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Changing campus: An intersection of law, political science and philosophy

Changing campus: An intersection of law, political science and philosophy

A bold new venture from the Queen's Faculty of Law provides a change in graduate education.

[photo fo campus in the fall]

When Queen’s students return to class this September, some will be benefiting from a bold new venture from the Faculty of Law: a cross-disciplinary exercise in graduate education, focusing on the intersection of three areas of study.

“With Professor Jean Thomas, I’ve been developing the new Colloquium in Legal and Political Philosophy,” explains Professor Grégoire Webber, Canada Research Chair in Public Law and Philosophy of Law. “This will be a course open to law students, and political science and philosophy graduate students at Queen’s.”

The structure of the course is a twelve-week cycle of alternating weeks reading an author’s paper and engaging with the paper’s author. A legal or political philosopher will be invited to come speak at Queen’s every other week, in talks that are open to all Queen’s students and faculty. Alternate weeks will feature in-class sessions where students enrolled for the colloquium course review the next week’s guest’s paper with Professors Thomas and Webber.

“This is a unique merged course for Queen’s,” Professor Webber says, “but not unprecedented at other institutions. One of our models is the Colloquium in Legal, Political, and Social Philosophy at NYU, which was founded by Ronald Dworkin and Thomas Nagel in 1987 and has become a model for many colloquia of this sort.”

The benefits for the students, beyond the obvious exposure to a broad range of leading thinkers from around the world, are manifold. “It will facilitate a sense of community amongst students in this program,” Webber says, “providing opportunities for law, political science and philosophy students to collaborate and interact outside of their respective programs as they are exposed to new, cutting-edge research in the field.”

The course, funded by Webber’s Canada Research Chair but with the active participation of the philosophy and political science departments, is capped at 20 participants, with a majority of students from the Faculty of Law and others from the graduate programs of Political Studies and Philosophy.  

Students who are not formally part of the course are invited to attend the speaker presentations. “We hope to see strong representation from Law, Political Studies and Philosophy at these talks,” Webber says. “We have organized a strong slate of speakers for the Colloquium’s inaugural year, and will be promoting these talks on the Faculty of Law website as well as directly to students in all three departments.”

The speakers for the 2015 Colloquium are:

  • Kimberley Brownlee (Warwick)
  • John Gardner (Oxford)
  • Sherry Colb (Cornell)
  • Michael Dorf (Cornell)
  • David Miller (Oxford)
  • John Oberdiek (Rutgers)
  • Thomas Christiano (Arizona)


[cover - Queen's Alumni Review Digital Special Edition Fall 2015]