Call for Papers: COVID Care Symposium

Symposium on the COVID Care Crisis and its Implications for Legal Academia

The COVID care crisis and other multiplying effects of related shutdowns, embedded inequalities, and health and safety risks are likely disproportionately impacting people with caregiving responsibilities in academia. The division that separates work from home has collapsed, threatening the very notion of “work-life balance.” Increasingly, employers have begun to reshape what used to be the private domain of family and home through “work at home” or in-person presence requirements that disregard the ways in which care work happens. At the same time, schools and other institutions providing support to families and marginalized groups are temporarily closed, permanently shutting down, or buckling in response to state or local mandates as well as financial and personnel pressures.

In the months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s scholarly output and publications have dropped in various disciplines, while service and care responsibilities that fall disproportionately on junior or marginalized faculty and staff have likely increased. Compounding these pressures, Black faculty and faculty of color more generally have also been coping with the emotional effects of the police killings of George Floyd and others, at the same time that COVID-19’s health effects are concentrating along lines of race and inequality in these communities specifically. All of these factors threaten the output, visibility, status and participation of women and other primary caregiving faculty and staff in legal academia.

Left unaddressed, these disparities also have the potential to alter the landscape of legal academia and further marginalize women and the perspectives they bring to legal scholarship, education, and public dialogue. This symposium seeks to raise awareness of the current COVID care crisis and its impacts on academia, and to begin a dialogue on concrete and innovative responses to this crisis.

Abstract deadline

Abstracts must be submitted to Sarika Laljie by October 30, 2020. The authors of the selected papers will be notified by November 10, 2020.

Essay deadline

Essays for participating speakers are due by December 20, 2020.

Conference date

The conference will take place online on Friday, January 15, 2021.

Topics may include responses to the following:

  • How would losing women’s voices and those of caregivers or other impacted groups more generally impact the landscape of legal thought, public discourse, knowledge production, and the profession more generally?
  • In what ways is the US an outlier globally or among developed countries, as the lack of family leave and other caregiving support in the US intersects with its nearly unparalleled failure amongst developed nations to address the virus and its impacts on society? What are some international responses that we can draw from?
  • How has work been reshaped by the care crisis? What are the expectations and requirements in the new normal?
  • How can we measure, memorialize or quantify the negative impacts of the pandemic and care crisis on knowledge production, promotion, and equality, from educational contexts to careers to public and civic participation?
  • What concrete steps can Promotions and Tenure Committees or campus leadership take to mitigate the impact of the COVID care crisis on faculty and staff at all or any levels? What different strategies might support legal scholarship, clinical practice, academic support, leadership positions, or other roles?
  • What steps can law journals or other platforms for scholarly discourse take to address these impacts or to better support women and caregivers more generally?
  • What strategies can impacted or marginalized faculty implement to survive and possibly thrive in the current environment?
  • How might legal academia address the gender stereotyping and race X gender and other intersectionalities and inequalities that are being exacerbated and further entrenched during the COVID-19 crisis?
  • What opportunities does this crisis present to reshape or re-envision the structure of academia,  or the way that its burdens and benefits are unequally distributed, or to promote racial and gender justice?

Application deadline: October 30

Submit abstract via email