Version 2 of How to Be a Better Chair of an Academic Panel

For those who liked the original “How to be a better Chair of an academic panel” handout, here’s version 2, enriched via crowdsourcing.  New thoughts about keeping time (we’ve got signs for you, download here) some science (“calling on a woman to ask the first question will increase the number of women who ask questions: Carter, Croft, Lukas & Sandstrom, Women’s visibility in academic seminars: women ask fewer questions than men. Available at http://bit.ly/2JQfhiw”) and a gentle reminder that you don’t have to call on people in order, nor do you have to let the first person with their hand up ask the first question.

Get it and share it in DOCX Format   PDF Format

Thanks to all of you who chimed in via twitter and other modes!  And to those of you who wondered why we don’t take on the whole organization of academic conferences, we agree there is space for someone out there to do a “Just have a better CONFERENCE” tipsheet.  We’re looking forward to it.

page 1 of document as photo, available in PDF and DOCX form in this post.

Critical Theory for the Future | Conversations for the Future

 

UPDATED July 26 2018

Here’s OHLS grad program LLM Candidate Lara Tessaro on the ideas we heard at the event:

On June 6, 2018, Dayna Nadine Scott and the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies drew together a group of feminist scholars to share their thoughts and prescriptions on how to approach Critical Theory for the Anthropocene Future. How, they were asked, can we simultaneously reckon with environmental violence and inequalities, while nonetheless collectively rejecting the catastrophism so often invoked by Anthropocene narratives?

The evening began with Crystal Sinclair (Nehiyaw), an artist, hand drummer, facilitator, organizer, water protector, land defender, Indigenous rights activist and member of the Idle No More movement. Crystal shared some Nehiyaw histories, and acknowledged the territory on which we were gathered.

Then Dayna introduced the event’s themes. She noted that we have all had to come to terms with the “Anthropocene era” – the geologic age of humans – as we confront the profound impact that humans have had on the planet, with its apparent ecological boundaries and limits. Proponents of the Anthropocene want us to fear our demise, she said, and indeed, she admitted that we sometimes get caught dreaming about a world without humans in it. Other times, “we try to dream into being bold, beautiful, feminist, decolonial visions of a future on this planet – thriving in the Anthropocene or flourishing after the Anthropocene”. Dayna mused about the “strikeout” of the term Anthropocene in the title of the event, saying that it was meant to signal that this term is only ever shorthand. While the concept immediately brings to mind planetary boundaries and ecosystem survival, and in some ways challenges people to change their course, it also “throws us all into a bucket called “humanity” that erases past and present inhumanity, colonialisms and oppressions”. Each of the evening’s four speakers has influenced our thinking on these themes over the past several years, from different disciplines and perspectives, and each offers critical insights for a better future.

Dayna mentioned that her own engagement with these themes began through a growing dissatisfaction with the way that many legal scholars think about the future. Referring to her recent paper co-authored with Jess Eisen and Roxanne Mykitiuk, she recalled the environmental law doctrine of intergenerational equity, which provides that current generations hold the planet in trust from previous generations and for future generations – meaning that people living today have obligations to people living in the future. Yet this necessarily raises the questions: “Which people living today? What obligations? What will people in the future need? What new and old oppressions will characterize the future? And why only people?”

The first speaker, Angela P. Harris, is a foundational voice in critical race feminism. She has considered implications of the “Anthropocene” for critical legal theory, taking it as an opportunity to inject anti-subordination imperatives into vulnerability theory. In her comments, Angela compellingly assembled the movements that label themselves with the word justice – whether environmental justice, reproductive justice, food justice, land justice, climate justice, or data justice. Following Paola Bacchetta, she encouraged us to theorize these movements as “X Justice”, in which X is the embrace of the unknown and unknowable future. She also urged us to stay with the vague “etcetera” that often clings to the end of our accounts of identities. Compounded, these two commitments make “etcetera and the X”. All these X movements share commitments to undermining white settler law. Angela theorized that white settler law operates through two distinct modes of power: subjection (think corporations, states, persons, wild animals, farmed animals, children) and spatialization (think Canada, US, ghetto, wilderness, private sphere, public sphere, market, state). She concluded by identifying ways in which X justice movements and scholars are undermining these two dynamics, making space for anticolonial and decolonial work.

Next up was Zoe Todd (Métis), an anthropologist and fish philosopher who has helped people see how the “ontological turn” in anthropology and other disciplines is indebted to Indigenous worldviews. Zoe contributed virtually through a video recording. She first read a condensed version of a 2017 piece on relationality in Métis worldviews. Métis legal-governance traditions draw on the Nehiyaw (or Cree) legal principle of wahkohtowin, which, as described by Métis historian Brenda MacDougall, is “predicated upon a specific Aboriginal notion and definition of family as a broadly conceived sense of relatedness of all beings, human and non-human, living and dead, physical and spiritual.” Grounded in wahkohtowin, Métis life centers on tending to relations. Zoe described how she came to understand this all the better after living in the UK, where she learned what it is to be unclaimed: “Without relations, without someone to claim me, and without people to claim, I am nothing.” Zoe then shared her playful and moving poem the Tenderness Manifesto, in which she (at)tends to the multivalent meanings and affects of tender and tenderness (spurring some lawyers in the room to ponder the care-full act of tendering evidence). through a witness).

