Saturday, December 22, 2018

Call for Papers: Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association 5th Annual Conference 12 - 13 September 2019 .

2019 Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association at Essex
December 21, 2018 / hrcessex

Tara Van Ho

Next year, the University of Essex School of Law and Human Rights Centre will host the 2019 Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association, 12-13 September 2019.

This is a workshop to discuss research-in-progress; papers must be unpublished at the time of presentation. In addition to presenting a paper at the conference, participants are expected to read and be prepared to comment on and discuss the papers of other participants.

Papers may be presented in English, Spanish or French. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 March 2019. If sufficient proposals are made, a panel in Portuguese will also be organized. The working language for common sessions will be English.

The call for papers (in pdf) is below in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Call for Papers – 2019 gbhrsa – final English
Call for Papers – 2019 gbhrsa – final French
Call for Papers – 2019 gbhrsa – final Portuguese
Call for Papers – 2019 gbhrsa – final Spanish

Friday, December 14, 2018

Call for Papers and Panels: ICON-S Conference 1-3 July 2019, Santiago Chile

ICON·S Conference
"Public Law in Times of Change?"
July 1-3, 2019


Dear Member of ICON·S,
ICON·S | The International Society of Public Law is pleased to announce that its 2019 Annual Conference will be held at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, on July 1-3, 2019. This will be the sixth Annual Conference of ICON·S, following the five Annual Conferences (Florence 2014, New York 2015, Berlin 2016, Copenhagen 2017, Hong Kong 2018) which have been overwhelmingly successful, thanks to the support of our Members.

ICON·S now invites panel and paper submissions for the 2019 Annual Conference on "Public Law in Times of Change?".

Public law is facing a myriad of new challenges – including rising popular distrust in government, increasingly closed borders, and complex economic and technological change. We are arguably living in hard times for global public law. But will these challenges result in radical changes to the field as we know it, or will public law adapt and respond in ways that reinterpret and reinvigorate its core commitments to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in a manner that is continuous with our current practices?

Countries around the world are witnessing the reversal of longstanding democratic gains, and new authoritarian threats. Yet there are signs of resilience in the global and national public law order: popular referenda have delivered gains as well as losses for democracy; women and young people have marched in defence of public law values; and justice is being crowd-sourced and data-driven, not just undermined by foreign cyber-attacks and “fake news”.

Under the strain of technological changes and shifts in economic globalisation, the world is also confronting large-scale changes in the structure and scope of global governance and of the “administrative” state. The Welfare State is under “siege” and at both international and domestic levels the problem of economic injustice is dominating the political and socio-economic debate around the globe.

International and regional bodies are re-orienting their focus to respond to these new challenges. And commitments to constitutional and administrative reform likewise remain strong in many legal orders. They continue to engage in formal processes of constitutional review, often as part of a transition from authoritarian to democratic, and colonial to post-colonial rule: from Chile to Myanmar, Bolivia to Tuvalu, Yemen to Sudan, and from the Philippines to Gambia. Many countries are actively debating proposals for major constitutional and legal reform. Others are grappling with the legacies of past reforms and transitions, and asking whether they were sufficient to address legacies of colonialism, and the abuse of human rights, and flagrant disregard for the rule of law.

But how far can public law go in responding to these issues? Are the sources of the current democratic crisis so deeply economic and structural that they evade any meaningful public law response? Are they rooted in debates over national identity and borders, which public law can address only partially and indirectly at best? Or does public law have the resources to adapt and respond to these challenges? Can public law, for example, help shape the future direction of state and global governance, or will changes in national and international governance in fact reshape public law as we know it?

This Annual Conference will seek to address these and related issues, bringing together leading scholars, political leaders and jurists from around the world to debate these questions, and their relevance to Latin America, their own countries, and the world.

The Conference will feature a keynote address by Justice Luís Roberto Barroso of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil, as well as three plenary sessions featuring prominent jurists, intellectuals and judges, focused on the general themes of the Conference. A provisional programme can be found here. At the heart of the Conference, however, are the concurrent sessions during the three-day conference which will be devoted to the papers and panels selected through this Call.

ICON·S particularly welcomes proposals for fully-formed panels, but also accepts individual papers dealing with any aspect of the Annual Conference’s themes. Paper and panel proposals may focus on any theoretical, historical, comparative, empirical, jurisprudential, ethical, behavioral, ethnographic, philosophical or practical, policy-oriented perspective related to public law, including administrative law, constitutional law, international law, criminal law, immigration and citizenship law and human rights and may address domestic, subnational, national, regional, transnational, supranational, international and global aspects of public law.

We strongly encourage the submission of fully-formed panels. Panel proposals should include at least three papers by scholars who have agreed in advance to participate, and panels must be formed in accordance with the Society’s commitment to gender balance. Such fully-formed panel proposals should also identify one or two discussants, who may also serve as panel chair and/or paper presenter. Please kindly note that each participant can present not more than 2 papers and participate – as presenter, chair or discussant – in 4 panels maximum.

Proposals of fully formed panels may be made of – or include some – papers written and presented in Spanish. In these latter cases, paper abstracts and/or panel description must in any event be submitted in English.

Concurrent panel sessions will be scheduled over two days. Each concurrent panel session will be scheduled for 90 minutes.

