Law and organising for reform

Judy Harrison, Senior Lecturer, ANU Legal Workshop

Law and Organising for Reform, Justice and Inclusion is the long name (OK, very long) of a new online ANU masters course starting mid-summer 2017.

I can tell you, that the words ‘reform, justice and inclusion’ were a late addition to the name. Actually, a negotiated settlement after it turned out that the proposed name ‘Law and Organising’, apparently had strange effects. During course approval, I received input that people would not know what the course was about and some may think it was about legal practice filing systems!

So, although the words ‘reform’ and ‘justice’, in the final name of the course, are polysemes (or words which have multiple meanings), and ‘inclusion’ sometimes turns out to mean ‘coercion’, it did come down to the least-worst words I could suggest. That is, for the particular context, as far as I could assess it, and given the numbers, at the time, on the day.

Here are three reference points, to help paint the picture of what the course is about. First, in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the animals take over the farm, but the revolution becomes corrupt and things more or less turn full circle. This short book, available free on the web, is excellent summer reading or re-reading for anyone interested in law reform and social justice. It’s also a recommended text for the course.

Second, follow any news story you care about involving people trying to resist oppression or change prevailing attitudes. Look out for how law and lawyers might have contributed to the problems and how both may be relevant to progressive change.

Third, skim through the article, A Critical Reflection on Law and Organizing by Scott Cummins and Ingrid Eagly, written when they were lawyers at community based, non-profit, legal services in LA. This article helps frame the course. So, if you do choose to take the course, which starts on 4 February 2017, you will have identified ways the course will be relevant to your interests in law and organising.

The course is available in most ANU graduate law programs (JD, MLP, LLM, LLM specialisation etc.). See LAWS8324 in Programs and Courses

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  Director, GDLP/Page Contact:  Program Coordinator, GDLP