To know the Brandeis University community is to know how passionate its students are about learning. Perhaps this trait is most visible in the wide variety of student-run clubs and organizations that collectively function to inform the public about the most pressing current issues. The newly-founded Brandeis Society for International Affairs seeks to find its place among the array of politically focused clubs on campus. 

BSIA was founded at the beginning of this semester by Eli Wasserman ’20, Daniella Cohen ’18 and Zach Kasdin ’18. Wasserman serves as the club’s president, while Cohen and Kasdin serve as the co-editors of the Brandeis International Journal. BSIA aims to educate students who are interested in international and global affairs by hosting lectures by visiting international relations scholars. The upcoming panels will address topics ranging from global conflict to women’s education in Rwanda. 

In an interview with the Justice, Wasserman distinguished  BSIA from other on-campus organizations, saying, “We’re not a political club … it’s mainly just outreach, networking, socializing and getting to know other people interested in international affairs, while also creating a space for students who want to learn about what’s happening in the world and less taking a stance on what’s happening in the world.” In an email to the Justice, he reiterated the importance of having a space where people of all political affiliations can discuss their ideas. By not advocating a specific political agenda, the organization aims to become more accessible to students of all political persuasions. 

The organization’s origins are also rooted in an emphasis on education and intellectual thought. Before BSIA existed there was, and continues to be, BIJ. According to the the organization’s website, the journal is an “entirely undergraduate run, written, and published International Affairs publication. Every semester we publish original, short-form International Relations and Comparative Politics analysis pieces covering every corner of the globe as well as a unique theme section for each issue.” BSIA will now serve as the umbrella organization for BIJ, taking over the role of networking and marketing for the journal.

Despite the fact that BSIA exists as the result of a pre-existing organization, gaining recognition for the organization itself has proven difficult. Wasserman is still going through the process of qualifying the organization for funding from the University. However, BSIA has received strong support from the International and Global Studies department and has a faculty advising committee that consists of Prof. Sabine von Mering (GRALL), Prof. Chandler Rosenberger (IGS) and Prof. Lucy Goodhart (IGS).

Ultimately, Wasserman hopes that BSIA will spark an interest in international affairs within the Brandeis community. Whether that results in students attending the organization’s events or just reaching out to their professors because they want to learn more, he’s glad to offer students the opportunity to become more educated about issues outside of the United States.

The first BSIA event will be held on Sept. 28 from 7-8p.m. in the Reading Room at the Mandel Center for Humanities. The speaker, Lauren Hartnett, is the senior humanitarian press officer from Oxfam America and will be hosting a conversation about the four famines that are currently affecting Africa. “This is a big deal, I’m very excited,” Wasserman concluded, grinning.