Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chapter 4 (Law Articulated by the Courts--Equity): From "Elements of Law" to "Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States"--Building an Introductory Course to the Legal Curriculum for the 21st Century

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

Since 2010, I have been posting on the development of a new course I have been developing for our first year law school students, "Elements of Law." The course originally had a quite modest objective--to introduce law students to legal research and reasoning through case law, statutory interpretation, and legal history, processes, and institutions. I chose to broaden its objectives within these specific parameters and development a framing and concepts course that would provide a deep foundation to law students on the legal system they were undertaking to study.
Grounded in the principles of the sociology of law, the course has morphed into an effort to introduce students to law as a self-referencing system with its own particular structures, premises, constraints and language, with its own logic and taboos and its own means of understanding the world. That systemicity (cf. Peter Checkland, Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 1999) is then a critical element in the way in which the legal system (in this case of the United States) interacts with the world, both as a legal and as a socio-economic-political actor. The course has also expanded from its original narrow and technical focus, to a broader focus on principles and the use of language and logic to build and operate a system of law. That broadening has made it possible to offer the course not just to first year law students, but also to graduate students in the social sciences and in international affairs, as a grounding in the legal systems that are important in their respective fields.

This post produces some of the materials I will be presenting to the class. I offer these materials in hopes that they may prove of use and that you might share comments, perspectives and suggestions as I develop those materials on this site. Thanks.

This post includes a draft of Chapter 4 (Law Articulated by the Courts--Equity).

Friday, August 29, 2014

Corporate Transparency--A Report of the View of Sustainability Experts


(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

GlobeScan/SustainAbility publishes about five reports a year that analyze expert perspectives on a range of business and sustainability topics. On 25 August 2014 GlobalScan/SustainAbility released its  - Findings from a new GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey of industry experts on corporate transparency and specifically on how transparency drives performance. Their press release notes
Sustainability experts often point to stakeholder engagement and enhanced reputation as some of the benefits of corporate transparency. This survey reveals that corporate transparency brings even more value to companies. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents indicated that corporate transparency positively impacts a company’s sustainability performance. While there are barriers to transparency driving change within companies, there are a number of transparency practices that can help better guide decision making and work towards sustainable change.
SustainAbility was  founded in 1987.  They describe themselves as evolving "alongside the broader sustainability agenda and helped to define and shape the unique role of business within it.  On issues from consumption, transparency, stakeholder engagement and strategy to innovation and transformation, we've helped hundreds of clients and partners better understand and create business and societal value in response to global challenges." 

Globalscan describes itself thus: "for twenty-five years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure, understand and build valuable relationships with their stakeholders, and to work collaboratively in delivering a sustainable and equitable future. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, GlobeScan partners with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around and beyond their organizations."

This post includes some of the findings from the report.  They are interesting and their consequences are worth thinking about.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chapter 3 (Law Articulated by the Courts--Common Law): From "Elements of Law" to "Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States"--Building an Introductory Course to the Legal Curriculum for the 21st Century


(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

Since 2010, I have been posting on the development of a new course I have been developing for our first year law school students, "Elements of Law." The course originally had a quite modest objective--to introduce law students to legal research and reasoning through case law, statutory interpretation, and legal history, processes, and institutions. I chose to broaden its objectives within these specific parameters and development a framing and concepts course that would provide a deep foundation to law students on the legal system they were undertaking to study.
Grounded in the principles of the sociology of law, the course has morphed into an effort to introduce students to law as a self-referencing system with its own particular structures, premises, constraints and language, with its own logic and taboos and its own means of understanding the world. That systemicity (cf. Peter Checkland, Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 1999) is then a critical element in the way in which the legal system (in this case of the United States) interacts with the world, both as a legal and as a socio-economic-political actor. The course has also expanded from its original narrow and technical focus, to a broader focus on principles and the use of language and logic to build and operate a system of law. That broadening has made it possible to offer the course not just to first year law students, but also to graduate students in the social sciences and in international affairs, as a grounding in the legal systems that are important in their respective fields.

This post produces some of the materials I will be presenting to the class. I offer these materials in hopes that they may prove of use and that you might share comments, perspectives and suggestions as I develop those materials on this site. Thanks.

This post includes a draft of Chapter 3 (Law Articulated by the Courts--Common Law).


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Trouble with the Institutions of International Human Rights--Dissonance and Incoherence Between States and the International Organizations that Serve Them



One of the most interesting elements of the elaboration of an international legal architecture for the management of relations among states and for the constraints on the conduct of states within their own borders has been the dissonance between what a number of states believe they are creating and what the inhabitants of the international organizations created believe. Some states believe that they have created an instrument in international organizations that may be used in the course of inter governmental relations unconstrained by the legalisms that affect a state's behavior within their borders. Others believe that they have created a system of governance (some might call it law--and it may be so when such states have the power to force these rules on other states). Most interesting perhaps is the view from within the international bodies themselves.




(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)


A recent speech given by Navi Pillay, the outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights nicely frames the contradictions and constrains of the architecture for international peace and security that is the product of the premises of framework for organizing the community of states from a global community just emerging from the last global war in 1945, a community that has for all practical purposes now passed onto history. As described in the press release announcing the speech (which is quite short as far as these things go) it was noted that
Briefing a Security Council open debate on international peace and security, the High Commissioner listed examples where OHCHR's work has helped prevent, de-escalate and resolve crises. She noted that the scrutiny of Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies contributes to early warning of the human rights grievances that are the underlying causes of conflict. And yet, she said, despite increasing interest by the Security Council in human rights over the course of her tenure, "There has not always been a firm and principled decision by Members to put an end to crises. Short-term geopolitical considerations and national interest, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over intolerable human suffering and grave breaches of - and long-term threats to - international peace and security. I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this Council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives."
Full text of the speech HERE.  The speech is particularly useful for illustrating the quite specific self conception of the role of international organizations and the frustration that results when these self conceptions bump up against the realities of the more traditional and conventional thinking of its stakeholders.

My object in this post to to provide a gloss on that speech.  Both the text of the speech and my gloss [in brackets] follow:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chapter 2 (Law and Justice: The cast of characters, institutions and Forms): From "Elements of Law" to "Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States"--Building an Introductory Course to the Legal Curriculum for the 21st Century

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

Since 2010, I have been posting on the development  of a new course I have been developing for our first year law school students, "Elements of Law."  The course originally had a quite modest objective--to introduce law students to legal research and reasoning through case law, statutory interpretation, and legal history, processes, and institutions.  I chose to broaden its objectives within these specific parameters and development a framing and concepts course that would provide a deep foundation to law students on the legal system they were undertaking to study. 
--Elements of Law 3.0: On the Relevance of a First Year Law Course Designed to Frame the Law School Curriculum).
--Developing a New Course--"Elements of Law"
--"Elements of Law" Course 2.0: A Framework Course for the U.S. Law Curriculum,
Grounded in the principles of the sociology of law, the course has morphed into an effort to introduce students to law as a self-referencing system with its own particular structures, premises, constraints and language, with its own logic and taboos and its own means of understanding the world.  That systemicity (cf. Peter Checkland, Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 1999) is then a critical element in the way in which the legal system (in this case of the United States) interacts with the world, both as a legal and as a socio-economic-political actor.  The course has also expanded from its original narrow and technical focus, to a broader focus on principles and the use of language and logic to build and operate a system of law. That broadening has made it possible to offer the course not just to first year law students, but also to graduate students in the social sciences and in international affairs, as a grounding in the legal systems that are important in their respective fields.

This post produces some of the materials I will be presenting to the class.  I offer these materials in hopes that they may prove of use and that you might share comments, perspectives and suggestions as I develop those materials on this site. Thanks.

This post includes a draft of Chapter 2.
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Advancing the Rule of Law With Chinese Characteristics: A Conversation About Constitutionalism, Shangfang, and the Ideological Work of the Chinese Communist Party

-->

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

 The Chinese Communist Party has recently accelerated its political work--moving deliberately to develop its operating theory to enhance its role as a vanguard party in China. 
 The Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold the fourth plenary session of the 18th central committee in October, to discuss key issues concerning the rule of law, it was announced on Tuesday.

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee will discuss "governing the country according to law" on every front, it was announced after the Tuesday meeting, presided over by the CPC Central Committee's general secretary, Xi Jinping.

It was agreed that the rule of law is a must if the country will attain economic growth, clean government, culture prosperity, social justice and sound environment, and realize the strategic objective of peaceful development.

A statement after the meeting said that the rule of law is an intrinsic requirement of socialism with Chinese characteristics and crucial to modern governance. Governing according to law holds the key to the CPC's leadership, the people's well-being, deepening reform and long-term stability. The statement emphasized, that governing according to law has become more significant in the entire agenda of the Party and the nation, due to new circumstances. (Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Camnada, CPC to hold key session on rule of law, July 30, 2014)
This post includes the transcript of a conversation with Keren Wang, a PhD candidate at Penn State (Communication Arts and Sciences, School of Liberal Arts) and my co-author, about the recent strong movement at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party toward the institutionalization of rule of law systems with Chinese characteristics, including the petitioning system or shanfang.  It is meant to provide a more conversational introduction to issues of rule of law, of the institutionalization of the relationship between the people and the administrative organs of state and of the role of a vanguard party.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chapter 1 (The Context and Roadmap for Study): From "Elements of Law" to "Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States"--Building an Introductory Course to the Legal Curriculum for the 21st Century

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

Since 2010, I have been posting on the development  of a new course I have been developing for our first year law school students, "Elements of Law."  The course originally had a quite modest objective--to introduce law students to legal research and reasoning through case law, statutory interpretation, and legal history, processes, and institutions.  I chose to broaden its objectives within these specific parameters and development a framing and concepts course that would provide a deep foundation to law students on the legal system they were undertaking to study. 
--Elements of Law 3.0: On the Relevance of a First Year Law Course Designed to Frame the Law School Curriculum).
--Developing a New Course--"Elements of Law"
--"Elements of Law" Course 2.0: A Framework Course for the U.S. Law Curriculum,
Grounded in the principles of the sociology of law, the course has morphed into an effort to introduce students to law as a self-referencing system with its own particular structures, premises, constraints and language, with its own logic and taboos and its own means of understanding the world.  That systemicity (cf. Peter Checkland, Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 1999) is then a critical element in the way in which the legal system (in this case of the United States) interacts with the world, both as a legal and as a socio-economic-political actor.  The course has also expanded from its original narrow and technical focus, to a broader focus on principles and the use of language and logic to build and operate a system of law. That broadening has made it possible to offer the course not just to first year law students, but also to graduate students in the social sciences and in international affairs, as a grounding in the legal systems that are important in their respective fields.
This post produces some of the materials I will be presenting to the class.  I offer these materials in hopes that they may prove of use and that you might share comments, perspectives and suggestions as I develop those materials on this site. Thanks.

This post includes a draft of Chapter 1.