Student Reflections on Dr. Mboya’s course

What follows is a series of anonymous class reflections from Dr. Atieno Mboya Samandari’s class on Law, Sustainability, and Development.

Reflection 1

Equality, as a concept, is a wonderful thing. I have always been moved by John Rawls “Original Position” thought experiment where we design our society/institutions from behind a “veil of ignorance” that prevents us from knowing which race, gender, or economic status we would be assigned in our society. From that original position, people would be incentivized to create a more just and fair system. In “The Vulnerable Subject”, Martha Fineman highlights how our current conception of equality fails to account for discrimination/disparities that are less-easily demarcated.

Fineman mentions that the American legal system has focused on abrupt instances of inequality such as racism and gender discrimination. This equality as “sameness of treatment” approach is not without its merits, but it also has a downside. Our hyper focus on the individual leads us to overlook the systemic causes of inequality that are ever-present and operational. I thought her perspective on group identity politics was very interesting. In America, it seems like we only give the stage to one marginalized group at a time. I am not sure if it is due to lack of attentional bandwidth at a national level or for some other reason, but it has the consequence of creating a zero-sum situation where focusing on one marginalized group takes the attention away from other marginalized groups and their grievances. While all of this is going on, it distracts us from addressing the systematic causes of inequality that begin with our institutions. To me, it seems like we tell ourselves a story about being a society that values equality, but we don’t adjust our institutions in such a way that scales with that value. I believe we value equality, we just aren’t effective at addressing the causes of it.

Fineman takes a more universal approach to basing equality in the human condition. She sets out her conception of vulnerability and explains we all have different predispositions to vulnerability based on our mix of economic resources and institutional relationships. I really like this approach because it doesn’t create groups that are under or over-inclusive. It compensates for the systematic difficulties posed on race and gender without creating overly broad groups based on those factors alone. It acknowledges that some people from racially marginalized groups (weaker institutional relationships) can still have command over significant economic resources, just as racial majorities can have strong institutional relationships but lack economic resources. Therefore, it tends to focus more on the wellbeing of the individuals involved rather than solely on superficial differences between them.

Lastly, this paper reified the importance of institutional strength in our society. Our tendency to take responsibility away from the public sector and privatize it creates real problems. The schema we currently have claims, and even seems, to be committed to individual equality. Yet, we our making the institutions that legally define and protect our values more and more benign. How can we truly address inequality in our society when we continuously offload important social maintenance into the hands of capitalistically motivated corporations/groups? I think Fineman’s use of vulnerability as a heuristic might a great answer to this.

Reflection 2

In The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition author Martha Albertson Fineman argued for a more responsive state in the United States. As we have learned, most countries around the world, including the United States, have states with a reduced role. Some countries like Japan, South Korea, and China have a stronger role for the state. This made me wonder if Fineman would consider modeling the United States after one of these countries to make it a more responsive state. She also argued for a more egalitarian state in the United States. This made me consider whether she would appreciate incorporating more communist ideals or more welfare economics into the United States.

I agree with Fineman that the state is not withering away and that it is the creator of legitimate social organizations. It was disturbing to read about how families are creations of the state, but it also makes sense to me because western law has developed in a way that focuses on wiping away community and family, so the individual has a relationship with the state. This means that the state has great control over the family structure. When she described how the government is involved in contracts even though people try to isolate transactions it further solidified in my mind how the government is so entrenched in people’s everyday lives.

Since the state is already so involved in individuals’ lives, I do not think a more responsive state would be any more corrupt. I agree that the state is in a better position to implement public values and it must do so because that is why people agreed to have governments in the first place. I believe that freedom still needs to be balanced with these public values, but I think that the basic needs of citizens need to be met. As Polanyi believed, the state needs to provide housing and education, or the people will rebel. I wonder how close we are getting to a permanent rebellion in the United States especially with current events like the eviction moratorium just being struck down by the Supreme Court.

People are not always responsible for their setbacks. Reading about vulnerability in this article makes me think of the American dream and how I disagree that you can rise to wherever you want to be. Starting with colonialism in the United States inequality makes some people disproportionately more vulnerable and sometimes that vulnerability cannot be overcome.

