Law, College of


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Hendricks, Burkstrand-Reid and Carbone in Legal Studies Research Paper Series (April 2011) #145. Copyright 2011, University of Tennessee Knoxville, College of Law. Used by permission.


At the 2009 Future of Family Law Education conference at the William Mitchell School of Law, the authors participated in a panel discussing strategies for teaching controversial topics, which focused on teaching reproductive rights and related gender issues. This essay collects some of the strategies discussed at the conference. First we address what constitutes a “controversial” legal topic, outlining the several different ways in which a topic might be or become controversial within the context of a particular class. Next, we discuss the importance of laying the groundwork, throughout the semester, for the anticipated—and unanticipated— discussions surrounding controversial topics and techniques for laying that groundwork. Finally, we outline specific classroom techniques and resources to aid professors at the time controversial topics in the classroom are confronted.

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