February 6, 2001

Study to Examine Sex, Family Laws

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Select Cornell graduate students and faculty will have the opportunity to study the legal regulation of gender, sexuality and family in Canada and Northern Ireland, as part of a new grant-funded program.

The anonymous grant of $824,000 was awarded to Martha Albertson Fineman, the Dorothea S. Clarke professor of feminist jurisprudence, to start a three-year exchange program enabling Cornell students and faculty to travel to these countries for weeks or entire semesters.

The program aims “to train and broaden the perspective of current and future faculty” and allow comparative and collaborative research between the visiting and resident professors, Fineman explained.

Visiting professors will also team teach classes with resident professors.

“Through providing an exchange program we can get new ideas,” Fineman said.

She added that the program is focused on incorporating norms of international human rights into domestic law, and is unique in its attention to intimate institutions such as the family.

In addition to faculty exchange, program will also feature summer internships for law students.

They will study human rights and equality norms by interning in organizations in the U.S., Ireland and Canada such as Advocates for Battered Women and the NOW Legal Defense Fund. Two full tuition scholarships are available through the program for law students from Ireland and Canada to attend the Law School.

The two countries were chosen because they are culturally similar to the U.S. , Fineman explained, but also are different in acceptance of non-traditional families and historical philosophy of law regarding human rights, she added.

In addition to sponsoring the exchange program, Fineman is also in charge of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project.

“I started the program in 1984, and brought it here to Cornell with me when I began teaching” said Fineman. The program meets two to three times a year to discuss topics relating to gender and the law.

Topics from the January 2000 workshop included “Inclusion and Exclusion” and “Discrimination and Inequality” among others.

In April 2001, the workshop will include the topics of feminism, corporate law and economic policy. It will focus on the evolving state and the institutions within it, particularly the family and corporations.

Archived article by Kate Cooper