2nd Half Century Junior Scholars Essay Competition

We invited junior scholars around the world with new and innovative ideas to submit them to the LSA Project on the 2nd Half Century. Winning authors presented their ideas at the 50th Anniversary Meeting in Minneapolis MN, May 29-June, 1 2014. The competition was organized by the LSA Project on the 2nd Half-Century, which was created on the eve of LSA’s 50th Anniversary to stimulate discussion about the future role of the Association. We invited junior scholars to submit short essays on the following theme:

What is the future of socio-legal studies, what new possibilities exist, and what innovations should the Law and Society Association consider as it enters the 2nd Half-Century?

Please click on the author's name to view the essay, all are in PDF format.

Winning Essays

Angela Duger
Research Associate,
Harvard School of Public Health (US)
This essay explores how LSA can continue to remain relevant and innovative after its 50th anniversary by expanding the global content and international scope of socio-legal studies and by using innovations to attract students and junior scholars.
Ayako Hirata
Doctoral Candidate,
UC Berkeley (Japan)
Given the transnational aspects of social issues, incorporating international scholarship takes on greater significance. In order to foster the international academic networks and collaborations, this short essay proposes to (1) enrich international opportunities to junior scholars;(2) help researchers keep their academic networks; and (3) provide a venue for encouraging comparative research projects.
Karen Levy
PhD Candidate,
Princeton (US)
The age of big data is upon us. Big data poses a paradigm shift for law and society—both in terms of substantive effects on sociolegal institutions, and possibilities for new types of scholarship. I outline steps for LSA’s critical engagement with big data as we enter the next half‐century.
Mark Massoud
Assistant Professor,
UC Santa Cruz (US)
This essay proposes a set of ideas and innovations for the Law and Society Association and its members in the three key areas that make up our scholarly profession: research, teaching, and service. The next half century will entail maintaining the commitment of the LSA’s founders who envisioned socio-legal studies and the LSA itself as both an area of interdisciplinary inquiry and a movement for justice.
Udi Sommer
Assistant Professor,
Tel Aviv University (Israel)
In its 2nd Half Century, LSA should take advantage of cutting edge technologies to situate itself as a leading organization that breaks new grounds in technology-based scholarly synergy. Capitalizing on modern technology and developing networks would allow LSA to benefit at the micro and macro levels from synchronous and asynchronous research environments.
Tara Weinberg
Centre for Law and Society, Capetown
(South Africa)
With its focus on inequalities, LSA’s 50th anniversary conference is an important moment to reflect on inequalities that exist within academic communities, as well as more broadly. This paper suggests some innovative tools to help LSA strengthen the space for engagement by African scholars in the law and society field.

Honorable Mention

Alyse Bertenthal, PhD Student, UC Irvine (US)
A visual essay demonstrating how innovation can also be an act of invention offering the  possibility of seeing new innovations and the potential of innovative ways of seeing.  (This is a large file, and may take a little more time to load.)

Lynette Chua, Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore (Singapore)
How LSA can build on its efforts to serve an increasingly international membership, better sustain the international conversations already taking place, help to overcome geographically  demarcated research silos

Olakunie Folami, Researcher, Transitional Justice Institute, UK (Nigeria)
LSA should explore transnational legal issues that require global understandings and affect Africa like  LGBT rights, global inequality, gender rights, child rights, terrorism, human trafficking and money laundering.

Toby Susan Goldbach, J.S.D. Candidate, Cornell (Canada)
LSA should entertain the death/rebirth of “law as a tool for social change.” We innovate by examining the artifacts of an instrumental genre of knowledge and by investigating our impulse to invent varieties of normative technologies.

Johanna Jers, PhD Candidate, Umea University (Sweden)
Informal situations are important in becoming a recognized scholar and socializing in networks are important. We have created a regional network for junior scholars which could be a platform for the international future of LSA.

Sandra Levitsky, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan (US)
Let’s return to the study of social policy in socio-legal studies It is an opportunity to expand socio-legal studies, looking more closely at issues like welfare rights in an age of austerity, better understanding relations between law and cultural change, and exploring ways in which social policy influences Americans’ legal and political consciousness.

Genevieve Painter, Doctoral Candidate, UC Berkeley (Canada)
Despite a tradition of scholarship about pressing social problems, Law and Society Association has maintained a curious silence about the Occupy movement. This essay proposes “occupying” our teaching and scholarship and recommends changes to research methods, teaching techniques, and conference practices.