Extending public law: digital engagement, education and academic identity

Castan, Melissa, and Galloway, Kate (2015) Extending public law: digital engagement, education and academic identity. Legal Education Review, 25 (2). 4. pp. 331-348.

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In Australian legal education, 'public law' is understood as an umbrella concept, covering both constitutional and administrative law subjects. More expansively, public law is understood as the analysis and evaluation of the state structures of power and control between governments and their people, and between governments, at both the formal and substantive levels. Thus 'public law' readily accommodates topics such as statutory construction, human rights, state sovereignty, electoral law, legal philosophy, and the rule of law. While increasingly observation is made of the weakening of the traditional distinction between public and private law, that is probably a discussion best ventilated elsewhere. For current purposes, the traditional distinction is a useful point of departure for a more expansive view of public law and public law teaching – an idea that we seek to develop here.

The expansive view aligns with the broader conceptualisation of the law curriculum ushered in by the Discipline Standards for Law, while retaining the law's doctrinal integrity. The practice of public law education in this mold requires a more critical and authentic approach, giving scope for student engagement in the broader contexts of law. Together these approaches represent a more contemporary and potentially enlivened public law curriculum. The question is how this might be achieved in a way that cohesively invokes the elements of academic practice.

In this article we explore the dimensions of digitally-mediated, collaborative, academic practice in public law. We are interested in the way in which the pursuit of education in public law reflects the domains of academic practice. Notably, integral to our understanding of teaching is broader community engagement and promotion of an educated citizenry', conscious of the operation of power within the structures of the state. We therefore focus on the extent to which we engage diverse audiences: colleagues in the academy and the profession, our students and the general public. As communicators of law we reflect on our methods of communication through the prism of digital literacies as a means both of modelling effective use of digital media and exploring its meaning and potential in learning public law. This article is part of a wider series that aims to advance discussion about the utility of social media as a democratizing form of communication of scholarly work. Accordingly, this article offers a collaborative auto-ethnographic account, explicitly exposing how the authors have embraced social media as an extension of scholarly work in the public law domain.

Item ID: 42371
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1839-3713
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Issue 2: "Special Issue - Teaching Public Law"

Date Deposited: 09 May 2016 01:05
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