Reading Fineman’s chapter “Reasoning from the Body: Universal Vulnerability and Social Justice” she hopes that there can be more advancement in equality. I wonder how far away that advancement could be and if we are on the right track. Fineman says we need a new legal framework looking through the lens of vulnerability. How do we reconcile Fineman’s view with Gopal’s about how a legal framework should develop naturally? We want equality but we want it to last and not break down like failed western law transplants.

Gopal thought the new version of law and development should be to look at each country’s legal system developing in its unique way and not universally. Fineman is trying to come up with a legal framework based on universal human reality. How will that affect each country’s individuality? Can we take shared human characteristics like vulnerability into account and still allow our legal frameworks to develop uniquely and naturally?

How do we fix the problems Fineman brought up in employment law? If somehow our nation changes from its worship of money will employer and employee relationships be more equitable? If we change the employer-employee relationship to more public values our local reality would have to adapt to the law which is the opposite of Gopal’s view. Maybe we could proactively encourage more equality in employment law step by step. It is important to have individual culture, but it is also inescapable that all humans have some shared characteristics, and it would make sense to take them into account in legal frameworks.

Reflection 3

Both Fineman selections for this week focused on her assertion that the idea of the “vulnerable subject” should replace previous liberal analysis focusing on the “autonomous, self-sufficient rational” subject. According to Fineman, using a vulnerability analysis shifts discussions of equality from focusing on personal identity and responsibility to focusing on the role of the state and societal institutions in producing privilege/disadvantage. It is a “post-identity” inquiry which aims at a more responsive state and more egalitarian society by first focusing on the body and the inevitability of dependency. Her critique relies heavily on the idea of institutions, both formally created institutions and informal social institutions. I appreciated Fineman’s attention to privilege and disadvantage, but thought she went too far in trying to separate it from identity. The vulnerability an individual has may be both related and unrelated to their identities, and may be exasperated by both institutions (as Fineman notes) and identity, history, culture, etc. Fineman acutely points out that “systems of power and privilege… interact to produce webs of advantages and disadvantages,” however I do not think that these systems are divorced completely from identity and often purposefully produce advantages/disadvantages based on cultural perceptions of identities. I do think vulnerability analysis helps to see how many problems in society transcend discrimination and exclusion from social institutions.

Vulnerability theory focuses on human embodiment and bodily needs, which are ever-present and ever-changing. While every individual is “particularly” vulnerable in unique ways, society can lessen and compensate for the vulnerability through institutions and structures. The current emphasis on individual choice masks social responsibility of the state and institutions, something Fineman is trying to correct through vulnerability analysis. Fineman accurately points out that the current American society has no guarantee for many basic social goods which directly affect the body, such as food, housing, and healthcare. One of the strengths of vulnerability theory within these two articles was its ability to address the limits of “identity politics” and showcase disadvantages that could affect any human, or citizen of a particular state. She criticizes the idea of state inefficiency, noting that efficiency may not be an appropriate measure of state success at all. The alternatives she suggests – equality, justice, fairness – are difficult to implement as they are difficult to quantify. I agree that the difficulty in quantification should not be an immediate bar to pursuing, but I think Fineman does not do much to shed light on how the empirical methods she suggests could be implemented in large and complex societies. As Fineman points out, law and policy have practical implications and organize individual experiences and expectations. How can vulnerability analysis fit within our current legal and policy frameworks when so much of the analysis is individualized or empirically based? Regardless of how it achieves the goal, I agree that the state, as creator of various social institutions, should assume a “corresponding responsibility to see that these organizations operate in an equitable manner.”

One notion I thought was particularly interesting was the concept that to use the term “vulnerability” is advantageous because it is under-theorized and ambiguous, giving the ability to “explore and excavate” the relationships within the term and open new avenues. If there is merit to this understanding of how discourse and rhetoric shape public perceptions and policies, why not also push for a similarly new term for “development”? As we have seen from our previous readings, “development” is a term which can be used in a variety of contexts (from social development to economic development, etc.) In each use, “development” is a value-laden term which assumes something of less value is progressing towards something of more value. This is particularly troublesome when used to label entire countries and populations as “developing” or “developed.” Is there an alternative term that the law and development movement could use moving forward, which isn’t stained by the colonial and Western-centered histories of the development moments to this point?

