Classes

    Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This workshop offers the student hands-on experience in analyzing, evaluating, and creating legal policy on a range of issues related to gender violence. The three main areas of concentration are campus sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking and prostitution. We advise government officials (local, state and federal); national, international, and local advocacy groups working to stop gender violence; and individuals needing assistance in knowing their rights or accessing services. Recent activities include submitting comments to the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault; helping an advocacy organization on preventing domestic violence homicide; and preparing a training for Middlesex County Police Chiefs on investigating sex trafficking rings.
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    Sex Equality

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    The relation between sex equality under law and sex and gender inequality in society is interrogated in theory and practice in the context of relevant social science, history, and international and comparative law. Mainstream equality doctrine is probed on its own terms and through an alternative. Cases largely on U.S. law focusing on concrete issues--including work, family, rape, sexual harassment, lesbian and gay rights, abortion, prostitution, pornography--structure the inquiry. Race, economic class, and transsexuality are mainstreamed. The purpose of the course is to understand, criticize, and expand the law toward sex and gender equality, including between women and men, as well as to expand the equality paradigm.

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    Gender Identity and the Law

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    From participation in the military to hormone coverage for transgender youth, transgender issues cut to the heart of some of the hardest questions we face today about the relationship between law, politics, science, medicine, public opinion, and identity. This course examines this complex and novel area of law in the context of a changing judicial and political landscape. Students will be encouraged to consider all points of view and delve into the strongest arguments for and against efforts to expand legal protections for transgender people.
    Taught by a leading practitioner in the field, this course emphasizes the legal tools and decision-making processes involved in doing pathbreaking civil rights work. Students will gain an insight into the strategic and ethical tradeoffs involved in using the legal and political system to enact societal change.
    Topics covered include: overview of gender identity and the development of transgender rights; constitutional and statutory frameworks for legal recognition of gender identity; access to sex-segregated spaces and activities; religion-, speech-, and ethics-based objections; access to health care and reproductive technology; non-binary and intersex identities; race and transgender experience; and unique considerations in military, family, and prison litigation.
    Class materials include: case law, case documents, legislative materials, regulatory materials, press accounts, legal scholarship, and sources from other academic disciplines.... Read more about Gender Identity and the Law

    Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    At the intersection of debates about religion, private morality and public policy, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are lightning rods of controversy in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced with regard to abortion rights, but is also evident in an array of other SRHR issues. Drawing on examples from constitutional and high courts in Latin America and Africa, as well as cases in various regional and international supra-national human rights forums, the course will explore: the historical origins of asserting international legal claims to SRHR; challenges and benefits of turning toward domestic courts and international forums to advance sexual and reproductive health; evolving narratives of women’s agency and state obligations; and power dynamics/conflicts within global SRHR advocacy. We will discuss the limitations of the autonomy narrative and adoption of “reproductive justice” paradigm in the US, and compare that with evolutions of SRHR in other national contexts, as well as in international law. Some of the topics to be covered include: gender-based violence; involuntary sterilization; abortion; access to care (obstetric care/LGBTQ access to care); disrespect and abuse/obstetric violence; SRHR of persons with disabilities; assisted reproductive technologies; and SRHR in an era of conservative populism and backlash against so-called “gender ideology.”
    Issues of SRHR present an opportunity to extend thinking on judicial review across contexts of varying levels of democratic consolidation, as well as to critically examine the effectiveness of international human rights law in changing “lived realities.” On the one hand, the marginalization of claimants suggests a place for counter-majoritarian rights protection. Similarly, advocates have sought to set standards in international human rights forums, as these spaces have been perceived as less “tainted” by the political power structures that inflect domestic law and institutions. On the other hand, the morally contested nature of SRHR norms often complicates the claims of courts and supra-national forums to special competence, limits their ability to catalyze the politics of implementation (including within health systems), and inspires backlash. We will explore lessons with respect to how engaging with different SRHR issues can affect the sociological legitimacy of tribunals at domestic and international levels, as well as public attitudes and the dynamics of social conflict.... Read more about Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

    Critical Perspectives on Transgender Law

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    This reading group explores American law related to and affecting transgender, genderfluid, nonbinary, agender, and gender-nonconforming people. We will discuss contemporary cases involving transgender rights, as well as historical cases where the rights of transgender litigants were directly or indirectly contested. Readings will incorporate case law, sociological perspectives, and direct first-person narratives. By looking at law through the lens of transgender experiences, the class will critique legal assumptions about gender and reflect upon how law as a whole could be made less cis-normative.

