Recognizing the opportunity to critically address legal inequities in the traditional core law courses, the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law (UIC Law) launched a 1L Antiracist Curriculum Project in Fall 2021. The project offers UIC Law’s faculty a comprehensive set of materials with which to incorporate antiracist teaching and practice into the first-year curriculum.
Developed by prominent critical-race-and-gender scholar Associate Dean Teri McMurtry-Chubb, the 1L Antiracist Curriculum Project comprises a suite of instructional videos, teacher’s manuals, and supplemental materials that provide a contextual overview for the project and accompanying teaching considerations, as well as specific content modules for the core Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Lawyering Skills I and II, Property, and Torts courses. The project, which reframes key legal concepts taught in the 1L core curriculum through an antiracist lens, is designed to evolve based on engagement from student and faculty participants.
“I designed these materials as an ongoing conversation about the law and legal concepts that debunks our understanding of both as neutral and normative. If we continue to teach American law in a manner that excludes the perspectives of minoritized persons and denies the existence of injustice at its inception, then we cannot hope to equip law students to use it to create an equitable and inclusive society,” offers Associate Dean McMurtry-Chubb.
Associate Dean 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.
UIC Law’s 1L Antiracist Curriculum Project is among 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 new JD Concentration in Critical Race & Gender Studies, the only one of its kind in the nation, as well as an Antiracism and Social Justice Fund to support student-faculty research projects. It formed an Antiracism Coordinating Committee composed of faculty and staff to audit and improve non-academic campus programming and initiatives to fulfill this promise.
In July 2021, UIC John Marshall Law School officially became the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law after the University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved the law faculty’s vote to approve the change. A name change was proposed after a task force, which conducted research and gathered input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, found Chief Justice John Marshall’s role as a slave owner and in pro-slavery jurisprudence in conflict with the Law School’s founding principles.