19 Jun CfP: OJ Symposium on Virtual Learning and Critical Pedagogy
I want to call readers’ attention to an upcoming Opinio Juris symposium that is being organized by two fantastic young critical international law scholars, Mohsen al Attar (Warwick) and Rohini Sen (O.P. Jindal). They are looking for a few more contributions, per the Call for Papers — really a Call for Posts — below. Note that they would like to hear from interested scholars by June 26.
The Mode of Delivery is the Message
Critical International Legal Pedagogy in a Virtual Learning Climate
Critical approaches to international legal pedagogy germinated during the decolonisation era. Jurists such as Bedjaoui and Elias highlighted the Eurocentrism that informed the development of the modern international legal regime. Subsequently, TWAIL scholars advanced and continue to advance their critique with innovation and fervour. Next, Charlesworth, Chinkin and Otto centred the spectre of patriarchy in international legal practice. Interventions by TWAIL feminists including Nesiah and Kapur quickly followed. Scholarship on feminist international legal theory is now de rigueur when teaching international law critically. Chimni and Miéville addressed international law through Marxist framing and approach, making rich contributions to this ever expanding lexicon. In the past two years, texts by Chesterman, Owada, and Saul, articles by Fagbayibo and Lichuma, and a report by Anghie and Real spoke to the significance of other international laws in today’s research and teaching. Regions outside the Eurosphere are embracing — and affecting — developments in the international legal regime, both within and against the mainstream.
Despite the increasing popularity of critical and regional approaches, a brief look at the most popular textbooks confirms that these interventions have yet to bed into the curriculum of international law courses. Even amongst practitioners of these approaches, Eurocentric international law continues to command the spotlight. Without implying that we are all critical now, there is broad based recognition of the importance of teaching international law from perspectives that originate beyond Europe if we are to explore solutions to the ills that grip contemporary worlds.
Yet, if teaching international law critically poses a challenge in the lecture theatre, its presence in virtual teaching environments is even more fraught. Teaching is a process of intellectual exploration. It demands dialogic engagement from all parties, especially when pursuing a non-conformist approach. Online provision, however, favours the dissemination of information or, worse, acts of knowledge transference. Even supportive technologies possess a reactionary character, inhibiting rather than facilitating meaningful dialogue. We thus wonder whether this mode of delivery poses an ontological threat to critical pedagogical approaches.
Partnering with Opinio Juris, our symposium on virtual legal education will explore challenges to teaching international law critically in a virtual environment. Each contributor will speak to their experience or expectations with this mode of delivery. They will also detail their strategies for keeping Eurocentricity in check in virtual lecture theatres and ensuring that students learn more than just the mechanics of the regime. We hope to facilitate a wide-ranging and inclusive conversation, especially among scholars about their thoughts, experiences and concerns around teaching international law critically.
Those interested in contributing to the symposium should contact Dr Mohsen al Attar (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rohini Sen (email@example.com) by 26 June 2020. Please provide a tentative topic for your piece. We aim to compile 10-12 blog posts on the topic and commit to being inclusive in our selection process, ensuring wide representation of identities, approaches, and ideologies. If selected, you are to submit a blogpost in the range of 1400-1800 words by 31 July 2020. The style of writing should cohere with the norms of a scholarly blog rather than those of an academic journal (e.g. hyperlinks are required; no footnotes or endnotes). Opinio Juris will publish the invited submissions as a symposium sometime in August 2020.
We look forward to a conversation that allows us to think and rethink our teaching/learning practices.
Mohsen al Attar & Rohini Sen