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New Course Wins Faculty Award

Participants honored for their innovative endeavors to create novel class for first-year students.

Photograph by Vicki Sanders

The inaugural Faculty Prize for Innovation in Pedagogy has been awarded to the team of faculty and students who designed and executed the new 1L course on Critical Perspectives in Law and Professional Identity

The new award was created in order to recognize initiatives undertaken by Boston College Law School faculty. According to Associate Dean for Faculty and Global Programs Katie Young, such initiatives include “the introduction of distinctive technology in the classroom; new approaches to clinical and experiential learning; informed methods for discussion of challenging topics, such as race and the law and other disciplines of learning; adaptations to particular student needs or concerns, such as first-generation law students; and other innovations.”

The Critical Perspectives course has offered a vital new paradigm in which to introduce first-year students to the study and practice of law; one which is responsive to issues of identity and the profession, and offers a different and yet concurrent framework from which to understand the traditional 1L courses.

The course innovated on multiple fronts. The selection committee commended several features in particular: student leadership and faculty responsiveness, team collaboration and experimentation, and the courage to undertake difficult and/or novel forms of pedagogy and reflection. 

The course arose in direct response to student advocacy for expanded first year course offerings. It inaugurated a small-group model for students in the fall of their first year that aimed to give students a space for reflection and community building. The course also integrated the efforts of traditional “podium” faculty, clinical faculty, writing faculty, visiting faculty, and even students, in order to devise a completely new structure of adding plenary and larger lectures to regular small group seminars. It was made mandatory during the first year. 

In addition, this was achieved under the pressures of a continuing global pandemic. The course meant that Boston College was at the forefront of changes to the 1L experience, later required for all US law schools by the American Bar Association. 

The entire teaching team involved was collectively nominated for this award. Recipients are the core planning committee (Cheryl Bratt, Laurel Davis, Claire Donohue, Dan Farbman, Reena Parikh, and Evangeline Sarda); faculty facilitators (Paulo Barozzo, Jessica Berry, Bratt, Donohue, Gerri Hines, Steve Koh, Alan Minuskin, Parikh, Sarda, Sandy Tarrant, Paul Tremblay, Daniela Urosa, and Maureen Van Neste); and faculty lecturers (Donohue, Farbman, Koh, and Young). The student volunteers who helped lead the small groups were also honored; they are Jessica Barbaria, Isabella Forcino, Vannessa Lawrence, Louise Lyall, Daniel McLaughlin, Adrián Santiago Ortiz, and Osman Yasin.