We invite potential participants to refer to the ICON·S Mission Statementwhen choosing a topic or approach for their papers or panels.

ICON·S is by no means restricted to public lawyers! We particularly welcome panel proposals that offer genuinely multi-disciplinary perspectives from various areas of law (including civil, criminal, tax, and labor law), as well as from scholars in the humanities and the social sciences (e.g. history, economics, political science, sociology) with an interest in the Conference’s themes. We welcome submissions from both senior and junior scholars (including doctoral students) as well as interested practitioners.

All submissions must be made through the ICON·S website by March 9, 2019.
Submit your Panel or Paper

Successful applicants will be notified by April 1, 2019.

All participants will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.

We very much look forward to receiving your paper and panel proposals.

See you at ICON·S Santiago 2019!

Lorenzo Casini & Rosalind Dixon
Co-Presidents of ICON·S

Richard Albert, Gráinne de Búrca, Mariana Canales, Claudia Golden, Ran Hirschl, David Landau, Ruth Rubio Marin, Francisco Urbina, Cristián Valenzuela, Sergio Verdugo, Joseph Weiler and Fred Felix Zaumseil
Members of the ICON·S 2019 Organizing Committee

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The AAUP Will Now Investigate the Mass Terminations at Vermont Law School

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

Some time ago I wrote about the implications of the mass terminations at Vermont Law School (Thoughts on Mass Tenure Revocation at Vermont Law School in the Shadow of the Market and Beyond Shared Governance). For that post, I offered
some brief thoughts on what is likely to be a very useful and evolving addition to the toolkit of administrators as they continue the hard task of commodifying and capitalizing education within what is still nostalgically referenced as "the university." The focus is not on the lawyering of protection for those faculty with respect to whom tenure has been made a mockery, though one clothed in the delightfully unctuous ululations of administrator speak. Rather the reflections here focus on the ways in which these actions evidence more generally a perhaps significant changes of power relations within an institution in which the notions of traditional shared governance has withered away.  The character of that withering away is itself of interest, as the successful de-professionalization of the faculty has opened the way for their replacement in governance by an emerging corps of professional administrators only some of whom are drawn from their ranks who (ironically) remain protected by tenure. 

Like most scandals of its kind, the scandal appeared to have a very short half life.  It was just another marker on the road to the unwinding of the American university, and its re-constitution as a learning factory within which administrators could preside over a  large factory, not so much producing knowledge--as disseminating enough of it so that its objects might be successfully inserted in appropriate slots in the American wage labor markets. To that end, tenure is an impediment--a marker of a quite different and disappearing way of life that can no longer be justified within the emerging business model of the contemporary university.  

That business model, in turn, is increasingly a function of quite straightforward quantitative markers. These were once proxies for quality; they have now become the incarnation of the quality they were meant to measure. These proxies now tell the tale of the contemporary university, not just in the measure of its production, but also in its dissemination of knowledge and in the "results" that dissemination produces for its consumers.  The value of knowledge dissemination is measured the momentary connection between the knowledge consumer and the objective for which consumption is undertaken--employment. Value is measured over time, with particular emphasis on the value of an initial insertion into wage labor markets.  Value itself is measurable in money; it is measured in the present value of anticipated earning, and in rates of return to the university--alumni donations, and the value of networks through which future students may be successfully inserted in wage labor markets, for example. The value of the quality of earning is also measured by proxy--through a detailed classifications of the status of the employment which itself serves as proxies for the value of dissemination programs. 

The value of knowledge production is measured by dollars. It's impact is now understood as a species of "clickbait," the value of which is to enhance the clickable potential of that which follows, which relentless follows, with regard only to time. For if time is now money, then the efficient use of time is measured by the artifacts, by the measurable things, with which it may be filled--graduation rates, bar passage rates, employment rates, citation rates, production rates, grant award rates, invitation rates, mention rates, collaboration rates. Quality has become its proxy precisely because it is the proxy that is valued. And in this inversion emerges the new business model of the university.  The inevitable consequence will be a parade of variations on the theme so scandalously elaborated in Vermont.

Now the AAUP has announced that it will investigate this action at Vermont Law School. It is necessary in the way that rear guard action is necessary slow the speed of transformation. And to be sure, such transformation will affect those very few institutions designated as the nurseries of power. And the forms of production will remain vibrant, as the producers of knowledge--ever sensitive to incentive and market forces--will adjust the quality of their production to suit the times. That is as it should be; but to that end, the model grounded in tenure (and its protections) will become increasingly irrelevant, except at the margins. Still, long after it will have effectively ceased to serve much of a function, its mythology will continue to inspire those who will be recruited into the learning factories that are now emerging.  Fading institutions retain their form long after its substance has vanished.  

The announcement follows.   We should all look forward to its results. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gender on Campus--New Essays From Academe Magazine

My friends at the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have just released the latest issue of their signature magazine--Academe.  There are some very interesting essays worth reading.  The specific focus for this issue is gender in the academy, and the conceptual context is intersectionality analysis (my recent take here on intersectionality analysis).