 

During a break to congregate and contemplate with colleagues old and new – and for refreshment and nourishment (much thanks to the Gladstone for staging the evening so smoothly) – audience members were encouraged to write down and pop in a box any questions they had for the speakers. For those interested in novel chairing techniques, check out the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies’ ongoing experiment with fairer modes of chairing panels.

The second round of speakers began with Usha Natarajan, an international law scholar who works within Third World Approaches to International Law (or TWAIL), a movement that exposes the ongoing coloniality of international law. Usha began by outlining different ways that international lawyers have responded to environmental degradation. Emphasizing that environmental harms have been created by the North, some lawyers in the South have proclaimed principles such as “common but differentiated responsibility”, now successfully reflected in multilateral environmental agreements. Some critical postcolonial scholars have pointed to how the North has refused to live up to these obligations; while these concerns are valid, this postcolonial critique has not helped to tackle environmental degradation. It has a certain tactical value, allowing resistance to the mainstream’s obsessive focus on climate change as a distraction from underlying inequities (here, she recalled how Manhattan emits more greenhouse gases than all of sub-Saharan Africa, yet humans and nonhumans in these countries experience the brunt of unmitigated climate change). However, focusing only on redistributions of power and wealth will not likely provide solutions to climate change; ultimately, more fundamental changes are needed in our ways of knowing the world. Yet our legal concepts remain wedded to environmental destruction. Sovereignty, for example, is fully dependent upon sovereign states mastering nature. The concept of human rights further atomizes the world into rights-bearing individuals abstracted and demarcated from our natural environments and other species. Usha ended her comments by reminding us that nature has laws of its own, available to us if we listen.

Michelle Murphy, the evening’s final speaker, is a Métis technoscience studies scholar working on environmental and reproductive justice, data politics, race, and colonialism. With many collaborators, including through the Technoscience Research Unit, she seeks to reconceive chemicals and enact decolonial futures. Posing the question “how does environmental data manifest settler colonialism and racial capitalism”, Michelle wants to consider “ways of working with and against data towards better land-body relations”. To illustrate these “infrastructures of gaslighting”, she chronicled a history of the Imperial Oil refinery in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley – including a massive 2017 flaring event that Vanessa Gray of Aamjiwnaang, with help from Ecojustice, is working to remedy. Chemical Valley is embedded in scientific legacies of how we study and monitor chemicals – one chemical at a time, narrowly prescribed effects, dose-response curves. While activists feel compelled to use the resulting state-reported data to generate environmental justice arguments, Michelle asks: “What if the objects we think (with) are in the world are wrong?” Following Eve Tuck and Audra Simpson, unthinking chemicals also requires refusing damage-based research. Moreover, by refusing to apprehend chemicals as small and individual, we can embrace new ways to depict the extensive and expansive chemical relations in which we are entangled.

When opening a collective conversation, Dayna joked that she was not sure the speakers had followed her direction to be hopeful – which produced some profitable pushback. Angela noted, when confronted with students’ feelings of hopelessness, that rather than let uncertain futures foster fear, she stresses how uncertainty is always also possibility. Insisting that her talk was hopeful, Michelle celebrated the liberation that comes from “naming better concepts” and from the recognition that researchers do not have to work with decontextualized, atomistic objects –  like “chemicals” – but can reorient their research around relations. Asked whether this might redeem the object of “law”, Usha reminded us that the products of all disciplines are inadequate – though imagination, art, and literature can help us to articulate things otherwise.

Sonia Lawrence said that she, for one, had experienced the evening as being truly hopeful. Sonia thanked the humans and institutions that had made the event possible. In addition to the four speakers and Crystal Sinclair, she thanked the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, York University MES student Garance Malivel, Osgoode Hall JD student Graham Reeder, Ashley Bell of Osgoode Hall, Suzette Collaird of the Gladstone, and the roomful of those who had gathered to contemplate Critical Theory for the Anthropocene Future

Lara Tessaro

bone picking | ugh twitter, international networks and academic housework

[this post was edited for typos and errors, july 11]

[edited again for NEWS july 12]

ONE:

It is a good thing that Freya talked to me. When I looked, the feed broke down in late 2017, so even the small number of posts I have done haven’t been being pushed out by email via feedburner. Working on this technical problem as we speak and apologies to all the feed based subscribers, who probably aren’t reading this anyway!

so Freya Kodar of UVic law  just stopped me in the LSA2018 lobby and after some pleasant conversation about important and real things, said “I have a bone to pick with you”.   TL;DR, my heart restarted, i should figure out what i’m acting so guilty about, and the bone was just  twitter/communication from IFLS and the shift from blog-delivered-by-email to twitter.