From my reading, it seemed as though Fineman was attempting to produce a universally-applicable critical theory lens to displace previous ones, but spoke about the “state” in a way which assumed all states act in similar ways and are structured similarly. Her aspirations for state action and her description of the inner workings of state structure seemed to heavily rely on models of the state seen in the West, which may not look or operate similarly to various states across the world which are not as industrialized or democratized, or which do not share the same liberal historical thinking she is attempting to replace. However, one question Fineman posed which I think is fruitful to think through regardless of the specific state, is: what does an active, yet non-authoritarian state, look like? How can state structures and law empower the “vulnerable subject” and lead to more equitable distribution of assets and privilege? This will likely look different depending on the country, population, and individual it is applied to, but the question is a helpful one regardless.

Overall, I appreciated how a vulnerability analysis places the lived human experience at the forefront, and emphasizes responsibility from the state and powerful institutions. Further, I appreciated the analysis of the law as “both inherently a social endeavor and a primary instrument of accomplishing social justice” which establishes and regulates duties and rights, and defines relationships between individuals, and between individuals and the state. While Fineman’s analysis predominantly focused on relationships and action items between the state and individual citizens, the analysis can be extended to the relationships of states and international organizations with individuals within the development context where responsibility is not placed solely on individuals and their ability to “develop” despite disadvantages.


  • Does vulnerability analysis as Fineman has presented it address environmental sustainability? If not, can sustainability measures be added to vulnerability analysis?
  • How do environmental climate change considerations directly disadvantage or privilege certain individuals, and how does climate change directly affect human vulnerability and resiliency?
  • How can, and should, law and policy implement vulnerability analysis in ways which are feasible to current legal and political frameworks? How can we avoid the “transplant effect” in attempting to implement vulnerability analysis across states and cultures?
  • Can vulnerability and inherent dependency be used to foster greater attention to climate change and environmental crises?
  • Does vulnerability analysis account for historical moments such as colonialism and imperialism, and the continued effects of colonialism on individuals and populations?

Is there a difference in the “equality” Fineman discusses throughout her works and “equity”? If so, does it make a difference in Fineman’s critiques of the non-discrimination/identity-based work the US has done thus far?

Reflection 4

This reflection covers the two readings for class (08/30): “The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition” and “Reasoning from the Body: Universal Vulnerability and Social Justice” by Martha Albertson Fineman. These both focused on the vulnerability theory; how the theory should be viewed, applied, and considered when regarding and, ideally, solving the basic (yet extremely complex) inequalities in through the world’s institutions.

As described in “The Vulnerable Subject”, under the vulnerability theory, the individual should not be viewed as an autonomous holder of rights; instead, to a vulnerability theorist, to be human is to be vulnerable. The theory rests on the assumption that the autonomous individual is a simple and unrealistic view of the human condition – this individual is simply a foundation for the politics of limited government and a state that serves the interests of the few, in the interest of the powerful. This individual is the base for the “restrained state,” suffocated by reliance on self; the isolated state of the individual under the restrained state facilitates the universal vulnerability of individuals throughout the world. But, according to Fineman, vulnerability is not synonymous for disadvantaged, discriminated against, or injured. In response to this vulnerability, Fineman suggests that by making vulnerability central in an analysis of equality, the state’s focus will be redirected onto the societal institutions which are created in response to individual vulnerability.

Fineman suggests that the state will be more responsive to the vulnerable institution, as it would have been created through the authority of the state. Conceptually, this makes sense as the state would be directly responsible for those impacted by their own institution, but there are prevalent flaws. While a more controlling state would be more receptive to these institutions, there would be potential for corruption – while it is unfair to assess the individual as an autonomous being, it is naïve to imagine that individuals will not act in their self-interest. It is nice to imagine a world where the state would constantly monitor vulnerable groups and ensure that all people are on an equal field within these groups, monetary restraints on the state would prevent equality from manifesting; taxpayers who are not benefitted would be unwilling to lose for the advancement of the vulnerable. Even if enacted, the state would inevitably react to the vulnerabilities of certain institutions, at the expense of other vulnerable groups; bias would be an undeniable factor, even if not at the individual level.