Here is what they had to say about the issue:

This issue of Academe uses the feminist concept of intersectionality to consider gender on campus in relation to race, class, and other categories that shape our understanding of higher education. Contributors reframe problems such as sexual violence, declining access to public education, the vulnerability of contingent faculty, and the exploitation of graduate student labor through the lens of intersectional solidarity.
The links to the features follow.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

From the AUP: Academic Freedom and Tenure: St. Edward’s University (Texas)

Even as the nature of university education change, and its forms and functions along with it, there is sometimes some reassurance from knowing that things never change. But reassurance is only short lived, In the case of university administrators with thin skins and no appetite for criticism, shared governance continues to be increasingly incompatible with governance models that are based on hierarchy whose principal mission is compliance and risk mitigation. It is with that in mind that the AAUP presents yet another casualty in the long slow decline of shared governance and its transformation into something else.

The recently circulated Press Release announces:

Calling general conditions for academic freedom and governance at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, “abysmal,” a report we released today found credible the claims of three faculty members that their criticism of administrative decisions led to actions against them. Two of the faculty members, both tenured, were suddenly fired in their twelfth year of service. The third was not reappointed after her fifth year on the tenure track, ostensibly for financial reasons.

An AAUP investigative committee found that administrators had violated the academic due process rights of all three faculty members. The committee also noted that “fear and demoralization” are widespread among the faculty at the university.

Read the full report here.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Call for Applications: 4th Business and Human Rights Young Researchers Summit

We are happy to announce the 4th Business and Human Rights Young Researchers Summit in collaboration with University of St. Gallen's Institute for Business Ethics and NYU's Center for Business and Human Rights. The Summit will take place on April 11-12, 2019. Application deadline is November 1st, 2018. May we kindly ask you to forward the call for abstracts (see attachment or scroll down) to your PhD students and post-doc researchers and distribute widely among other interested researchers. For further information visit:

Details Follow.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Twenty-Second Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities

We are pleased to announce that the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities will be held at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada on March 22-23, 2019. The event is co-sponsored by The Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Information regarding the pre-conference Graduate Student Workshop will follow shortly.

More information follows:

Saturday, September 8, 2018

German Law Journal: Call for Special Issue Proposals

I am happy to pass along this call for special issue proposals form the German Law Journal.  For those interested in a wide readership, the call ought to be quite tempting.

Information follows or may be accessed HERE.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Call for Papers: 4th National People of Color Scholarship Conference--"People of Color and the Future of Democracy"; American University 21-24 March 2019

I am happy to pass along information and a call for papers for the 4th People of Color Scholarship Conference.  It will be held at American University, Washington College of Law 21-24 March 2019. The Conference theme, People of Color and the Future of Democracy,  is intentionally broad and relates to critical conversations such as: the role of lawyers and law professors; intersectionality, inclusion, and action; and whether and how to reframe and reclaim particular narratives.

The Call for Papers Follows.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From the American Association of University Professors: Report of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 2017–18

The American Association of University Professors has just released its 2018 Bulletin.  Its website explained that "This year's Bulletin features an academic freedom and tenure investigative report, revised Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, reports on the assault on science and campus-free-speech legislation, and annual reports and other business documents. 

Most interesting was the Report of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 2017–18,  which follows below.  The Report was particularly interesting for the way in which the Committee continues to wrestle with the efforts to boycott the State of Israel (and deal with Israeli state retaliation) as well as discussion of the release of the Report: National Security, the Assault on Science, and Academic Freedom. This is particularly interesting for the development of an American academic set of principles dealing with foreign exchanges and espionage, as well as the difficulties of engaging with the political effects of academic work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Assessment and Learning Outcomes Comes to Law Schools: Some Recent Scholarship

(Pix Nebamun viewing his geese and cattle; British Museum, 2018)

We live in a word of accountability, whose laws are implemented not through the coercive police power of the state but rather by the constant and repetitive process of assessment. That assessment, in turn, constitutes a data driven self reflexive system that both monitors and imposes orthodoxy through the choices made with respect to those data and that analytics on which judgment is rendered and consequences felt.

Faculty have assumed an interesting place within these cultures of monitoring and data driven assessment. In one respect the metrics used for assessment have consequences for their own evaluation; simultaneously, these metrics are at the center of emerging cultures of the assessment of faculty handiwork--the effect of their interactions with students. What could be more neutral than data driven analytics--especially ones whose parameters are chosen by those on whom they are imposed.  Assuming, of course, that there is real choice. And that, increasingly, may not be the case as regulators--whether public or private, increasingly use their authority to constrain and manage choices that can be made respecting the scope of assessment, its objectives and the objects of its analytics. that changes not merely the focus of the assessment-accountability exercise, the its purpose as well.
Whatever one thinks of these new approaches to accountability of the role of faculty to disseminate of knowledge to students; it has produced at least one benefit--the expansion of knowledge production to include assessment itself. This is especially the case in the context of legal education. The Winter 2018 issue of the Journal of Legal Education (JLE) takes an in-depth look at the revised ABA standards on assessment and learning outcomes. Links to the articles follow. Each is worth considering carefully.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thoughts on Mass Tenure Revocation at Vermont Law School in the Shadow of the Market and Beyond Shared Governance

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2016)