So in the beginning there was a blog, and I was in a place in my life outside of work where sustained things were feeling highly disrupted by family responsibilities including but not limited to small kids.  Putting things on the internet about other people’s work and issues was a way for me to stay connected and au courant when I was worried i would never again be able to do sustained writing.  Then things shifted and twitter arrived and that was more mobile and i would sometimes remember to do roundups of the IFLS twitter feed (which is actually pushed through the IFLS FB page – otherwise not maintained) and clean out the chatter, leaving the links and announcements and things with at least some substance.  Those roundups were produced with Storify, which is no more (https://storify.com/faq-eol).

I know i need a solution for this, because i do think that one of the things IFLS can/should do is highlight new legal feminist scholarship, to share interesting news,  to post items that might otherwise be hard to come by, etc. etc.    So it’s on my list of things to do this summer.   A partial solution (it isn’t really but) is this: if you want to see the IFLS twitter feed, i just opened up my google drive catalogue of the tweets which is a google sheets (google excel) file.  Access open here.  It seems likely that you need to sign in to google to do this which is why it’s not a real solution plus you have to read through a ridiculous amount of tweeting (i started this file to try to make sure i was paying attention to what a time suck twitter was, but it didn’t help).  It’s here.  And thanks Freya, for reminding me that this was something i was “dealing with”! Continue reading bone picking | ugh twitter, international networks and academic housework

A reading list on Legal Education: Guest post from SJ Nussbaum

Guest post from Osgoode PhD2, IFLS reading group member, GLSA conference organizer etc, Sarah-jane Nussbaum. Sarah-jane and I are really interested in your suggestions for important readings – I’m looking for new (but send your classics) work on race  gender in legal education. -sonia

Thinking about Law Teaching: A Legal Education Reading Group &A Reading List (a starting place) on Legal Education and Pedagogy

Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, I had the pleasure of facilitating a peer-led legal education reading group for Osgoode Hall Law School’s Graduate Program in Law. The idea to develop the reading group arose in collaboration with Professor Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode’s Graduate Program Director. We invited graduate students and faculty members to join informal meeting sessions aimed at fostering reflection on legal education and pedagogy. Session themes were chosen collectively, with members of the group sharing input on the types of topics they wished to explore.

Listed below are the readings we covered during this year’s sessions. I am tremendously grateful to reading group participants and Osgoode faculty members for introducing me to a number of the resources on this list, and for contributing to thoughtful and engaging discussions. Through our four sessions, we barely began to scratch the surface of the range of topics proposed and the wealth of literature available. The list below is meant to offer a sample of some exceptional, novel, and timely readings on legal education and pedagogy. I hope it might be helpful to anyone interested in tracking down materials on legal education, dipping into some of the scholarship, or developing a similar reading group!

I plan to continue facilitating the reading group at Osgoode this coming year, and I will post readings as the sessions unfold. I would also be grateful for any suggestions, ideas, and thoughts [you can put these in the comments, or write to Sarah-jane directly, her email is on the downloadable reading list]

— Sarah-jane Nussbaum, PhD Student, Osgoode Hall Law School

 

September 21, 2017

RA Macdonald, Book Review of Introduction to the Study of Law by SM Waddams, (1981) 31 UTLJ 436.

Julian Webb, “The ‘Ambitious Modesty’ of Harry Arthurs’ Humane Professionalism” (2006) 44:1 Osgoode Hall LJ 119.

October 2, 2017

Alli Gerkman & Logan Cornett, Foundations for Practice: The Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient (Denver: Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, 2016), online: <http://iaals.du.edu/sites/default/files/reports/foundations_for_practice_whole_lawyer_character_quotient.pdf>.

Mari J Matsuda, “Admit That the Waters Around You Have Grown: Change and Legal Education” (2014) 89:4 Ind LJ 1381.

November 24, 2017

Ruthann Robson, “Enhancing Reciprocal Synergies Between Teaching and Scholarship” (2015) 64:3 J Leg Educ 480.

Heidi Holland, “Utilizing Various Learning Styles and Repetition to Enhance Understanding”, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, Law Teaching Blog, online: <http://lawteaching.org/2017/02/28/gutilizing-various-learning-styles-and-repetition-to-enhance-understanding/>

Heather K. Gerken, “How to Teach the Socratic Method with a Heart” (Fall 2014) 21:1 The Law Teacher 24.

Sophie Sparrow, “Making Time for Students to Think” (Spring 2016) 22:2 The Law Teacher 16.

Steven I. Friedland, “Teaching Beyond Boundaries: Using Signature Pedagogies to Enhance Learning Outcomes” (Fall 2015) 22:1 The Law Teacher 25.

Nancy Levit, “Teaching to Engage” (Spring 2014) 20:2 The Law Teacher 7.

Note: The Law Teacher articles are all available electronically on the Institute for Law Teaching website: <http://lawteaching.org/the-law-teacher/>

February 5, 2018

Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (Winnipeg, 2015), online: <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf>. See especially Calls to Action #28, 50.

Jeffery G Hewitt, “Decolonizing and Indigenizing: Some Considerations for Law Schools” (2016) 33:1 Windsor YB Access Just 65.

Karen Drake, “Finding a Path to Reconciliation: Mandatory Indigenous Law, Anishinaabe Pedagogy, and Academic Freedom” (2017) 95:1 Can Bar Rev 9.