Friday, October 23, 2009
I presented two different papers at back-to-back law & philosophy workshops/seminars this week, at Columbia (run by Joseph Raz) and at Michigan (run by Scott Hershovitz and Don Herzog). (I don't generally like to discuss the details of academic events on the blog, so suffice it to say that both sessions were very rewarding, and I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss my work with the faculty and students in attendance.) In both cases, students were taking the workshop for credit, and in both cases the students discussed my paper with the instructor the prior week. That seems to be fairly typical in these kinds of workshops, in which outside speakers present work on a particular topic or theme. But at Columbia, after discussing the paper with the students the week before, Raz prepared a set of questions (about 4-5 pages) based on that discussion, which were then sent to me prior to my visit. At Michigan, the students prepared short (3-4 page) "reaction" papers, which were also sent to me prior to the visit. At Chicago, the students typically send the instructor(s) questions based on the speaker's paper, and then the instructor(s) help the students reformulate some of the questions for the session with the speaker.
Are there other approaches to involving students in the discussion and examination of papers by visiting speakers? Do readers, faculty or students, have views about which approaches work best? Signed comments will be strongly preferred, but only comments with at least a valid e-mail address stand any chance of being approved.