Wednesdays: January 10 – April 11, 2018

6 to 8 p.m.
West Village F, Room 20

Free and Open to the Public


Political regimes gain legitimacy when they observe the Rule of Law; leaders of liberal democracies often boast about their adherence to the Rule of Law.  The Rule of Law is “much invoked, but inadequately defined.” Like most “essentially contested concepts,” the Rule of Law means many things to many people, but at its core it involves all members of a political community being subject to the same (well defined) laws and standards and an independent judiciary.  However, we define it as much by its breach as by its adherence.

The World Justice Project suggests that the Rule of Law includes four necessary principles:

  1. Accountability: The government as well as members of the public and private actors are accountable under the law.
  2. Just Laws: The laws are clear, publicized, stable and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and at least some human rights.
  3. Open Government: The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
  4. Accessible & Impartial Dispute Resolution: Justice is delivered in a timely manner by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

In the Spring 2018 Open Classroom, we will explore the definition of the Rule of Law, what it requires, what happens in its absence, and how it has declined and emerged globally. We will also explore some of the tensions between the Rule of Law and Democratic Governance, focusing on the Rule of Law in time of polarization and technological upheaval (as in the United States but also abroad).

The Spring 2018 Myra Kraft Open Classroom is co-sponsored by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Northeastern’s School of Law.

Spring 2018 Schedule

10What is the Rule of Law? Is it Real or is Law Just Politics?-Ted Landsmark, Distinguished Professor, Public Policy and Urban Affairs; Director, Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Northeastern University

-Wendy Parmet, George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law, Northeastern University

-Jeremy Paul, Dean and Professor of Law, Northeastern University

-Dan Urman, Director of Hybrid & Online Programs, Northeastern School of Law
17Judicial Review: Anti-Democratic or Essential to Democracy-Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard University
24What Happens When there is no Rule of Law? Historical Examples: Symptoms, Effects, Rule of Law Under Authoritarian Regimes
-Jeffrey Burds, Associate Professor of History, Northeastern University

-Margaret Woo, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Interdisciplinary Education, Northeastern University
31Rule of Law: Challenges Posed by Economic Inequality & Stagnation-Barry Bluestone, Russell B. and Andree B. Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy, Northeastern University

-Robert Kuttner, Co-Founder and Co-Editor, The American Prospect
(Special meeting on Monday this week.)
Political Violence and Threats to the Rule of Law/The Lessons of 1968-Rick Perlstein, Author of “Nixonland”
14Partisanship, the Appointment of Judges, and Judicial Independence as a Core Feature of Rule of Law-Peter Bennett, Member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary

-Fernande RV Duffly, retired Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Visiting Professor, Northeastern University School of Law
21Access to Justice & the Rule of Law-Chief Justice Ralph Gants, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

-Stephen Subrin, Professor of Law Emeritus, Northeastern University

-Jacquelynne J. Bowman, Executive Director, Greater Boston Legal Services
28Voting Rights and the Rule of Law-Michael Morley, Assistant Professor of Law, Barry University

-Pam Wilmot, Executive Director, Common Cause Massachusetts

-William Mayer, Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University

-Miles Rapoport, Senior Fellow, Harvard Ash Center
14Free Speech/Academic Freedom and the Rule of Law-Carol Rose, Executive Director, ACLU Massachusetts
21 - Canceled What is Truth?/Role of the Media and Facts and the Rule of Law-David Shribman, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist; Executive Editor, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

-Laurel Leff, Associate Professor of Journalism, Northeastern University
28Market-based & technological threats to the rule of law-Andrew Perlman, Dean and Professor of Law, Suffolk University

-Andrea Matwyshyn, Professor of Law, Northeastern University
4Black Lives Matter: Race-Based Policing as a Threat to the Rule of Law-Chiraag Bains, former Federal Prosecutor and Senior Official, Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; Author, Ferguson Report

-Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
11Rule of Law: How to Keep It-Michael Klarman, Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
25What is Truth?/Role of the Media and Facts and the Rule of Law-David Shribman, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist; Executive Editor, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

-Laurel Leff, Associate Professor of Journalism, Northeastern University

Course Credit

Undergraduate students: PPUA 4225 and PPUA 4226

Graduate students: PPUA 7225 and PPUA 7226