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    Title IX: Sex and Equality on Campus

    Semester: 

    Winter

    Offered: 

    2020

    Title IX of the Civil Rights Act promises equal access to educational opportunities. This has been one of the most dynamic areas of civil rights jurisprudence in the recent past, and promises to remain so in the future. While the Obama Administration prioritized the protection of students from sexual assault, the current Department of Education has retreated significantly from this position. This leads us to question various aspects of administrative rulemaking, law enforcement and social policy. What is the role of an administrative agency in enforcing civil rights? What power does the public have to compel enforcement? What other avenues are available to achieve sex equality at schools? How do we formulate policy that provides fairness to both sides of case while preserving the integrity of the purpose of Title IX?
    Issues surrounding Title IX include rights to sexual autonomy, bodily integrity, gender expression and the right to be free from sex discrimination in an educational environment. This intensive course offers the opportunity to delve deeply into these critical issues of gender equality.... Read more about Title IX: Sex and Equality on Campus

    Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course offers an in-depth examination of the phenomenon of gender-motivated violence. Following a consideration of the prevalence and variation of types of sexual violence and coercion around the world, we consider questions such as: How, if at all, is violence against women different from other types of violence? How effective have legal strategies to address violence against women been, and what shifts in thinking about gender-motivated violence would be necessary finally to eradicate it? How has the #MeToo movement reshaped the possibility of legal reform? How does the toleration of sexual violence shape people’s expectations and sense of entitlements? What are the implications of gender-based violence for the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws? Does equal protection itself have a gendered meaning and reality?
    Among the types of violence against women we will consider are: intimate-partner violence; domestic homicide; prostitution; rape; sex trafficking of women and children; and violence against women facilitated by the Internet. The readings consist of primary and secondary materials drawn from several disciplines: law, social science, political science, public health, psychology, evolutionary biology and women and gender studies.
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    Feminist Legal Theory

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    This course will examine and compare eight major strands of contemporary North Atlantic feminism: liberal feminism, dominance feminism, cultural feminism, socialist/materialist feminism, economic feminism in a liberal market frame, critical race feminism, postmodern feminism, and the relations between feminism and conservatism. We will read classics in feminist legal theory and case studies allowing us to examine and compare the ways in which various strands of feminism have engaged law and law reform. The goals of this course is to enable each student to make informed decisions about which strands of feminist legal theory work best for them and to give all students a strong understanding of how past stages in the development of feminist legal theory and law reform help to shape contemporary expressions of feminism.
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    Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    This interdisciplinary course will explore the politics of reproductive health and health care delivery, both in the US and globally, with a particular focus on how reproduction and related clinical care are shaped by and in turn shape social inequality along axes of race, gender, and social class. The course will intertwine three threads: 1) major conceptual and theoretical issues foundational to understanding the politics and epidemiology of reproduction; 2) contemporary and historical perspectives on specific reproductive phenomena and events (preventing pregnancy, terminating pregnancy, sustaining pregnancy, and giving birth); 3) social movements organized around reproductive health (e.g. anti-abortion, reproductive justice movements).
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    Gender and Public Policy Seminar: Promoting Diversity in Organizations

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    The Gender and Public Policy Seminar has been designed to give students an opportunity to engage with leading-edge scholars and practitioners working to advance gender equality. Because the subject of “gender and public policy” is too wide ranging and global to address within a single semester, we aim to focus the course each year on a “spotlight” issue. 

    The spotlight focus for the Spring 2020 semester is promoting race and gender equality at work. More specifically, the seminar will cover organizationally-relevant research on workplace discrimination, and offer a model...

