LAW 973

Designing Real Utopias

Public Interest Law

This seminar imagines the legal realization of radical hope. Contemporary social movements are insisting that another world is possible, and necessary. Complementing urgent efforts to resist or mitigate intense injustice in the present, bold visions for the future are on the table, if not yet around the corner: abolishing police and prisons, universal basic income, a decarbonized economy, open borders, reparations, a jobs guarantee, the decolonization of North America, and more. Rather than centering the critique of existing institutions and the limits or dangers of law, this seminar will embrace the affirmative project of designing the legal frameworks—unfamiliar as they might need to be—that would help instantiate a hopeful future. Due attention will be paid to the serious challenges such transformations would face, but we will treat these as problems to be solved rather than as reasons to accept the status quo.Each student will write a research paper developing a real utopian project (SAW, CRS, and/or EPILP writing credit available). Class sessions will be during J-term, and research papers will be due at the end of the spring semester. The first week of class will focus on readings envisioning “real utopias” and the role of legal institutions in them. The second week of class will be organized around student-led sessions designed in consultation with the professor to advance the student's research project. Students are required to begin developing their research topic and identifying relevant readings in the fall after course registration; paper topics must be approved before the first day of class.

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