History has been riddled with bias, leaving a disturbing wake of prejudice. It would be a disservice to these groups if the years of prejudice and inequality were not addressed, and while Fineman claims that race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. from historically underrepresented groups should still be consider, she fails to describe how this would realistically be accomplished through the Vulnerability Theory. I think that it is unrealistic to assume that there would be a willingness to adapt to a view that the foundation of humanity is vulnerability. People throughout the world want to believe that their individuality is the defining characteristic of humanity, their self-interests will prevent them from association with conformity.

I found the critique that individuals, who are not impacted by the promotion of underrepresented groups, view these advancements as injury to their own life fascinating. It leads me to wonder if this thought process is based on monetary issues (i.e., paying taxes for a social inequality that does not impact the taxpayer directly is a waste of money), if it is based on the insecurities of the individual (i.e., a person is receiving a ‘handout’ therefore they have not worked as hard as someone that did not receive this), or if it is simply a response to shared vulnerabilities. Under the Vulnerability Theory, people of all races, sexes, and sexual orientations would be members of institutions according to their vulnerabilities, expanding the scope of protections and avoiding arbitrary classifications. Institutions are symbiotic, if there was a system of institutions set to work in harmony, many of the individual insecurities that people hold onto would evaporate; helping one vulnerable institution would provide direct and meaningful results to an individual’s own vulnerabilities. If a society embraced this notion, the collective human being would thrive.

I found much of these articles intriguing, but I have very serious doubts about the application of the Vulnerability Theory. I believe that it is an idea that could change the way that inequality is viewed and rectified, but I am not convinced of its applicability in an established nation. The Vulnerability Theory is only relevant without considering the “liberal” individual, only when ignoring that people ultimately will act in their own self-interest first.

A vulnerability analysis: Theorising the impact of artificial intelligence decision-making processes on individuals, society and human diversity from a social justice perspective

by Tanya Krupiy

Image via Pixabay

3. Thinking about AI decision-making processes as an institution that brings about transformative effects

The employment of AI decision-making processes is part of a larger trend of digital technologies transforming society.170 There is a view that digital technologies are ushering in a Fourth Industrial Revolution.171 The vulnerability theory is a fruitful lens for better understanding the AI decision-making processes and what kind of values these processes enact. It sheds light on some of the institutional and societal changes the employment of AI decision-making processes introduces from the perspective of social justice. As a result, one gains insight into how the cumulative use of automated decision-making processes is likely to impact on individuals and society at large from the vantage point of social justice.

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Beyond Identities: The Limits of an Antidiscrimination Approach to Equality (2012)

by Martha L.A. Fineman


Image via Pixabay


The vulnerability and the human condition thesis presents a foundation for the argument that there is a state responsibility to monitor the promises of equality of access and opportunity that are fundamental to American society’s construction of itself as the “land of opportunity.” My argument is that to attain broad general opportunity and access in today’s world, the state must be responsive to individual, social, and institutional circumstances so that equality is anchored in the realities of the human condition and not some abstract and unachievable “ideal.” In particular, it is surely true that the reality of our universal fragility plays some role in the construction of societal institutions.
Just as surely, how those institutions respond to our collective and individual vulnerability should form part of the basis upon which they are judged by and incorporated into society. To see how these insights are relevant to political
and ethical assessments of what constitutes a “just” state, I seek to reconsider the components of the basic social compact on three levels: Who is cast as the universal legal subject? How are the nature and function of societal institutions understood? What are ascribed to be the responsibilities of the state or collective to individuals and institutions?

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Vulnerability Theory in Local Practice

by Nicole Phillis

Legal theorists are often criticized for developing legal philosophies without a means for practical application.  But in recent months, I had the opportunity to implement Professor Fineman’s vulnerability theory firsthand in local government.  Let me explain.

Since 2014, I have served as an elected official in Santa Monica as a Commissioner on the Santa Monica Rent Control Board.  Through the course of the pandemic, a significant amount of City employees were laid off due to loss of revenue to our City.  Further, the righteous protests for Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Eric Garner forced us to confront the militarization of law enforcement, and the systemic failures of government to protect Black people from systemic oppression, abuse, and persecution.  These events impelled us to re-examine what we believe is the purpose of local government and what we want our new reimagined government to look like.

