2015 Teaching Workshop

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UNSW Faculty of Law
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW and the Public Law and Policy Research Unit, University of Adelaide
Thu, 2015-02-12

Public Law in the Classroom

On Thursday 12 February 2015, the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW and the Public Law and Policy Research Unit, University of Adelaide, hosted the ‘Public Law in the Classroom’ workshop. This was the first in what will become an annual event on public law teaching research and practice. Seventy-five public law teachers attended the event from over thirty law schools across Australia. The event also attracted participants from New Zealand, the UK, USA, India and Pakistan.



 Participants take their seats

The workshop program was designed to maximise discussion between participants across three sessions.The first session was curriculum-focussed. Professor Graeme Orr (UQ) spoke on the challenges of ‘Content, Context and Coherence’ in teaching public law. Dr Sarah Murray (UWA) looked at teaching ‘Breadth and Depth’ in public law content. The presentations kicked off a rich discussion of how to articulate what public law is, and the themes that tie it together.



Professor Graeme Orr (UQ), Dr Sarah Murray (UWA) and Professor George Williams (UNSW), presenters and chair at the first session on content and curriculum.

After lunch, the second session moved onto tools and techniques, and Melissa Castan (Monash) introduced us to ‘The Role of Social Media in Opening our Horizons’. The discussion turned to experiences, rewards and challenges of using twitter, blogs and other online tools with students both in and outside the classroom.

The next session was a poster session. Thirteen posters were presented on topics ranging from flipping classrooms to using role play, digital flashcards, student peer-review and feminist legal judgments in public law teaching. (Links to some of the posters are provided below). Participants spent an hour discussing the posters over a well-deserved cup of tea.



Workshop participants share ideas during the poster session.

The final session at this year’s event looked at the role of tertiary public law teachers and students in engaging secondary legal studies students. We heard from Professor Melissa Hart from the University of Colorado, who has been responsible for introducing the ‘Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project’ into Colorado’s disadvantaged schools. Through the project, she supervises law students to teach constitutional law into secondary schools. The session also included presentations from Keith Thomas (Legal Studies Association, NSW) and Dr Nicola McGarrity-White (UNSW) on the opportunities from greater tertiary and secondary student/teacher engagement in Australia.

Throughout the day, participants discussed and debated public law teaching curriculum and pedagogical techniques in person and online using the #publawteach hashtag. This Twitter conversation has now been captured on Storify, one of the tools discussed in the second session:

We have been delighted to have already received positive feedback on the workshop, and are looking forward to hosting the next event in 2016. In the meantime, many of the posters from the workshop are available below as PDFs, and we hope that the conversations that started will continue, in person, and online through the #publawteach hashtag.

A special issue of Legal Education Review ((Volume 25, No 2) was dedicated to the Teaching of Public Law. It contains papers presented at the Inaugural Public Law in the Classroom workshop in 2015.


Associate Professor Gabrielle Appleby
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW Law

Associate Professor Sean Brennan
Director, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW Law

Associate Professor Alexander Reilly,
Director, Public Law and Policy Research Unit, University of Adelaide

(Workshop Organisers)


Links to Posters/Papers:

Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, University of Queensland

Dr Gabrielle Appleby and Matthew Stubbs, UNSW/University of Adelaide

Ms Narelle Bedford, UNSW/Bond University

Professor Rosalind Dixon, UNSW

Ms Jackie Hartley and Dr Paul Kildea, UNSW

Ms Katherine Lindsay, University of Newcastle: Poster, Handout

Ms Sue Milne, University of South Australia

Dr Manuel Jose Oyson, Central Queensland University

Charlotte Steer, Charles Sturt University

Dr Tamara Tulich, Universit of Western Australia

Mr Adam Webster, University of Adelaide