COVID Care Crisis Symposium

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.

Symposium Schedule

Thursday, January 14 (11am–5:30pm ET)

11amOpening and welcome

Shruti Rana, Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies
11:15amI. Theorizing Power and Ethics in the Pandemic

Jamie Abrams, University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law
Cancelling Kingsfield?: A Pedagogical Tipping Point Caught in a Pandemic Paradox

Lolita Buckner-Inniss, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Toward a Principled Ethical Egoism: Unpaid Caretaking and Black Women Legal Academics

Stephanie Moore, Indiana University Kelley School of Business
The Foundational Care Crisis

Etienne C. Toussaint, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
How to Survive a Pandemic: An Elegy to America
12:20pmII. A Global Pandemic: International Perspectives on the Effects of COVID

Stella Burch Elias, University of Iowa College of Law
Crossing Boundaries and Borders During a Global Pandemic

Kishor Dere, Jawaharlal Nehru University
COVID-19 Crisis: An Opportunity for Teaching and Learning

Natasha Weir, La Trobe University
Women Legal Scholars Disrupting the Rational Person: The Gendered Politics of Care in the Longest Lockdown
1:25pmPlenary Session: COVID Care Crisis and its Implications for Academia
An interdisciplinary group of scholars will share their latest data and findings on the impact of the COVID Care Crisis at all levels of academia, including students, staff, and faculty, and share promising strategies for change

Melissa Murray, NYU School of Law

Jessica Calarco, Indiana University Department of Sociology

Tina Cheuk, California Polytechnic State University School of Education

Meera E. Deo, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Law School Survey of Student Engagement

Anne Joseph O'Connell, Stanford Law School

The Plenary Session is part of the Hamilton Lugar School's speaker series on Race, Gender & Power in Global Affairs
2:30pmIII. Challenges for Aspiring Faculty

Liz Bodamer, Indiana University Department of Sociology
La Carga: My Story of How I Did Not End Up in Legal Academia

Alisha Kirchoff, Indiana University Department of Sociology
A Lost Year

Sandra Veronica Portocarrero, Columbia University Department of Sociology
Practicing What They Preach? Documenting Organizational Support for Graduate Student Mothers of Color During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Katyayani Suhrud, Jindal Global University
Archiving the Pandemic: What It Has Meant To Chronicle What We Wish To Forget
3:35pmIV. Teaching and Learning During the COVID Care Crisis

Hironao Kaneko, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Disabled Workers amid COVID-19

Matthew Marin, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School
Car keys. Check. Wallet. Check. Cell phone. Check. Face mask. Check. Hand sanitizer. Check.

Michele Okoh, Duke University School of Law (with Ines Ndonko Nnoko)
The Need for Social Support from Law Schools during the Era of Social Distancing

Gabriela Holguin Sotelo, University of Dallas at North Texas College of Law
Re-Inventing Work and Life During the Pandemic*
4:45pmOpen forum (separate registration required)

Share your thoughts on the COVID Care Crisis and your experiences and reflect on the day.

Friday, January 15 (11am–4:30pm ET)

11amOpening and recap

Shruti Rana, Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies
11:15amI. Theorizing the Material Effects of the Pandemic

Tonya Brito, University of Wisconsin Law School and K.T. Albiston, UC Berkeley School of Law
Academic Worker Inequalities and Flexibility Bias in the COVID-19 Era

Lua Kamal Yuille, University of Kansas School of Law
“I had ideas during the pandemic too!”

Saru Matambanadzo, Tulane University School of Law
The Political Economy of Care and Crisis

Goldburn P. Maynard, Indiana University Kelley School of Business 
A Clean Well-Lighted Place for the Existential Black Scholar
12:20pmII. Erasing Boundaries Between Home and Work

Teneille R. Brown, University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences
How the Myth of Superhuman Faculty is Actually Dehumanizing

Mathilde Cohen, University of Connecticut School of Law
Lactation and Its Visibility During the Pandemic*

Allie Robbins, City University of New York School of Law
Everything I Know About Teaching Was Reinforced By Attending Kindergarten Remotely

Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Boston University School of Law
When Children Become Co-Workers
1:25pmIII. Addressing the Challenges of Student-Intensive Academic Work During a Lockdown

Hadar Aviram, University of California Hastings College of the Law
The Center Cannot Hold: Zoom as a Potemkin Village

Shobha Mahadev, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Desperate Times: How Students Can Be Fierce Advocates for Incarcerated Clients During a Pandemic

Sarah J. Schendel, Suffolk University Law School
Life Admin When Life Turns Upside Down: A Book Review (of sorts) (co-author Dyane O’Leary, Suffolk University Law School)

Rachel H. Smith, St. John’s University School of Law
Pink-Collar Pedagogy in a Pandemic
2:30pmIV. The Role of Administration and the Structures of Academia

Nadia Ahmad, Barry University School of Law
Dreading COVID and Loathing Academia

Lanette Garza, Trinity University
Research, Solutions, Implementation: The work of the Child and Dependent Care Committee (with Jennifer Rowe and Aspen Gonzalez, Trinity University)

Veronica C. Gonzales-Zamora, University of New Mexico School of Law
Super-Moms are Struggling: The Consequences of Social Isolation for Women Faculty

Taleed El-Sabawi, Elon University School of Law
The Double-Edged Sword of Diversity Initiatives
3:35pmSynthesis & Next Steps (separate registration required)

Cyra Akila Choudhury, Florida International University
Meera E. Deo, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Shruti Rana, Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School

Symposium topics

Topics proposed in the call for papers 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?

Conference conveners

Cyra Akila Choudhury

Professor of Law, Florida International University

Email Prof. Choudhury

Meera E. Deo

Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Email Prof. Deo

Shruti Rana

Assistant Dean for Curricular and Undergraduate Affairs; Diversity Officer; Director, International Law & Institutions Program

Email Dean Rana