The decision by the Vermont Law School to terminate the tenured positions of more than half of its faculty (precise numbers rumored but unavailable as of the date of this posting) and then to rehire some as contract faculty at presumably lower cost (to the Vermont Law School anyway) has been circulating for a number of days now.
Fourteen out of 19 members of the Vermont Law School faculty lost tenure on July 1 as part of a restructuring effort at the South Royalton institution. . . . Professors said they were informed of the decision to revoke tenure in a private meeting with McHenry and Academic Dean Sean Nolan. Faculty members were told they could choose to continue teaching another year under a new contract or they could opt for six month contracts with varying teaching requirements and salaries, or they could leave. Tenured faculty were required to sign a non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement, prohibiting them from speaking to anyone except their spouses. The agreement prohibited faculty from making derogatory remarks about Vermont Law School and its administration. (Katy Savage, "Vermont Law School revokes tenure for 75 percent of faculty," VTDigger 15 July 2018)
The reactions are what might be expected, though surprisingly muted (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, and here). In the end, after the hand wringing and acrimony, the substance of this action will likely remain undisturbed. "If the reports are accurate, Vermont has essentially acted as if tenure does not exist. This could potentially raise questions about whether Vermont is in compliance with ABA standard 405, but it is unclear how assertive the ABA or site visit teams will be in enforcing those standards." (How secure is tenure? (Michael Simkovic)).

For this post I offer some brief thoughts on what is likely to be a very useful and evolving addition to the toolkit of administrators as they continue the hard task of commodifying and capitalizing education within what is still nostalgically referenced as "the university." The focus is not on the lawyering of protection for those faculty with respect to whom tenure has been made a mockery, though one clothed in the delightfully unctuous ululations of administrator speak. Rather the reflections here focus on the ways in which these actions evidence more generally a perhaps significant changes of power relations within an institution in which the notions of traditional shared governance has withered away.  The character of that withering away is itself of interest, as the successful de-professionalization of the faculty has opened the way for their replacement in governance by an emerging corps of professional administrators only some of whom are drawn from their ranks who (ironically) remain protected by tenure. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Call for Papers: European Society of International Law; The 2019 ESIL Research Forum

The 2019 ESIL Research Forum will be held at the Institute for International Law and European Law, Göttingen, on 4 -5 April 2019.  In addition, all ESIL Interest Groups will be invited to arrange events the day before the Forum, on 3 April.

The Research Forum addresses the topic: “The International Rule of Law and Domestic Dimensions: Synergies and Challenges”.
The contemporary international legal order contains a number of elements which might be seen as representing an ‘international rule of law’. For decades, the constant progress of the international rule of law has been taken for granted, supported by an apparently mutual reinforcement between the rule of law at the domestic and international levels. However, the recent backlash against international law, as well as current domestic developments, put the rule of law to the test at both levels. It prompts us to revisit and perhaps reconsider the concept and its relevance.
The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2018.
The Call for Papers follows. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

CIPDH-UNESCO: segunda edición de su Curso Internacional sobre Derechos Humanos (CIPDH-UNESCO 2nd Annual Course in the Promotion of Human Rights)

El Centro Internacional para la Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPDH-UNESCO) presenta la segunda edición de su Curso Internacional sobre Derechos Humanos. El tema central de este año será “Investigación en derechos humanos. Verificación de hechos, documentación y monitoreo”. Tendrá lugar en el Observatorio Villa Ocampo de la UNESCO, provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina, entre el 29 de octubre y el 2 de noviembre. [The International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CIPDH-UNESCO) presents the second edition of its International Course on Human Rights. The central theme of this year will be "Human Rights Research. Verification of facts, documentation and monitoring ". It will take place at the Villa Ocampo Observatory of UNESCO, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, between October 29 and November 2.]
Más información [More Information]; Bases y condiciones [Conditions];
 Formulario de inscripción [Application].

Más información y enlaces a los formularios de solicitud siguen a continuación/More information and links to the application forms follow below is provided below in English and Spanish.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Call for Papers 2019 Global Corporate Governance Colloquium (GCGC) Center for Financial Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt 7 - 8 June 2019

Deadline: 14 September 2018

The Global Corporate Governance Colloquia (GCGC) is an initiative that brings together the best research in law, economics and finance relating to corporate governance at a yearly conference held at 12 leading universities in the Americas, Asia and Europe. The 12 hosting institutions are: Columbia University, Goethe University Frankfurt, Harvard University, London Business School, National University of Singapore, Peking University, Seoul National University, Stanford University, Swedish House of Finance, University of Oxford, University of Tokyo and Yale University.
More information follows.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31: Brief Thoughts and AAUP Statement

In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), the United States Supreme Court extended the right to a union shop to public service employees. They reasoned effectively that public employees ought not to be denied a right accorded to private sector employees. Certain elements of the political sector have been quite cross ever since. On June 27, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 (see the court's opinion).

One can view the issue in at least two broad ways; the choice of which to privilege depending in part on one's politics, and political agendas.  In one perspective, the case reduces itself to the protection of formal political rights among individuals, and extends that protection to the context of economic relations between labor and capital and among labor collectives and dissenting individuals. In another perspective, the case reduces itself to the reduction of the collective power of labor (compared certainly to the power of collectivity in capital) within firms, and shifts the distribution of economic power within labor and between labor and capital in the operation of firms. That distribution of power, especially in the context of shifts of power allocation between aggregations of capital and aggregations of labor have long marked this Republic. "Indeed, under common law, “collective bargaining was unlawful,” Teamsters v. Terry, 494 U. S. 558, 565–566 (1990)" Janus, n. 7 majority opinion)). 

