Do we need a professor for the public understanding of law? (PM)

by Paul Maharg on 21/06/2015

Final session, first up, Graeme Broadbent (Kingston U., UK).  After the appointment of Brian Cox as Prof for Public Engagement in Science, do we need it for law?  There are profs for public understanding of history, marine health and other subjects.  We’re behind, in law, says Graeme.  Information about law and legal issues is still problematic, even in an internet-enabled age.  We (ie academics) don’t have potential conflicts of interest, so we’re good candidates.  He drew a distinction between information and knowledge.  Continuing education is important.  There is a need for more information about Europe given the upcoming referendum, and about human rights,  data protection, health and safety and other areas of law.

But is a single person going to be the answer?  So Graeme (if I’ve got it right) is in general against the proposal.  But it’s an interesting suggestion all the same, because of the issues that it raises.  What would leadership look like in this domain?  One person?  Or something like the Institute for Fiscal Studies, calling out politicians in the election on their budgets?  Or some other solution?  Good comment from Liz Curran — students are great ambassadors for the law.  I chipped in with comments about Paulo Freire, examples of students as professors of law empowering people.  A thoughtful, reflective question and presentation that will undoubtedly stay with me.

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