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Back to School
Law faculty brave the classroom to explore new subjects, scholarship

Professor Earl Dudley

School is in session for a group unique not only for what they lack—laptops to take notes on—but for what they have—law degrees and years of teaching experience. Several Law School faculty are attending faculty enrichment seminars, two one-week sessions organized by Professor Jody Kraus and taught by Professors John Monahan and John Harrison.

“Although we have ample opportunity to vet scholarly projects with our colleagues, we had few opportunities to learn the fundamentals of core areas of law or other relevant disciplines from them,” Kraus said. As a result, he organized the courses to cater to faculty needs and offer a comprehensive, efficient introduction to the basics in the seminar teacher’s area of expertise.

Monahan’s class, Understanding and Evaluating Empirical Studies, focused on how to formulate an empirical question or hypothesis to test, research methods for gathering information in an empirical study, and interpreting that information.

Harrison is teaching 18th- and 19th- Century Constitutional Theories, but many in his class are not constitutional law scholars.

“They’re people who wanted to know more about this and some who have worked in related fields,” he said, adding that given the nature of American public law, it’s natural for professors to be interested in the subject.

Professor John Harrison teaching 18th- and 19th- Century Constitutional theories

In his class the faculty are given “fairly heavy” reading assignments that explore primary and secondary materials, from historical and legal scholarship to the constitutional debates at the Federal Convention, but are spared from taking an exam and the Socratic method. “I’m confident that faculty have not only done the reading, but done the reading carefully,” he joked.

Professor Elizabeth Magill, who teaches Constitutional Law and Administrative Law, attended both seminars. She attended Monahan’s class because she’s considering working on an empirical scholarly project in administrative law, and feels the Constitutional Theories seminar will enhance her teaching and writing as well.

“It’s an untapped resource,”Magill said of her colleagues. “You don’t often get this level of exposure to their expertise, and we don’t often have the time that we have in summer.”

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