Of course, the mediation of both views would have been important.  But this saga might better be understood in legal cultural terms as a generation old act of revenge by one reconstituted side of the American economic-cultural-political spectrum against another.  It was a long road from Abood to Janus. And it was a war littered with interest, advantage, and intransigence on all sides. But this is politics ("Today, the Court succeeds in its 6-year campaign to reverse Abood." Janus, Kagan, dissenting) p. 2). That is is an excellent marker of the benefits and challenges of judicial politics well into an age in which the U.S. has adjusted itself to the reconstitution of the judiciary as perhaps its most political branch, remains to be seen. For lawyers, beyond the constitutional points, the discussion of stare decisis would be worth some thought. These are the rules that sometimes liberalize or constrain the political opportunities offered through litigation, even they they might, in the process, undermine (or transform) the once conventional judicial character of the institution (assuming that was itself never a myth, though if so a useful one for national stability).

Indeed, in line with the great political cases, well funded by national (and increasingly international) actors using the courts as a more efficient medium for political reconstitution (as opposed to the cumbersome and expensive legislature, the complex bureaucracy, or the executive branch that is usually too disorganized to be effective consistently), this case can be understood as another in a long line of instances in which powerful actors focus their competition in the courts. In this case, unremarkably, Janus was represented in court by the Illinois Policy Institute’s litigation partner, the Liberty Justice Center, as well as the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The decision has significant effects, though their character and direction remains to be seen, for the university. This might be interesting, for example, with respect to application to publicly assisted universities. And the fight over the rights of labor and capital to aggregatinbg power remains an unfinished story.

This post includes the statement of the AAUP  

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Premio Anual “Construir Igualdad" Bases 2018/ Annual CIPDH Award for Inclusive Local Public Policies Conditions 2018

Con el objetivo de fortalecer aspectos considerados claves para la construcción de sociedades más democráticas, el CIPDH ha instituido el premio CONSTRUIR IGUALDAD, orientado a distinguir políticas públicas locales de Latinoamérica y el Caribe que se destaquen o se hayan destacado  en materia de inclusión y  no discriminación. [With the objective of strengthening key aspects for the construction of more democratic societies, the CIPDH has instituted the BUILD EQUALITY award, aimed at highlighting local public policies in Latin America and the Caribbean that stand out or have stood out in terms of inclusion and non-discrimination.] (Premio Construir Igualdad ).
El Centro Internacional para la Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPDH) es el primer Centro de Categoría II de UNESCO en el mundo dedicado a la promoción de los derechos humanos. Establecido en la República Argentina en 2009, funciona como entidad descentralizada en el ámbito del Poder Ejecutivo de la Nación. En pertinencia con su misión basada en los principios de igualdad y no discriminación desde una perspectiva de equidad de género, diversidad e interculturalidad, toma la iniciativa de reconocer políticas públicas de igualdad y no discriminación en la región de América Latina y el Caribe (LAC), a través de la institución del Premio Construir Igualdad. (Premio Anual CIPDH a Políticas Públicas Locales Inclusivas; BASES 2018)

The International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CIPDH in its Spanish acronym) is the first Category II Center of UNESCO in the world dedicated to the promotion of human rights. It was established in the Argentine Republic in 2009 and it works as a decentralized body within the Executive Branch of this country. Pursuant to its mission, which is based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination from a gender equality, diversity and interculturality perspective, it gives recognition to public policies of equality and non- discrimination in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region through the creation of the Construir Igualdad (Building Equality) Award. Annual CIPDH Award for Inclusive Local Public Policies CONDITIONS - 2018)
Las postulaciones se recibirán desde el 13 abril hasta el 15 de julio de 2018 a través de nuestra página web: construirigualdad.  Para mayor información consultar bases aquí, o comunicarse al correo electrónico: 
Applications may be submitted from 13 April until 15 July 2018 through the dedicated web page: construirigualdad.  For more information please consult here: bases aquí, or otherwise email queries at: 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Scandal, Culture Change, and Discipline at USC: The Emerging Roles of Bureaucracies, Faculty, and Litigation in Institutional Risk-Compliance Regimes

Universities, like other large institutions, have been plagued by scandal related to sexual misconduct.  Among the latest institutions facing significant disruption on the basis of an alleged wrongful failure of administrators to prevent or remedy (through for example appropriate working systems of monitoring and mitigation) such sexual misconduct  is the University of Southern California.  USC is now in the midst of the consequences of "a growing scandal over abuse of students by a campus gynecologist, George Tyndall, and other incidents in which the university is perceived to have failed to act on misconduct by powerful officials." (Scott Jaschik, USC President Will Step Down, Inside Higher Education 29 May 2018). 

This post considers the way that such scandals have now acquired their own patterns of response.  It suggests the way that for large institutions, mere reliance on institutional reporting and monitoring systems, even those combined with robust complaint avenues, are rarely sufficient to produce a robust and effective response (See,On the Management of Scandal in the Modern University; Some Lessons and Insights for Times of Crisis; for earlier reflections in other institutions see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here).  Accountability might be far more effective with a strong and well developed system of both internal and external stakeholder action, one that makes it more difficult for senior administrators to seek shelter within their self reflexive managerial cocoons.  For internal action, the protections of tenure academic freedom are essential. For external sanctions, a robust social media and news establishment is essential for communicating complaints to the larger markets in which the university operates and on which it is dependent (made up of alumni, donors, regulators and students). 

