Doctoral students from global law schools gather for ATLAS Agora

PhD students from law schools around the world will take their scholarship to the next level in June as they gather for the 13th annual ATLAS Agora Summer School at Osgoode.

The unique event, which has been run since 2008 by the Association of Transnational Law Schools (ATLAS), will bring together 21 doctoral students from June 2 to 9. Along with Osgoode, the participating law schools or law faculties will include Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law in Israel, the Charles University Faculty of Law in the Czech Republic, Erasmus School of Law in the Netherlands, the University of Antwerp Faculty of Law in Belgium, the Sutherland School of Law at University College Dublin in Ireland, Université de Montréal Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Law at the University of Graz in Austria.

The theme of this year’s event is “Interdisciplinary and Public Facing Approaches to Legal Research.”

“This year’s ATLAS Agora is unique because all of its components are designed to help grad students ‘become’ well rounded academics,” said Professor Saptarishi Bandopadhyay, who is serving as this year’s ATLAS Agora director.

“The goal is to equip future grad students to see themselves as full-fledged academics and scholars in the real world,” he added. “We want to encourage them to think broadly about their specific legal questions, to encourage them to seek funding, to produce research that is of relevance to both specialist audiences and the general public, and to teach them to read the work of their peers critically but supportively.”

During each day of the Agora, the doctoral students will participate in an interdisciplinary seminar, PhD dissertation workshops and a professional development/knowledge dissemination seminar. Nine Osgoode faculty members are among those leading the seminars: Professors Jeffery Hewitt (Law and Indigeneity), Patricia McMahon (Legal History), Barnali Choudhury (Private Law and Climate Change), Rabiat Akande (Law & Religion), Emily Kidd White (Law and Emotion), Jennifer Nadler (Law and Philosophy), Deborah McGregor (Grant Applications) and Allan Hutchinson (Writing Essays/Op-Eds).

One of the highlights of this year’s Agora will be the PhD dissertation workshops, which are modelled on workshops organized at Harvard Law School, said Bandopadhyay. The students were asked to submit a paper of up to 8,000 words in advance and to read the papers of those in their group. Each workshop session will include four students and one faculty chair. Each paper will be discussed for approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Osgoode faculty leading the workshops will be Professors Craig Scott, Karen Drake, Dana Scott, Faisal Bhabha and Bruce Ryder.

Scott, who serves as associate dean, academic, and who co-created ATLAS in 2006, said ATLAS Agora was the first event of its kind for law school doctoral students and remains unparalleled in the international law school community.

“It was an Osgoode initiative, but we needed the five original partners to sign on,” he recalled in an email. “I am not aware of any similar doctoral consortium arrangement still.”

Due to complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlas Agora Summer Schools were cancelled in 2022 and 2020 and the 2021 event was held online.