, assistant curator at the Rose; Sarah Lubin; Susan Lichtman; and Tory Fair at the State House for the Mass Cultural Council award.

Brandeis professors Tory Fair and Susan Lichtman have each been named recipients of Mass Cultural Council 2018 Artist Fellowships.

The annual fellowships are awarded by anonymous judges in six categories: choreography, fiction/creative nonfiction, painting, drawing and printmaking, poetry and traditional arts.

Fair, associate professor of sculpture, was awarded a fellowship in the drawing and printmaking category. Lichtman, Charles Bloom Chair in the Arts of Design, was awarded a fellowship in the painting category.

Winners were selected based on the creative ability and artistic quality of the submitted work. Applications were open to all eligible Massachusetts artists. In all, 19 artists received fellowships and 17 were named finalists out of a pool of over 900 applicants. Fellowship winners were awarded $12,000 each, and finalists were awarded $1,000. Along with Fair and Lichtman, Sarah Lubin, who received a post-baccalaureate certificate in studio art in 2008, was named a finalist in the painting category.

The Mass Cultural Council website features an online showcase of winners and finalists, including works from Fair and Lichtman.

New York Review of Books recognizes published work by Brandeis University PressPosted: June 12, 2018

The New York Review of Books highlighted a quartet of literary works about famed Zionist Gershom Scholem in its June 2018 edition.

Among the works featured is “Gershom Scholem: From Berlin to Jerusalem” by Noam Zadoff, translated by Jeffrey Green and published by Brandeis University Press.

Zadoff’s book offers a close look at Scholem’s family life with a particular emphasis on his identity as a German immigrant.

Scholem, a philosopher and historian, is credited by many as the father of Kabbalah, a type of Jewish mysticism.

Citing Zadoff’s research, Adam Kirsch of the New York Review of Books explains that Scholem was “A man who spent his whole life in the study of Judaism yet never practiced it, while still claiming to believe in God; who dedicated his life to Zionism yet was disappointed in what Zionism created; who wrote about obscure texts and ideas yet made them feel dramatic and urgently relevant.”

Kirsch’s complete review is available at the New York Review of Books.

Brandeis set to 'Turn it Off' this summerPosted: June 1, 2018

This summer, Brandeis will again encourage community members to “Turn It Off” – its annual, university-wide campaign designed to reduce campus energy use during heat waves when electricity demand rises to its highest levels.

Reducing electricity use during peak times results in environmental gains as well as financial savings. In New England, electricity demand during very hot days necessitates the operation of older, oil- and coal-fired power plants, leading to an increase in air pollution and some of the most carbon-intense ​​days for the electric grid.

Through previous Turn It Off initiatives, Brandeis has seen as much as a 20-percent decrease in its peak day electricity demands.

The community’s combined efforts demonstrate that individual conservation actions do add up to meaningful results​​. ​​Because the university’s year-round electricity rates are partially based on our demand during the summer’s hottest days, our success in this year’s Turn It Off Program may result in significant savings in Brandeis’ electric bills in the future.

To​ continue the success​ of Turn It Off, Brandeis needs help from every community member.

  • On the days that are predicted to be the summer’s hottest, community members will be alerted via email to “Turn It Off” by:
  • Turning off unnecessary lights in offices, classrooms, laboratories and hallways — this simple action will have the most impact.
  • Shutting windows and exterior doors.
  • Pulling down shades and closing blinds.
  • Shutting off unnecessary computers, printers and other energy-consuming equipment.
  • Refraining from charging portable devices.
  • Unplugging everything you can from wall outlets, even if the device is shut off.
  • Being tolerant of higher temperatures across the entire campus as we raise building temperatures a bit between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. (The temperature inside particularly temperature-sensitive areas will not be raised).

Anyone with questions about "Turn It Off" should contact sustainability manager Mary Fischer.

Conference takes a fresh look at the “insides” of Jewish day schoolsPosted: May 4, 2018
More than 70 scholars of Jewish education, Jewish day school leaders, philanthropists, and other educators gathered at Brandeis on Monday, April 30 and Tuesday, May 1 for “Inside Jewish Day Schools,” the first conference of its kind to focus on teaching and learning in the Jewish day school environment.

The conference was hosted by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, with support from the AVI CHAI Foundation, and was co-chaired by Brandeis professors Jon A. Levisohn and Jonathan B. Krasner. Participants discussed the purposes of day school education, the aspirations of its practitioners, and the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of its students and alumni, as well as some of the central challenges facing educators within the Jewish day school environment, in order to generate a broader conversation about teaching and learning in these schools.

“This was an opportunity for experts in the field to share the state of our knowledge and for the presentation of cutting-edge research by both researchers and, notably, practitioners as well,” said Jon Levisohn. Referring to plenary sessions at the conference that explored race and ethnicity, class and economic justice, and gender and sexuality, he added, “We were able to pursue a set of conversations that don’t typically happen in the Jewish day school community—or if they do, they occur at the margins, not at the center.”

Jonathan Krasner concurred. “The conference succeeded in laying the groundwork for crucial conversations around race, equity, class privilege and gender identity that we need to be having in Jewish day schools. I anticipate that its impact will also reverberate in the scholarly research agenda around teaching and learning and school culture.”

In addition, scholars and practitioners presented their current research in breakout sessions. These included presentations on pluralism, teacher preparation, and teachers’ conceptions of purposes, as well as the teaching and learning of classical Jewish texts, Hebrew language, and Israel.

Rivka Press Schwartz, associate principal of SAR High School in the Bronx and a published scholar in the history of science, said “Because of my own particular educational and professional trajectory, I have little exposure to or knowledge of the academic work and literature around Jewish education, and this conference gave me a great deal to think about.”

“It was a gift to have the opportunity to hear about the research being done in the field, to re-connect with so many excellent progressive education minded peers, and to meet new ones,” said Amanda Pogany, head of school of Luria Academy of Brooklyn.

Ideas and insights from the conference have already started to circulate through the Jewish day school world through social media, and a number of short online articles will be forthcoming. In addition, Levisohn and Krasner plan to publish a selection of papers from the conference in an edited volume.
Provost Lisa Lynch: Brandeis remains fully committed to Brandeis University PressPosted: April 20, 2018
Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to let you know about some changes related to how the Brandeis University Press will operate going forward.

Brandeis has been part of The University Press of New England (UPNE) consortium, which was founded in 1970 and at one point included as many as 10 member institutions. Over time, membership in UPNE dwindled, and Dartmouth and Brandeis have been the sole members of the consortium for the last two years. UPNE has been based in Lebanon, NH, and its staff are employees of Dartmouth College. With only two members, the consortium became financially unsustainable, and yesterday, April 17, the UPNE Board of Governors voted to dissolve the consortium and close the press. As a result, UPNE will wind down its operations by the end of the calendar year.

I want you to know that Brandeis remains fully committed to the future of Brandeis University Press. BUP will maintain current books in press or under review and continue to support its growing portfolio of books covering diverse subjects and perspectives. We are currently engaged in discussions to quickly find alternative arrangements to secure the Brandeis University Press imprint into the future, and we will announce those arrangements as soon as they are finalized.

Brandeis University Press publishes critically acclaimed, award-winning books covering diverse subjects and perspectives relating to politics, culture, history, gender, religion, philosophy, language, and literature. This includes books in the Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life, the Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought, the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion, and Law, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Series on Jewish Women, The Mandel Lectures in the Humanities, the Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures, the Schusterman Series in Israel Studies, and the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry Series.

BUP is an important part of our institutional mission and I look forward to its next chapter.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns about these changes.

Best regards,


Lisa M. Lynch