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. 
ESIL WEBSITE: http://www.esil-sedi.eu

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.