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Incarcerated Women and Institutional Captivity

by Brenda Baker

In the television series, Orange is the New Black the topic of incarcerated women brought to light the life of women behind bars. Prior to this popular book and television series, very little attention was given to women in correctional settings. The Hollywood version of female incarceration provided by the popular series, challenged our common stereotypes about women as caretakers, maternal figures, and gave us a glimpse into the reality that women have been impacted by numerous conditions resulting in time behind bars.

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Other Laws, Other Worlds – Abstract

by Camilla S. Jydebjerg

This abstract by Camilla S. Jydebjerg serves as a preview for her upcoming visiting scholar presentation which will take place on August 6, 2021.

In my presentation, I will analyze how the Danish Welfare State responds to unemployment. The purpose of the investigation is to determine if and how this response constitutes possibilities of resilience for people encountering unemployment. Along with most other OECD welfare states the politics of workfare or active labor market policies have become the most pervasive political answer to counter unemployment from the 1990s onward (Caswell 2010).  Workfare means “work-for-your-welfare” and can be characterized by that “participation is compulsory for the claimants, i.e., that there are sanctions attached, that the prime activity is work and that the measure is part of social assistance” (Dahl 2003, p. 274). The move towards workfare has been described as a fundamental change in both the meaning and understanding of social welfare rights and the administration of social welfare, turning the exclusion from work into the center of the relationship between society and people experiencing a need of assistance from the state (Handler 2004).

In my presentation, I will analyze a ruling from the Danish Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of workfare laws. Drawing on Vulnerability Theory as well as on the insights from The Feminist Judgement Movement, I will show how the inherent politicality of this ruling promotes, produces, and reproduces particular understandings of the relationship between human beings and work, autonomy and vulnerability and the state/the collective and the individual in three ways. The first is the blurring of the dichotomies of work and activation and of force and choice/voluntariness. The second is how the plaintiff comes to be recognized by the legal system. This recognition has to do with what the law can recognize as relevant and what stays hidden to the categories of law. The third is what is considered reasonable to ask of people receiving social assistance and who is doing the asking. I will show how this legal privileging of particular understandings takes part in shaping the world and I will investigate how a rewrite of the court case in the light of Vulnerability Theory would make another outcome possible by a different weighing of the factual information of the cases and a different interpretation of the law.

Finally, I will discuss how another reading of the law would have created other possibilities for law- and world creations in practice.

Human Rights and the Global Climate Change Regime

by Atieno Mboya

Image via YouTube Video Screenshot

“Climate change is the most pressing environmental issue of the 21stcentury. The problem has arisen from exploitation of Earth’s carbon-based resources such as oil, coal and natural gas, which produce more than two-thirds of the global greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change. These gases accumulate in the stratosphere and re-radiate heat rising from Earth back to the planet, causing an enhanced greenhouse effect, also known as global warming. This warming is precipitating more frequent extreme and unpredictable weather events, such as typhoons, floods, droughts, heat waves, wild fires, ice melts and rising sea levels. Earth’s climate is changing.

Climate change is bringing new socio-economic vulnerabilities into human lives and livelihoods, which are being felt in agricultural production, human health, access to potable water and threats to habitats of coastal communities, to name a few. In the agricultural arena, for example, unpredictable rainfall patterns are destabilizing planting and harvesting seasons. In human health, the spread of deadly diseases like malaria and dengue fever into new areas is an emerging threat. Floods and droughts are restricting communities’ access to sufficient, reliable potable water. Rising sea levels especially imperil coastal and island communities, threatening to engulf homes and, in cases like Tuvalu’s, entire island states, portending a climate refugee crisis. It is now understood that intensive carbon-based industrialization is unsustainable.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) during the preparation of its Fifth Assessment Report, notes that while all societies stand to suffer some negative impacts of climate change, “there is an equity issue, because some of the poorest communities in the poorest countries in the world are going to be the worst hit.” Inequality in the fallout from climate change, coupled with inequality in access to resources to adapt to the new normal or mitigate it, raises issues of justice for “the world’s poor and marginalized,” which are captured in a growing civil society platform for climate justice. The 2007 Malé Declaration notes that climate change “has clear and immediate implications for the full enjoyment of human rights, including, inter alia, the right to life, the right to take part in cultural life, the right to use and enjoy property, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to food, and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

The international community’s response, as exemplified in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement, has been primarily market-based. Markets, however, are concerned with profit-generation, not social justice. This paper will discuss human rights implications of the global market-based approaches to climate change. The neoliberal foundations of those approaches are a cause of concern, given the link between neoliberalism and growing global inequality. Neoliberalism calls for free markets and deregulation, opening domestic markets to foreign competition, and privatizing state enterprises to reduce the role of the state. This approach to climate change has negative implications for human rights protections for constituencies that have limited economic resources and yet face the worst impacts of climate change.

