The Graduate Students in Law Association (GSLEDD) hosted its 6th annual graduate student conference on May 11-12, 2017. Under the moniker “Law at the Tipping Point: Conflicts, Challenges and Changes,” the conference brought together graduate students from across Canada to examine pressing legal issues across a variety of fields.
The conference featured nine thought-provoking panels which explored current “tipping points” in environmental law, Indigenous law, constitutional law, trade and investment, fundamental rights, women’s rights, intellectual property, the regulation of technologies, and the organization of society. “Considering the number of international and national events that have taken place in the last month,” says GSLEDD co-president Laura Garcia, “we liked the idea of having a conference about the various issues that have the traditional legal institutions ‘at the tipping point’”.
In an effort to encourage constructive feedback, each participant in the conference was assigned a paper of one of her or his fellow participants in advance of the conference. Participants were then asked to constructively comment on the work and pose relevant questions during presentations, ultimately promoting an environment of interactive and mutual learning. This exercise also allowed participants to engage with research that in some cases was very different from their own. “It was really gratifying to receive abstract applications from students from various universities around North America,” says Ms. Garcia. “The variety of backgrounds, academic traditions, and topics made the conference more dynamic.”
The conference also featured a keynote presentation by Nomi Claire Lazar, an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs who spoke about problems at the intersections of law, power and rhetoric. “The aim of the conference was to analyze and explore how various sociopolitical, and technological events are pushing the boundaries of current legal institutions,” says Ms. Garcia. “Keeping in mind that this topic required looking outside of legal institutions, Professor Lazar was a perfect match. She addressed some of her research on states of emergency, her personal experience in the academia and useful tips on how to do research.”
The conference was ultimately a complete success, carrying on a strong tradition of exceptional graduate student conferences at the Faculty of Law, and paving the way for future success. Congratulations to GSLEDD and the organizing committee!