The Language of Bureaucracy: Rostam J. Neuwirth, "Law in the Time of Oxymora A Synaesthesia of Language, Logic and Law"

I am happy to pass along news of the publication of Rostam J. Neuwirth, Law in the Time of Oxymora: A Synaesthesia of Language, Logic and Law (Routledge 2018). A rich work, it addresses the fundamental challenges to legal reasoning and legal logic and also open a broad debate on the consequences that these linguistic changes are likely to trigger. The relation of the project of reasoning to the transformation of the meaning and structures of communication within enterprises, and especially universities, may be quite useful. 

This from the publication materials (the abstract follows).
In the time of “alternative facts”, “Yanny and Laurel” or other oxymoronic phenomena, the “law and society” debate faces a plethora of serious challenges that are often framed in individual “law and … pairs”, like those of “law and technology”, “law and language” or “law and the senses” to mention but three. However, such dichotomous thinking underlying law at large is increasingly facing pressure from so-called “essentially oxymoronic concepts” and may no longer be able to deal with the pace of change and complexity in the real world.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Prissy University and Academic Naughty Words--The AAUP Files an Amicus Brief in Buchanan v. Alexander NO. 3:16 - CV - 41 (5th Cir. on appeal)

“I got fired for what they called ‘sexual harassment,’” Buchanan said of her 2015 termination, but there were no allegations she “harassed” anyone, sexually or otherwise. Rather, LSU took action because of some of the language Buchanan used in course instruction with her adult students. “Everything that they accused me of had to do with things that I had said as part of my teaching methods,” said Buchanan, noting that no student ever accused her of sexually harassing them. Rather, her approach was designed to enable new teachers cope with teaching in the real world, and doing so at some times involved the use of harsh language.  (Alex Morey, "Teresa Buchanan Uncensored: How an Innovative Educator Created Top Teachers and Got Fired for It, Fire," Jan. 22, 2016 )
The modern university has tended to become a safe space--but not in the way that term is commonly understood.  The safety of the university space is ensured through emerging programs of compliance driven in turn by the socialization of a riskless environment.  And cultures of risk negating behaviors include not merely forbidding hiking clubs to hike (here) or researchers to explore (here) but it seems it now also includes constraining teaching and teaching innovation through the broadened use of social control mechanisms, including, in most interesting ways, the otherwise important and necessary  regulatory architecture for the suppression of sex harassment on campus.   Increasingly, this policing of risk, in the form of compliance, has begun to affect the shape and scope of tenure and academic freedom (here). 

It is at the intersection of these trends that one finds Teresa Buchanan, a faculty member at LSU who was terminated after the university determined that her teaching methods constituted harassment ("LSU said in a statement released Thursday through spokesman Ernie Ballard that the university is confident the action it took against Buchanan was appropriate. “We take our responsibility to protect students from abusive behavior very seriously, and we will vigorously defend our students’ rights to a harassment-free educational environment,” the statement added." here). And yet it was those very methods that appeared to have made her teaching a success judged by the standards of the university. An interesting conundrum appears as a consequence, one situated at the intersection of ancient values and now apparently of zero sum dignity considerations. 
This month [June 2015], Louisiana State University fired—outright fired—a tenured professor of education, Teresa Buchanan, ostensibly for creating a “hostile work environment” via sexual harassment. Her infraction? Allowing profanities to pass from her tenured lips, and unleashing a single ill-advised bon mot about sexual intercourse. . . . For all this, after an 11-hour hearing, a committee of Buchanan’s peers concluded that she be officially censured (which is not the same as “censored,” except in this case it is), and never use “potentially offensive language” in the classroom again. But the LSU administration found that already-Draconian punishment insufficient. Buchanan actually got fired. (Rebecca Shuman, "Academia’s P.C. Brigade Has Started Policing the F-Word. That’s Taking It Too Effing Far," Slate June 2015)
The LSU Faculty Senate condemned the action (here for the resolution of the LSU Senate seeking the censure of senior administrators and the reversal of the decision). The AAUP censured LSU (here). Buchanan sued (complaint here) and lost in the lower courts (see here). To the delight of the LSU Administration the case was dismissed in January 2018 (report here). The case is currently on appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This post includes links to the brief filed by AAUP in support of Professor Buchanan's appeal. The issues touch on a core area of transformation of the university and its relationship both to the production of knowledge and toward its producers within a regulatory and institutional environment that tends to prefer performance to the average and a homogenized product that can be sold without substantial risk or pain.  One can't blame the university--they believe they are in the business of producing individuals qualified for insertion into wage labor markets. Yet, the university might still be condemned for the choices that led them to those beliefs and practices.  Teaching professionals also believe they are engaged in producing individuals better suited to live lives that maximize their value to society and to the student. To that end a bit of experimentation and risk taking may be necessary.  Where one draws the lines is now one of the more important issue framing the way in whcih one understands tenure and academic freedom in the contemporary university.

