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Law School News

South Texas Professors Discuss Integrating Diversity into the Classroom

In April 2022, Vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of Law Shelby A. Dickerson Moore and Assistant Professor of Law Ryan H. Nelson gave a presentation to their fellow South Texas College of Law Houston faculty about lessons they learned from reading Integrating Doctrine and Diversity: Inclusion and Equity in the Law School Classroom, a new book that helps law professors integrate diversity into their teaching.

The book discusses innovative ways to welcome students from different backgrounds into the classroom by integrating diversity into law professors’ teaching processes and content selection.

For example, professors discussed how to teach civil procedure by utilizing an in-class simulation where students teamed up as mini “law firms” to represent a fictional Native American tribe seeking recognition from the federal government, an exercise recommended in Integrating Doctrine and Diversity and based on a real case (Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Indian Reservation v. Lujan).

Professors also discussed how they might teach torts and property law by comparing the experiences of John Moore, the white man who famously sued to share in the profits earned from his consensually-harvested cells (Moore v. Regents of the University of California), with Henrietta Lacks, the Black woman whose cells were taken without her consent.

The professors also shared contemporary research and their teaching experiences regarding the utility of syllabus trigger warnings for students from various backgrounds, including students who have served in active warzones and students who have survived sexual assault; “critical” case briefs; using gender-neutral pronouns in legal writing, and offering materials in formats accessible to students with disabilities (e.g., using optical character recognition on files like PDFs so students with a visual impairment can read them via screen reader, providing captions on videos for students with a hearing impairment).

This presentation was a powerful example of South Texas’ faculty’s commitment to the college’s mission, which includes “provid[ing] a diverse body of students with the opportunity to obtain an exceptional legal education.”