Brief abstracts of conference sessions will be listed here once the final program has been confirmed.

Title: The Critical and Practical Role of Democracy Education in the Justice Education Project

Lead Presenter: Roy, Denise


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Session Abstract: In this session, two law teachers—one from the U.S. and the other from Indonesia—will lead a discussion exploring the relationship between democracy education and justice education from a multi-cultural perspective. U.S. lawyers purport to promote democracy in various ways, such as through rule-of-law projects in emerging democracies. Emerging democracies turn to the U.S. in efforts to strengthen democracy and combat corruption. U.S. lawyers also purport to promote democracy through their work representing clients in their paid and pro bono work, such as in civil rights and election law cases. Yet lawyers, in the U.S. and worldwide, are generally not well educated about the nature and meaning of democracy, including the relationship of democracy to the more familiar concepts of law and justice. (When “lawyer” is used in this summary to refer to persons working in countries other than the U.S., it is meant to include all the law-trained professionals representing clients, for instance pengacara and konsultan in Indonesia.) Moreover, lawyers are not generally trained to bring democratic principles to bear in their work, including their work forming and maintaining relationships with clients. That is because the widely exported version of U.S. democracy education focuses on strengthening rule of law. This focus misses another important, and possibly conflicting, aspect of democracy education, and that is the importance of democracy education to justice education. This session will start from the premise that that justice is not the end of law (although certainly law can and should be used as a tool of justice), that law and justice are at some level inherently in conflict, and that therefore democracy is critical to the just conception and application of law as well as the just representation of clients, including individuals, communities, and organizations of all kinds. Organizationally, the session will lay a foundation for considering the relationship between justice education and democracy education by fostering a discussion of participants’ understanding of those concepts. It will then seek to test the hypothesis that a commitment to democracy education is essential to effective justice education, especially in multi-cultural settings, by exploring participants’ experiences. Finally, the discussion will also address practical lessons that participants can use on the ground. It will provide and elicit concrete examples of how democracy education supports teaching justice and promoting social justice, considering both justice and democracy from a cross-cultural perspective. It will also provide and elicit concrete ideas for how just democracy learning can be applied in law practice and legal education.

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