Representative Projects Supported by the Fund

New Challenges for a Free Press

Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment
Professor Balkin requested funding for "New Challenges for a Free Press," a two-day conference bringing together academics from different disciplines; authors, journalists, media and businesspeople; policy-makers, representatives from the tech industry; and practicing lawyers to explore the role of the press in our democratic society, and the challenges it currently faces.  The conference aimed to discuss strategies for ensuring press freedoms and securing the necessary funding for the production of journalism, especially local journalism; to develop scholarship on the provision and protection of journalism in the digital public sphere and the role of technology in media; and to respond to student interest in law, technology, and philosophy programming, especially as it relates to freedom of the press.

Supreme Court Alternatives

Sam Moyn, Henry Luce Professor of Jurisprudence
Professor Moyn requested support for a virtual, on-line symposium on "Supreme Court Alternatives: Judicial Reform Options, Institutional Legitimacy, and the Survival of Democracy.”  The symposium offered a lively debate among scholars and judicial reform advocates who support a range of reform options.

COVID and the Law

Abbe Gluck, Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law
Professor Gluck requested funding to support a new course, offer a conference in the form of a series of workshops in collaboration with Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics, and produce a major publication on COVID and the Law.Scholars on topics ranging from healthcare, to prisons, to election law, to racial justice, to the economy will speak and write on intersections of the law with COVID.  They will present to a new seminar, “COVID: Law, Economics, Governance”, and they will also present at a virtual conference – which will occur via a series of zoom workshops.  The papers will form chapters in a new book, which will be the first-ever collaboration between the Harvard Petrie-Flom Center and the Solomon Center.

Lift Every Voice

Gerald Torres, Professor of Law
Professor Torres sought funding to host a one-day symposium that will highlight the contributions of YLS alumna (1974) and Harvard Law Professor (Emerita) Lani Guinier, a trailblazer civil rights theorist and champion who has amplified the voices of people as drivers of change and authors of legal meaning in this moment of reckoning on matters of race in America.  The symposium will provide the YLS community, former students, collaborators, and colleagues of Professor Guinier the opportunity to engage with her scholarly work and set a forward-looking agenda for scholarship, practice, and pedagogy.

Suspected Child Maltreatment

Ian Ayres, Oscar M. Ruebhausen Professor of Law
Professor Ayres’ project will involve the design and implementation of a survey looking at the implicit biases in child maltreatment reporting.  He plans to conduct a vignette experiment to study whether people’s decisions to report suspected child maltreatment are affected by implicit racial and/or gender biases.  Participants will be randomly sorted into two separate experimental conditions: the Mandatory Reporter condition and the Permissive Reporter condition.  Each survey respondent will be shown ten different vignettes depicting possible child abuse or neglect and must decide, on a Likert scale, how likely they are to report the parent involved in each vignette.  Professor Ayres hopes to publish the results of his study and the accompanying article in a law review.

The Science of Wellbeing

Yair Listokin, Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law
Professor Listokin’s Student Well-Being Study will determine whether participation in an online course, The Science of Well-Being: 8 Keys to Achieving Satisfaction & Success in Law School, can help mitigate disproportionately high levels of mental health and substance use issues among law students and enhance law student wellness.  Research indicates that law students experience high rates of mental illness and substance abuse.  While the rate of psychological distress in incoming law students is similar to the general population, negative symptoms increase dramatically during the first year of law school and continue to increase throughout law school and into practice.  This study can help mitigate these issues and enhance law student wellness.

Use of AI in Adjucation

Taisu Zhang, Professor of Law
Professor Zhang’s project employs survey experiments to measure likely social responses to the Chinese judiciary’s current attempts to conduct criminal sentencing and some civil adjudication via Artificial Intelligence computer programs.  It also conducts a corresponding survey in the United States to illustrate some theoretically significant differences in sociolegal culture.  Professor Zhang expects that his findings will be published in a top-tier peer reviewed law journal.  He also expects to be in contact with Chinese judicial policymakers about his results.

Seeking Solitary

Judith Resnik, Professor of Law
About two decades ago, Professor Resnik and the Liman Center started working with the national organization of all the directors of state and federal prison systems in the United States to understand the policies governing solitary confinement and the people held in such isolation.  Since 2013, they have published a series of long reports providing the only nationwide, longitudinal data in the United States on what correctional officials call “restrictive housing” – in which a person is held inside a cell for an average of 22 hours or more per day for fifteen days or more.  Professor Resnik requested funding to make the data visible, readily accessible, and usable in a way that the several volumes of fine print do not currently permit.

Enrichment Courses 2021-22

Along with our standard curriculum, every year the Law School offers a number of “enrichment courses.” These courses are usually taught by visitors, and often reflect the changing interests of our students or new developments in law or policy. These courses are very much in keeping with the goals of the Ruebhausen fund to “maintain, increase and assure intellectual vitality, creativity and analytical rigor at the Yale Law School.”
See list of courses.