Gonzaga and Washburn to Co-Sponsor Institute under New (and Old) Leadership
If you are familiar with the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and The Law Teacher, you probably already have noticed some changes. Washburn University School of Law is now listed alongside Gonzaga as a co-sponsor of the Institute and of The Law Teacher, and we describe ourselves as the co-directors of the Institute. Finally, we refer to the Institute as the "Institute for Law Teaching and Learning," and not as the Institute for Law School Teaching. We are thrilled to announce that Gonzaga University School of Law and Washburn University School of Law have decided to collaborate in a joint sponsorship of the renamed and reconstituted Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, and the two of us have agreed to co-direct the Institute. While we celebrate the Institute's past, we also envision an exciting future in which the Institute builds not only on its own reputation as a leader in legal education but also on the energy and excitement generated by the publications of Carnegie's Educating Lawyers and CLEA's Best Practices for Legal Education.
Here's our vision for how we'd like to build on the Institute's past success.
The name change reflects less a change in direction and more our sense that the Institute always has been about learning. The Institute has championed the notion that a teaching technique or idea only has value to the degree that it leads to learning. Thus, adding the word "learning" signifies, both to those who know the Institute and to those who don't, that the Institute will focus on the law teaching practices, habits of mind, attitudes, personal qualities and beliefs that help law students learn.
We plan to continue the Institute's successful and popular annual conferences. The Institute has sponsored 13 conferences since its inception in 1991. Addressing such topics as assessment, innovative teaching methods, and reflection, the conferences have drawn legal educators from throughout the United States and Canada, allowing professors interested in growing as law teachers to get together, exchange ideas in formal and informal settings, and to re-find inspiration and renew our commitment to our students. Some of the future conferences, including this summer's conference – Implementing Best Practices and Educating Lawyers: Techniques for Teaching Skills and Values – will be held at Gonzaga. Others will be held at Washburn. And we hope to replicate the Institute's past successes in holding conferences at other law schools interested in promoting teaching and learning, such as the Institute's past conferences at Suffolk, John Marshall, and Franklin Pierce.
The Institute will once again publish The Law Teacher twice annually, providing an outlet for law teachers interested in sharing teaching ideas and their thoughts about the law school learning process. In a nod to the electronic age and out of a desire to avoid needlessly killing trees, The Law Teacher will now come to you electronically.
We will continue to provide consulting services and workshops to law faculties interested in programs tailored to their particular needs and concerns. Between the two of us, we have consulted and spoken more than 50 times at a wide variety of US and foreign law schools.
The Institute will greatly expand its web presence, offering extensive services to law teachers and law schools interested in more immediate help with law teaching and learning issues. In the coming months, look for the following enhancements to the Institute's web offerings:
- Portals designed to link new law teachers, adjuncts, experienced full-time teachers, and even foreign law teachers to materials and information designed to meet their needs;
- A "Questions and Answers" hyperlink, addressing some common, basic questions we hear all the time, such as: Should I ban laptops? What should I say in my syllabus about my class preparation expectations? What's the best way to respond to a student question when I don't know the answer? How should I start and end my class sessions?
- An "Article or Book of the Month" hyperlink, in which we feature a recent or past article or book we think law teachers would find useful. Where possible, we will provide a link to a full text of the featured articles;
- "Idea of the Month" and "Teaching Issue of the Month" features;
- Links to law review articles, general education articles, and shorter works as "Recommended Reading";
- A full, searchable text version of Outcomes Assessment for Law Schools, Professor Greg Munro's outstanding study made even more relevant to law schools and law teachers by the Carnegie and CLEA studies of legal education;
- Information about the consulting and workshop services we provide; and
- Information about common teaching technologies and their application to law teaching.
We also plan to take the Institute in some new directions. While the two of us (and many others) have tried to be strong supporters of the scholarship of law teaching and learning and to mentor new scholars interested in writing in the field, our efforts have been neither systematic nor far reaching. As a result, new scholars in our field mostly have had to fend for themselves. We hope to change that result by creating a new, peer-reviewed journal, which we would like to begin publishing under the auspices of the Institute in the next 18-24 months. The Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Law Review will not only publish scholarly works breaking new ground in the field but also will be a mechanism for providing mentoring and other support to law teachers, including doctrinal, legal writing, clinical, academic support, and adjunct faculty members, interested in getting help in developing their ideas, even very early on in their research processes. As of now, we are envisioning an electronic law journal, but we hope to find sponsors that will allow us to distribute a paper version of the journal as widely as possible.
In short, we are excited about the Institute's future, about the opportunity to collaborate with each other and with the Institute's Advisory Board, and about all we will learn by working with the great number of law teachers committed to effective teaching and learning in the law school setting. We encourage you to contact either of us with your ideas and to let us know how the Institute (and we) can best meet your teaching development needs. We hope to see you in Spokane in June.
Professors Gerry Hess and Michael Hunter Schwartz
Co-Directors, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning