JD Concentration in Critical Race & Gender Studies Offers Avenue to Address Issues of Privilege and Power

Professor Teri McMurtry-Chubb teaching in classroom

The University of Illinois Chicago School of Law (UIC Law) has launched a new JD Concentration in Critical Race & Gender Studies to provide degree candidates impassioned to use the law as a mechanism to effect racial and gender equity with the concrete tools to address society’s increasingly frequent issues of privilege and power. The new JD concentration, one of three new concentrations to debut in Fall 2021, is the first of its kind in the nation.

Under the direction of Professor Teri McMurtry-Chubb, Associate Dean for Faculty Development & Research, the JD Concentration in Critical Race & Gender Studies engages students pursuing the concentration with a rigorous course of study that examines the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality in the law and related disciplines. The concentration was designed to prepare graduates for career opportunities that focus on improving diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the legal workplace, and as drafters of policy and legislation, lobbyists, politicians and staff attorneys at public service agencies and organizations. It provides a rare opportunity in the law school curriculum for students to center both race and gender in their study of legal issues; and learn to utilize legal analytical tools outside of the Western tradition in litigation, government, and transactional practice.

“It is our hope that students in the concentration will learn how the law, policy, legislation, and regulation affect people in their everyday lives, and work in the service of justice to eliminate the inequities that result,” provides Associate Dean McMurtry-Chubb.

The new concentration’s core courses include Human Rights, Race & Mass Incarceration; Special Topics in Critical Race & Feminism; and Special Topics in Social Justice Lawyering. Concentration candidates must also complete a substantial research project on a related area of law. The concentration requirements are fulfilled through a combination of elective courses that include American Constitutional History, Comparative Human Rights and Immigration Law & Procedure and select experiential education offerings.

Faculty Director and Associate Dean Teri McMurtry-Chubb has developed diversity, equity and inclusion curricular materials, programming and assessment on behalf of educational and professional organizations and companies for 15 years. She is the author of numerous books, including mostly recently Strategies & Techniques for Integrating DEI into the Core Law Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to DEI Pedagogy, Course Planning, and Classroom Practice. This new, comprehensive DEI pedagogical how-to, which details teaching methods and provides supplemental materials, is now available to legal academics as a free download from Wolters Kluwer Legal Education.

The JD Concentration in Critical Race & Gender Studies is one of numerous initiatives that support the Law School’s pledge in Summer 2020 to become an actively Antiracist Law School. UIC Law has also developed a pioneering 1L Antiracist Curriculum Project that provides faculty a comprehensive set of materials with which to incorporate antiracist teaching and practice into the first-year curriculum, as well as an Antiracism and Social Justice Fund to support student-faculty research projects. UIC Law formed an Antiracism Coordinating Committee composed of faculty and staff to audit and improve non-academic campus programming and initiatives to fulfill this promise.

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