Leading PhD law students meet at Osgoode

Some of the most promising doctoral law students from around the world are currently meeting at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School for a three-week academy, called an Agora, organized by the Association of Transnational Law Schools (ATLAS), a consortium of seven of the world’s leading law schools.

A total of 30 doctoral students from the London School of Economics & Political Science, New York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Cape Town, Universidad de Deusto (Bilbao), the University of Melbourne and Université de Montréal are here until July 25 networking and taking part in discussions, seminars and lectures on this year’s Agora theme – "Law, Change and Regulatory Challenges in the Contemporary World".

Osgoode Professor Craig Scott (left), academic director of the 2008 ATLAS Agora, said the inaugural Agora is a historic first for graduate legal education in North America. "The Agora is the centerpiece of the ATLAS collaboration, which aspires to make a major contribution to research and scholarship through cooperative learning opportunities. Through ATLAS and the annual Agora, we are fostering the development of sought-after graduates who will shape the directions of legal scholarship and legal education in generations to come."

In addition to three weeks of teaching and learning, the students will also hear major addresses from this year’s Distinguished ATLAS Lecturers, including McMaster University philosophy Professor Wil Waluchow, who will speak on the topic, "Analytical Philosophy Meets Metaphor: The ‘Living Tree’ of Judicial Interpretation", on Wednesday, July 16; and Simon Taylor, co-founder and director of Global Witness, who will lecture on "A Failure of Leadership: Lame Thinking on Energy and the Risk of Conflict" on Wednesday, July 23. Both lectures will take place at 7.15pm in Room 206 at Osgoode Hall Law School, Keele campus.

Agora participants are chosen by each partner’s graduate program from among its own doctoral cohort. "The value of the Agora for doctoral students is that it provides a singular opportunity to network and initiate lasting intellectual partnerships as well as receive feedback with respect to one’s work and ideas from peers and professors," said Scott. He added that the venue of the Agora will rotate annually among the founding partners of ATLAS with the 2009 Agora to be hosted by the London School of Economics & Political Science.

There is also a virtual dimension to the ATLAS experience, consisting largely of optional participation in Internet nodes – notably discussion threads, chat facilities and information-sharing facilities – designed to promote interaction among students. Prior to this year’s Agora, participants were invited to use the Virtual ATLAS to learn something about the other participants and their doctoral work. After the Agora, participants will be encouraged to use Virtual ATLAS to keep each other informed of their ongoing doctoral work and subsequent careers.

For more information about ATLAS and the 2008 Agora, visit the ATLAS Web site.