The INTPART-project LawTransform: Effects of Rights and Law aims to develop innovative research-based teaching on the role of law in social change. With support from the project, the LawTransform PhD course ?Effects of Lawfare? is now a regular course offered by the University of Bergen annually. The human and financial resources made available through the INTPART grant has enabled us to steadily improve the course and to develop it into a model that can be used more broadly. By harvesting experiences, we could build on the successful innovations from last year to provide an improved digital and hybrid course this year, while also offering: i) structured and tailored mentoring sessions with leading researchers in their fields - several of the students discussed their research with researchers based with INTPART partners; and ii) in-depth methods sessions.
The LawTransform PhD course hosted twelve students (six in 2018 and in 2019) from the partner institutions in Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States. It also allowed for three research stays, with one researcher from South Africa and one from India coming to Norway, and a researcher from Norway going to the US. Further, it brought senior researchers from the organizations for two consecutive years. They stayed in Bergen for about two weeks and intensely participated in the course activities and in project workshops. Not only INTPART-funded students benefited from this, but also the approximately 40 other students who came from several international and Norwegian institutions to participate in an increasingly known and well-regarded course.
The LawTransform PhD course consists of closed and public sessions. In the closed sessions, students are offered excellent lectures by leading researchers in the relevant fields. They also have ?meet the author? sessions, where they prepare by reading a paper to be discussed with its author(s). In the public sessions, corresponding to the Bergen Exchanges, around thirty events bring together researchers and students, local and from all over the globe, to exchange their research findings, build networks and make plans for new and/or further collaboration in an inspiring and collaborative platform.
The PhD students were often on stage to present their work and to discuss with more experienced researchers. In the closing panel of the Bergen Exchanges, the INTPART-funded students share their experiences from the PhD course in a stimulating session on how to further develop the course and get the most out of the INTPART experience. The improvements of the course seen in recent years are based on feedback from the students and the audience at these seminars.
The greatest downside of this year, like last year, was the fact that we were not able to welcome international students and researchers from partner institutions in Bergen due to the coronavirus pandemic. On the other hand, the success of our entirely digital course last year and the expertise we gained allowed us to accept several students from partner institutions to participate in the course this year. Also, the significant competence we have gained in organizing online events has made it possible for us to produce valuable teaching material on several topics, which are available at the centre?s website. We have also become better in online project workshops and made sure LawTransform projects advance as much as possible considering restrictions imposed by the current global situation.
In the spring semester of 2021, we offered a fully digital MA course in ?The law & politics of climate change governance? at the Department of Comparative Politics.
With the gradual reopening of Norway, we aim to facilitate new research stays? opportunities, in Bergen and abroad, and we already plan to receive in Bergen a guest researcher from one of our partner institutions in Brazil for a longer period in 2022.
The INTPART-project has allowed us to submit several applications of both research and research-based education projects. Some of them did not receive funding, but were very well evaluated and will be submitted again (Amazoning climate governance; Health system inequalities in the context of Covid 19; and Autocratic Legalism). Some of this project?s publications are connected to the projects for which we applied funding. Among the successful applications were: ?Pluriland: Theorizing Conflict and Contestation in Plural Land Rights Regimes? (FRIPRO 2020-2024) and Rethinking Democracy & Law (Diku). In January 2022 LawTransform will start a new project funded by INTPART: ?Autocratization Dynamics: Innovations in Research-Embedded Learning?, which builds on our current project combining both current and new partner institutions in Brazil, Canada, India, Norway, South Africa and United States.
The aim of this grant application is to strengthen the University of Bergen/LawTransform as a leading centre for research and education on law and social change. It will do so by forging long-term partnerships with internationally leading socio-legal research and -educational institutions and serving as a global hub for exchanges and collaboration on research projects and teaching.
Our partners are all outstanding research and higher education institutions from Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States, with complementary expertise a common vision. The partnerships will contribute to the advancement of research and education of the highest quality by
(i) developing new research projects deepening our efforts to develop better tools for understanding the role of law and courts in the social production of (in)equality and the use of rights and law as policy tools and strategies for social change
(ii) build on this to provide innovative and relevant interdisciplinary research-based education, including online- and field based courses, and joint virtual MA and PhD programs
University of Bergen has the potential to become a world leader in this field. Since LawTransform was established (August 2014) it has built an extensive base of international research projects, merging and developing academic networks; it has established a successful PhD course on 'Effects of Lawfare', now in its third edition; and organised a wide range of seminars and events, including the 'Bergen Exchanges on Law & Social Transformation', an annual week packed with public seminars and workshops related to ongoing research at the centre. This has become a stimulating meeting place for scholars, students, as well as practitioners (judges, policy-makers, activists). The Bergen Exchanges, with its extensive academic and social program is - along with the joint research project and the online platform (webpage, Facebook, Twitter,Vimeo) - key to building a cohesive international network.