Friday, May 4, 2018

In the Spirit of Folly --A Primer for University Faculty Assessment

Academic faculty review-assessment season is once again upon us. This is the time of year when all of the pious recitations about shared governance and the like are bent to the economic (and sometimes strategic) agendas of the university and the unit head. It is a reminder that while governance is shared, power is not. And, of course, where substantial subjective administrative discretion is veiled within what appears to be standards and guidelines, academic reviews serve as a great point in the annual cycle to discipline threats, control conformity, and signal the outer bounds of acceptable behaviors. None of this is new--it is true that pieties around the process have metastasized as the scope of discretion has grown, and that the data driven assessment has made the subjective process appear more "neutral" by shifting the locus of discretion from data to the parameters around which data is gathered and assessed--but the hunger for strengthening the cloak of respectability does appear to have intensified over the last decade.

Academic review now suggests the spirit of folly in its architectural sense: "a building constructed primarily for decoration, but suggesting through its appearance some other purpose, or of such extravagant appearance that it transcends the range of garden ornaments usually associated with the class of buildings to which it belongs." (HERE).  And indeed, the architecture and rituals of review nicely evidence the folly of institutional architecture as it has been emerging recently.  It is in that spirit of folly, then, that I offer a manual for folly in academic review gathered over the years from a wide variety of sources and representing variations of folly from around the world.  These are drawn entirely from stories heard over the years and are fictional in character--any similarities to actual persons and events are wholly unintentional.

Here, then, In Praise of Folly ("An oration, of feigned matter, spoken by Folly in her own person. . . . Prepare therefore to be entertained with a panegyrick, yet not upon Hercules, Solon, or any other grandee, but on myself, that is, upon Folly."). Let the spirit of folly reign!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Call for Papers: Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy 28th Annual Meeting July 26 – 28, 2018

I pass along a call for papers for the upcoming annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy to take place in Miami, Florida, 26-28 July 2018. There are three ways to submit a paper: (1) professional session; (2) student competition; and (3) student virtual sessions. Professional Sessions details here;  student competition details here; Student Virtual Session details here

ASCE XXVII Conferencia Anual
26 de Julio – 28 de Julio de 2018

Sumarios, ensayos y/o propuestas de paneles deben describir trabajos originales relacionados con la economía de Cuba en un sentido amplio, incluyendo aspectos legales, sectoriales y sociales del desarrollo económico.

Los sumarios no deben exceder 250 palabras. Por favor, con el sumario, incluye una biografia de 150 palabras. Los sumarios y biografias se deben enviarse a través de correo electrónico a antes del 22 de mayo de 2017. Incluya la frase “CONFERENCIA ASCE SUMARIO” en el asunto del mensaje electrónico.

Se requerirá que los autores de los trabajos aceptados se inscriban en la conferencia.
Fechas Límites
Envío de sumarios: 22 de mayo 2018
Notificación de aceptación: 7 de junio 2018
ASCE XXVIII Conferencia Anual: 26 julio a 28 de julio de 2018
Borradores de los ensayos: 15 de julio de 2018
Los ensayos finales deberán presentarse para publicación: 15 de septiembre de 2018. Guia para las publiciones. Instrucciones adicionales en inglés (próximamente).

The call for papers with links may be accessed here (Castellano/English).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Call for Papers Announcement: The Transnationalization of Anti-Corruption Law

(Pix ©Larry Catá Backer 2018)

The ASIL Anti-Corruption Law Interest Group, Sciences Po Law School, and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania are organizing an international symposium on the "Transnationalization of Anti-Corruption Law."

The conference will take place at Sciences Po Law School in Paris, France, on Thursday and Friday, December 6-7. Proposals are being accepted  until July 23.

The call for papers and contact details are available here and below

Friday, April 20, 2018

Are Risk Algorithms the New Leaders of the 21st Century American University?: The Riskless University and the Veiling of Discretion

Mockery is the sincerest form of criticism. And there was mockery aplenty directed toward the leaders of Penn State University.  And that leadership now appears to have moved from the office of its titular administrative heads to another place, that is from the individuals designated as the lead officers of the university to the risk and compliance algorithms of the university (and the individuals who tend them), which now appear to have assume the highest authority at the university. That, at least, is what we appear to be told in the way in which some decisions are now made at American universities.  

This should come as no surprise; nor is the issue unique to any particular university.  As universities shift to a corporate model, and as the authority over education and student programs shifts from faculties and departments to central administration and non-teaching administrators, it should come as no surprise that cultures of risk aversion in internal governance should move to the center of the educational mission of the university. What is more interesting, though is that this shift is not merely about moving from one set of individuals to another set--distinguished by experience and their relationship to the actual work of education (rather than in the management of human resources in institutional settings).  Rather it is about the shift in governance from people driven cultures of administration to data driven cultures in which administrative discretion is not exercised (and abused) by individuals, but rather built into the algorithms that now serve to mask the exercise of discretion within the more neutral sounding relationships of data organized into relational.  

The recent decisions by the leadership algorithms of Penn State (not of course by those administrators who serve those decision makers) to disband three ancient student clubs because their activities were too dangerous  provide a nice but generalized example of the trend that affects all universities. In the process, the necessity and character of shared governance, of consultation, and of the role of human beings in the administration of the university  has changed substantially as well. This ought to be a matter of general concern to those who think about the trajectories of university (and more generally of institutional governance).

