Nathanson Centre broadens scope beyond crime and corruption

A world-renowned research centre for the study of organized crime and corruption at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School is broadening its focus to include the study of human rights, crime and security in transnational contexts.

Of special concern to the newly named Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security will be the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism. But the centre will also look at transnational issues that are affecting society, law and governance.

The term “transnational” means crossing boundaries. It signals the increasing ways domestic law – especially in relation to crime, security and human rights – is influenced by external forces such as terrorist networks, global pandemics and multinational corporations, says Osgoode Professor Craig Scott, an international law expert who has been appointed director of the renewed Nathanson Centre for a three-year term.

Left: Craig Scott

“We want to be known as a centre that is helping to push our understanding of how the world is changing and how law is responding, or could or should respond, to transnational and sometimes fully global forces,” Scott says.

The centre intends to focus on research that contributes to scholarship, theoretical knowledge and public policy.

Helping stimulate scholarly and policy debates will be York researchers in political science, sociology, criminology, environmental studies and health studies as well as centre associates from universities around the world and non-academic sectors. The Nathanson Centre will also work closely with other York research units such as the York Centre on International and Security Studies.

Nine York graduate students – six in law and three in psychology, sociology and environmental studies – are working as Nathanson Centre Fellows doing research on topics such as terrorism, trans-boundary trade in endangered species, and the security of indigenous peoples. “They have been the lifeblood of much of the ongoing work at the Nathanson Centre under its previous mandate and this will continue to be the case,” Scott says.

The 10-year-old centre used to be called the Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption. The impetus for the change of name and mandate followed consultations with academics, government officials and legal practitioners. The changes were approved this spring by York’s Senate and have the support of benefactor Mark Nathanson as well as the original centre’s director, Osgoode Professor Margaret Beare, who will anchor the transnational-crime pillar of the three themes.

Declares Scott: “We believe that the renewed Nathanson Centre is a major brick in continuing to build Osgoode Hall Law School as a centre for developing transnational legal thinking.”