Antiracist Development Institute
In 2020, the cascade of murders of Black and Brown individuals and the Black Lives Matter protests demonstrated the prevalence of systemic, structural, and institutional racism. Structural racism permeates our democratic institutions, including legal education and the legal profession. Penn State Dickinson Law created the Antiracist Development Institute (ADI) to dismantle structures that scaffold systemic racial inequality using a systems design approach for the purpose of achieving systemic equity and offering organizations across the country systems design-based approaches to implementing antiracist practices, processes, and policies throughout each of their functions.
This interdisciplinary approach to legal education provides law students and lawyers the critical thinking skills that accompany introspection about the role of legal education and the legal profession in creating, interpreting, and counseling of laws that have scaffolded structural racism in American society in contravention of the fundamental value of equality vis-à-vis equal liberty, equal justice, equal citizenship, equal rights, and equal protection of the laws.
The ADI builds on The Association of American Law Schools Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project concepts and information presented throughout the “Building an Antiracist Law School, Legal Academy, and Legal Profession” book series to provide law schools and other institutions with a blueprint that will be workshopped through the stages of systems design. The ADI has been piloting course material since the fall of 2022 and subsequent iterations of course content will be made available to institutions and organizations outside of the legal community thereafter.
The ADI is led by an accomplished team of experts including Penn State Dickinson Law Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law Danielle M. Conway, Professor of Law and Harvey A. Feldman Distinguished Faculty Scholar Dermot Groome, and Program Manager TaWanda H. Stallworth.
“Building an Antiracist Law School, Legal Academy, and Legal Profession” is distinct in its use of a systems design approach combined with Antiracist principles to transform law schools from edifices of systemic inequity into sustainable democratic institutions whose platform is built upon principles of systemic equity. It is unique for its admixture of systems design, organizational theory and practice, and Antiracist theory and practice. The book series is the precursor from which the ADI will use series content to develop course materials.
Over 120 colleagues from the legal academy, legal profession, and adjacent organizations are contributing to the book series as chapter contributors, editors, content reviewers, and workshop facilitators, representing 76 institutions across the country.
Systems designers are essential to the success of this project. They guide the writing of each volume in accordance with training in design-thinking that they have received. The systems design approach to the writing of each volume relies on critically examining law schools by their constituent parts — or, more aptly, their functions — to identify embedded inequities. Once embedded inequities are revealed within a function, the next step is to deploy a systems design rubric to transform one or more functions of the organization. Systems design for law is defined as a hands-on, user focused way to relentlessly innovate, empathize, and humanize with others to solve problems or resolve issues. Systems design is fundamentally user-centered, experimental, responsive, intentional, and tolerant of failure.
Learn About The “Building an Antiracist Law School, Legal Academy, and Legal Profession” Book Series
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