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Convocatoria Estudiantil Jorge Pérez-López 2018/2018 Graduate and Undergraduate Student Award Competition; Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy/La Asociación para el Estudio de la Economía Cubana

I am delighted to pass along informaiton about a student writing competition which has for some years formed an important part of the annual conference of the Associaiton for the Study of the Cuban Economy at its meeting in Miami, Florida at the end of July.

Please pass this along to your networks as appropriate. Informaiton in English or Español.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hollowing Out Governance--Thoughts on the Emerging Structures of Governance at the Unit Level: Bureaucratization, Information Asymmetries and Control

(Px © Larry Catá Backer 2018)

One of the most interesting trends of the last decade or so has been the way in which the edifice of robust shared governance has been carved out.  What was once a structure vibrant with engagement (although always to some extent asymmetrical) now appears as magnificent as before, though hollowed out of any real content. 

One gets  areal sense of this not at the university level--where the grand strategies of bureaucratization have already become a normal element of operation, whose premises appear unremarkable even to those most deeply and adversely affected by them.  Rather it appears in its most acute forms in the operation of sub-units of the university--colleges and large departments--whose governance structures remain outwardly a shining beacon of shared effort, but which have effectively been hollowed out. 

This post includes some thoughts on the nature of that process of hollowing out and its consequences.  A future post considers the effects. The view is pessimistic; it is not clear that the antique model on which these structures once operated well can be saved except as echoes of themselves now most useful as a veil behind which real power is exercised through increasingly bureaucratized administrative apparatus with no real connection to faculty other than to understand them as factors in the production data useful to the assessment machinery of the university as a whole.  Yet what emerges as well is the certain knowledge that faculties will adjust to changing conditions, at least in order to survive.  And they will thrive, if only by changing the meaning and methods of that term. Still, it is worth chronically the transformation of a governance order that once was fully embraced by a dynamic culture and that now is quickly losing even status as a memory. Still, there may be something distasteful in using antique terms, rich in history and practice, to describe the new realities to which they have little functional connection.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Event Announcement: Os desafios da democracia e dos direitos socias no século XXI ("The challenges of democracy and social rights in the 21st century")

Happy to pass along word of what will be an exciting and quite important program: Os desafios da democracia e dos direitos socias no século XXI ("The challenges of democracy and social rights in the 21st century").
The main objective of the Seminar is to disseminate and debate the theoretical and practical production on Human Rights, Society and State in the Brazilian and Latin American context. In addition to bringing together national and foreign researchers, who are concerned with the issue of democracy and social rights, providing channels for dialogue and promoting the dissemination of scientific works.
The event is organized by the Post-Graduate Program in Law - MSc, from the University of Extremadura, Southern Brazil - UNESC, with the support of the UNESC Law Course. My thanks to
Prof. Dr. Yduan de Oliveira May Direito | PPGD | UNESC for organizing this important event.

More information follows in the original Portugese and English translation. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

New From the Journal of Legal Education--Links to Emerging Orthodoxies From the Legal Academic Sector in the U.S.

I am happy to pass along links to the latest issue of the American Journal of Legal Education.  It represents the thinking of the American legal academic elite and thus is a useful gauge of the evolving orthodoxies  (and emerging thinking) among that group.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Recommended Reading: Marco Ferretti, Salvatore Ferretti, Raffaele Fiorentino, Adele Parmentola, and Alessandro Sapio, "What drives the growth of academic spin-offs? Matching academics, universities, and non-research organizations," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal (March 2018)

Universities (whatever the incarnation of that abstraction means) sometimes believe that they serve as a positive force in bringing the knowledge produced by their faculty to market, and thus contributing (again it is hard to understand how a collection of administrative officials can be credited here except for doing the job for which they receive lavish (market based of course) compensation) to social progress.  And indeed, the practice and fostering of university spin offs has been all the rage recently (here, here, here, here, and here). 
 Public officials in universities and ministries throughout the industrial countries are currently extremely interested in fostering the creation of spin-offs from the public research base. The reason is simple. Research-based spin-offs are generally understood to be small, new technology-based firms whose intellectual capital originated in universities or other public research organisations. These firms are thought to contribute to innovation, growth, employment and revenues. They are perceived to be flexible and dynamic, giving rise to novel fields and markets, and playing a critical role in the development of high-technology clusters. However, despite the promise of new-firm generation from cutting-edge research, a recent survey carried out by the OECD shows that in most countries, spin-offs remain rare and their economic impact is poorly documented. (here; and see also here).
But where might credit be better due?

To consider that question, those interested might want to have a look at an intriguing artocle just published:    Marco Ferretti, Salvatore Ferri, Raffaele Fiorentino, Adele Parmentola, and Alessandro Sapio, "What drives the growth of academic spin-offs? Matching academics, universities, and non-research organizations," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal 14:1-27 (electronic publication 6 March 2018), which considers whether the combination of academic and non-academic individuals and organizations on the board and in the shareholder base can foster academic spin offs' (ASOs') early growth performance. They find that "academic individuals’ ownership shares do not exercise any significant impact on sales growth, and the effect of the parent university is negative, whereas non-academic organizations foster ASO sales growth in an inverse U-shaped fashion." (Ferretti, M., Ferri, S., Fiorentino, R. et al. Int Entrep Manag J (2018). 

The abstract follows.