Law and Social Movements: Race, Place & Climate Change

Join UCI Community Resilience Projects for a seminar on law and social movements.


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What:                                LAW 5681 Law and Social Movements: Race, Place & Climate Change

Who:                                 UCI Law and graduate* students

When:                                Spring Semester 2020 (beginning January 15, 2020); Wednesdays, 3:30 – 5:30 pm

Where:                              UCI Law School, LAW 4750

Course Type:                    2* Unit Seminar; Course Code 84373

                                                                       Instructor:                        Abby Reyes, Director, UCI Community Resilience Projects   

Course Description

Transformative social movements generate shared understanding that the problems of climate change, racism and all social injustice, economic students in the classroominequality, and our challenged democracy are connected. They also view the solutions as intertwined in ways that require strategic navigation. Movement Strategy Center defines strategic navigation as the capacity to generate collective direction and action in complexity and uncertainty. Strategic navigation becomes possible through audacious vision, deep embodiment, and radical connection.

Participants in this seminar will survey and examine the relationships between law and transformative social movements, both the actual collaborations between lawyers and groups of political activists, as well as the work of lawyers as political activists. The seminar brings the frameworks and practices of transformative social movements together with approaches to lawyering that protect, defend, and embolden movements for racial, social, and environmental justice, both here and abroad. The seminar then focuses on living case studies of specific communities across the United States that view themselves as part of a “just transition” to community ownership and deep democracy for climate, racial, economic, and social justice. Seminar participants will gain an understanding of the gaps, challenges, and opportunities for stronger integration of movement organizers and movement lawyers in crafting a just transition.

The Spring 2020 seminar tentatively includes discussions with movement lawyers and organizers working in the areas of immigration, gentrification, solidarity economy, Black food sovereignty, disaster law, climate litigation against carbon majors, defense of water protectors from Native Nations, and climate migration.

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Additional Information

*UCI graduate students from schools other than Law are welcome to apply for enrollment, space permitting. Please note that the Law School semester runs from January 9 – May 8, 2020. This seminar meets weekly from January 15 – April 15, 2020, with final papers due by May 8, 2020. Non-law students are expected to complete the entire seminar and should confer with their home department to clarify how the units will be treated. Follow instructions here regarding non-law student enrollment in law courses.

The seminar draws upon framing, practices, and strategies from multiple sources including, among others, Movement Strategy Center, Emergent Strategy, Movement Generation, and the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program.

About the Instructor

Abby Reyes cut her teeth doing rural environmental legal assistance in the Philippines, her father’s homeland, and walking alongside the Colombian U’wa pueblo for dignity against big oil. She is now director of UCI Community Resilience Projects and trains UC food and climate fellows in transformative leadership statewide. A graduate of Stanford and Berkeley Law, she co-chairs the board of EarthRights International and is a partner in the National Association of Climate Resilience Planners.