This paper examines human rights implications of the market-based approaches to climate change and argues that greater attention to human rights will promote a more equitable climate regime. Section 1 discusses the urgency of the climate problem and the need for the duty bearers to respond to the claims of rights holders. Section 2 traces the development of the climate regime. Section 3 examines the market-based responses and critiques the skewed nature of emissions rights allocations that have left developing countries disadvantaged in the growing carbon market. Section 4 discusses parallels and disparities between the carbon market and the global currency market, underlining the imbalance between developed and developing countries in the established currency market and the burgeoning carbon market. The section also discusses human rights impacts of the market-based approach to climate change. Section 5 concludes the analysis.”

Atieno M. Samandari, Human Rights and the Global Climate Change Regime, 58 Nat. Resources J.50 (2018).                                                                                     Available at:

Disability, Vulnerability, and the Limits of Antidiscrimination

by Ani B. Satz

Image via Pixabay

“Abstract: Despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), disabled Americans face substantial barriers to entry into the workplace, lack material supports including health care and transportation, and may not receive reasonable accommodation that best supports their functioning. In addition, individuals with impairments have difficulty qualifying as disabled for disability protections. In light of these problems, some commentators suggest that a civil rights or antidiscrimination approach to disability discrimination—an approach for which activists fought for twenty years prior to the enactment of the ADA—may not adequately address disability discrimination. Some critics advocate a return to the social welfare model that ADA activists struggled to avoid, namely, a model focused on material supports for disabled persons.
I argue that reforming disability law requires a blend of the civil rights and social welfare models as informed by a novel lens: vulnerability as universal and constant. The current antidiscrimination approach to disability law reform is limited because it views disability as a narrow identity category and fragments disability protection. Fragmentation, a new concept I develop in this Article, results when susceptibility to disability discrimination is treated as if it arises in discrete environments, such as the workplace and particular places of public accommodation. Viewing vulnerabilities as situational generates a host of problems: it results in a patchwork of protections that do not coalesce to allow meaningful social participation, fails to appreciate the hyper-vulnerability (extreme sensitivity) of disabled individuals to certain environmental changes, artificially restricts the protected class by creating a false perception that some individuals with significant impairments are not disabled because they are able to function in particular circumstances or environments, and disregards the benefits of conceptualizing vulnerability to impairments as affecting disabled and nondisabled persons alike.

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A Reflection on Pride Month

by Mangala Kanayson

Image by Ben Butler, Happy Cup Studio

On the first day of Pride Month this year, the White House issued a proclamation on LGBTQ Pride Month while the governor of Florida signed a bill preventing some women from participating in women’s sports. The “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” bans women and girls whose assigned sex does not match their gender identity from participating in women’s sports sponsored by public middle schools, high schools, and publicly funded colleges and universities. This year has already broken the record for state anti-transgender initiatives and lawmakers in Florida, Maine, Wisconsin, and South Carolina have pushed anti-transgender legislation all month long.

Policing the bodies of people of color, women, and minorities is nothing new to American policy. School and workplace dress codes, body shaming, hiring discrimination, and racism thinly veiled as “professionalism” permeate American culture. There is always some level of institutionalized repression when it comes to self-expression in formal social settings. Anti-transgender laws, however, do more than restrict self-expression. They exclude and alienate an entire identity and ultimately aim to criminalize the existence of an already marginalized group of people.

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Reposted from “The Retirement Letters”

by Virginia Sapiro

Photo by Frank Curran for Boston University

ONE OF MY CHIEF AIMS IS TO DEVELOP CRITICAL THINKING IN MY STUDENTS. How many times have how many aspiring faculty written this about their teaching philosophy? But what do they mean? I often sense that this statement is a kind of hand wave in the direction of reading and thinking carefully.

So what does critical thinking mean, and how can professors help develop that in their students when the course is supposedly aimed at some subject other than how to think critically?

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