Championed by co-chairs Emily Broad Leib (Harvard Law Food Law and Policy Clinic) and Susan Schneider (University of Arkansas), the Academy of Food Law and Policy (AFLP) seeks to create a foundation for the long-term stability of food law as an academic discipline. Now in its second year, AFLP connects legal faculty from across the globe to support food law as a discipline in the legal academy.
On October 5th, 2018, AFLP hosted its inaugural conference at Harvard Law School. The conference welcomed over 40 attendees and featured a series of workshops, moderator-led discussion groups, and a lunchtime panel led by AFLP past and current Board Members. The conference connected the Food Law and Policy community and highlighted parameters of the field through group-driven discussion of scholarship, teaching, and growth of the AFLP.
As an attendee of the event, it was refreshing to be among peers and mentors in the food law space. The scholars gathered to critique and labor over each other’s writing, in hopes of contributing meaningfully to academic discourse. Academy members are relentless in their pursuit of gaining recognition and influence of their field, and this came through in their support of fellow writers in the field. The conference’s workshops helped authors develop their positions and find new angles and new resources. It was an exercise without hierarchy and without judgment. And most importantly, improved the research and writing of authors contributing to the food law academy.
The most profound element of the conference was the lack of hierarchy mentioned above. At the conference, some AFLP members were adjuncts, teaching in undergraduate programs, clinical professors, or other non-traditional academic roles for the doctrinal legal academy. Other members were tenured faculty and even a law school dean. But at the convening these traditional academic barriers were broken down; all scholars were learning from one another. Additionally, one of the most common suggestions for the future of the academy was to break down these barriers even further. AFLP members wanted to include more inclusive of non-traditional legal researchers, namely the activist community.
The AFLP conference was energizing and exciting. In time, AFLP may even be a model for inclusive academic engagement. The conference was the first step in the future of not just the food academy, but the entire legal academy.
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