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    21st Century Global Feminisms

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    If girls “run the world”, why is gender equality so hard to achieve? It has been 100 years since women gained voting rights in the US and many European countries, 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and China’s state policy of gender equality, 50 years since the transnational Women’s Liberation movement, and 25 years since the UN Beijing Declaration. Yet, as a group, women and girls lag behind men and boys in almost every metric of social and economic power globally – and systematic data about gender non-binary people are scarcely available. This course is designed to empower students as change agents in the fight for global gender equality through a three-part toolkit: conceptual foundations; structural analyses; and repertoires of action, policies, and praxis. Our goal is to gain confidence and fluency in key terms, concepts, and debates in feminism and gender issues to facilitate dynamic learning and collaborative action. We will then learn to analyze, map, and interrogate gendered power structures locally and globally, seeking to understand how gender works in concert with other inequalities from women’s homes to the halls of power. How might we explain: why some countries and contexts are further along than others in achieving gender equality; why patriarchal backlash is so persistent; and whether capitalism is compatible with feminism? Finally, this future-oriented course turns toward feminist practices, policies, and actions that have been implemented and enacted from the individual to the national level. We will examine different strategies for achieving equality – their promises and pitfalls – seeking out opportunities for innovation and future transformation.
    This course is built on intersectional and decolonized approaches to feminism, which serve as the state-of-the-art starting point for achieving gender equality in the 21st century. The course refers to feminismsbecause pluralism is both an empirical fact underpinning gender politics in global perspective, and a normative commitment for learning from feminist movements’ multiplicity and diversity. Throughout the course we will discuss various forms of oppression and discrimination as they relate to inequality – including racism, imperialism, and economic exploitation. However, this course is primarily focused on analyzing feminist and womxn’s struggles for freedom, rights, and dignity and will therefore engage with overlapping hierarchies as intrinsic to understanding how gendered power works (another course might examine the inverse to equally illuminating effect). Early on we will examine and discuss the gender binary that dominates most cultures’ conception of and language for describing sex, gender identities, and social norms. Students will be given time and tools to examine their own gendered identities, experiences, and social-political and -economic positions. And – in light of this work – we will commit to read, speak, and listen freely and inclusively, with rigor and kindness in accordance with community norms set by the class.... Read more about 21st Century Global Feminisms

    Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Bioethics

    Semester: 

    Winter

    Offered: 

    2020

    In its attention to gender, race, and sexuality, feminist bioethics challenges and expands contemporary bioethical theory and practice. Drawing from philosophy, theology, law, medicine, public health, and the social and biological sciences, this interdisciplinary field is both critical and constructive in addressing bioethical theory, method, and substantive ethical concerns across the clinical, research, organizational, public policy, and global spheres. In a largely seminar format, we will review the theoretical landscape and social movements that prompted the emergence of feminist...

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    "Unwelcome": Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and on Campus

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This module will focus on the challenging legal, policy and organizational issues ingrained in various approaches to the pressing public problem of sexual harassment in the workplace and on campus, including examination of  the structures and interventions – successful and not - that organizations have developed to respond to that policy environment in practice. The goal is to provide students with an understanding of what  is considered “sexual harassment” in the law , what are the actual experiences and career effects on those who have experienced it, what ...

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    "Unwelcome": Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and on Campus

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This module will focus on the challenging legal, policy and organizational issues ingrained in various approaches to the pressing public problem of sexual harassment in the workplace and on campus, including examination of the structures and interventions - successful and not - that organizations have developed to respond to that policy environment in practice. The goal is to provide students with an understanding of what is considered “sexual harassment” in the law , what are the actual...

    Read more about "Unwelcome": Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and on Campus

    Sex, Love, and Marriage in the Middle Ages

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020

    This class explores the relationships of passion, love, and obligation that bound men and women over the course of nearly two millennia, from Rome in the first century B.C.E. to sixteenth-century Italy. In particular, it focuses on how those relationships were organized legally and institutionally, on the social roles created by such relationships, and on the connection (or lack thereof) between marriage, love, and sexual passion.... Read more about Sex, Love, and Marriage in the Middle Ages

    Society and Health

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course analyzes major social variables that affect population health: poverty, social class, gender, race, family, community, work, behavioral risks, and coping resources. It examines health consequences of social and economic policies, and the potential role of specific social interventions.... Read more about Society and Health

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