Law & Society: Theoretical Perspectives (graduate)

This graduate seminar provides a survey of research and theoretical perspectives in the law and society tradition. Because students may not have had prior exposure to this research, the readings cover a wide range of substantive topics and approaches, providing students with the breadth required for future research and reading in the area. These readings are not designed to develop a set of specific information about law – ie., in 13 weeks, the goal is not to learn "13 things about law" (or even 26 things) – but to develop a grounding in some of the core perspectives from which research can be pursued. This course requires a significant amount of reading. The readings chosen are contemporary to provide a sense of current research, and include domestic, international, criminological, and more broadly sociolegal, topics. Rather than focusing exclusively on law’s empirical effectiveness, we often focus on research that takes law as the product of claims to authority and expertise. As a result, much of the seminar will focus on the production of law, the ubiquitous place of law and its relationship to other social institutions, and the often competing processes through which law comes to "know." To achieve these goals, the readings focus on the production and evolution of law, legal decision-making, the constitutive ways in which law shapes everyday life, law and globalization, law as a professional project, and legal knowledge as the product of (often competing) claims to authority and expertise.

Global Violence (Munk School of Global Affairs, co-taught with Todd Foglesong)

This graduate level course investigates institutional, professional, and policy responses to different kinds of violence in a range of settings rather than the causes or origins of "global violence." The course assays the separation of the study of policy and violence in academic and legal analyses. The course combines readings from social science, journalism, courtrooms, and government and non-government reports. Three questions inspire the selection of readings. What are the politics, achievements and constraints of national and international institutions that seek to govern global violence? What ideas dominate the conceptual frameworks within which these institutions operate, and how distinct are their alternatives, including truth commissions and other forums of national or international inquiry? How might local and global organizations respond differently to problems of violence in the future? ​

Justice Reform in Global Context: Commensuration and Commiseration (Munk School of Global Affairs, co-taught with Todd Foglesong)

This graduate level course investigates the politics of justice reform in global context in two ways: first, by examining the ideas and indicators of justice that are commonly used by local and national governments, civil society organizations, and international institutions to try to “govern” operations in justice; second, by inducing some unlikely comparisons of measures, problems, and purported improvements to justice across a range of big cities. The course is a problem-solving practicum: students will work in teams and propose solutions to problems in the measurement and management of some malady that afflicts at least two cities in the world and which at least two different international organizations are trying to fix. By the end of the course, students will be able to measure and evaluate justice or safety policies in a global context, independently appraising the value of goals and targets in schemes for global governance. ​

International Criminal Justice: Legal and Social Aspects (Department of Sociology)

This undergraduate course focuses on international criminal justice, including the legal and social aspects for responding to war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. This will include understanding the legal thinking that is the core of international criminal law, and the social dynamics that seek to explain these crimes and the role that law can play in responding to atrocities. Readings will include legal cases from current and past international criminal tribunals, as well as social science research articles that provide insight into the social dynamics of these crimes, and the value of legal approaches to responding to atrocities. By combining legal and social perspectives, this course will provide students with both legal and sociological tools for understanding how we have come to respond to the worst atrocities and wartime violence over the 20th and 21st centuries. ​

Global Justice and Law (Munk School of Global Affairs)

This graduate level course investigates the rise of accountability models for massive human rights violations and atrocities in and after conflict, as an approach to global justice. This is referred to as a "justice cascade," at times within a framework of transitional justice. The course combines legal, social science, and conceptual readings, while tracking the development of a largely prosecution-based global justice approach from 1945 to the present. We learn about the scope of forums and institutions - international and national - and their politics, their achievements and their constraints. We consider some alternatives to criminal accountability, including venues such as truth commissions or foreign policy alternatives. This course draws on theory as well as policy.

Introduction to Criminal Law & Procedure

This undergraduate course provides students with a grounding in Canadian criminal law and criminal procedure. The course will explore central concepts in substantive criminal law, including basic principles of liability and the operation of defences, as well as critiques and proposed reforms. We will then turn to the criminal process, during which we will focus on the role of different state actors and institutions, the role of law in regulating their activities, and studies of their function in administering and enforcing the criminal law. The focus of the course will be on understanding the principles that govern criminal law and its administration. In addition to reading primary legal materials, students will engage with research and analytical perspectives on the origins, goals, functioning, and limits of criminal law and procedure.

International Criminal Law

This undergraduate course is an introduction to international criminal law, and to the various institutions that have been developed for responding to state violence and war crimes. The course will begin by covering the relationship between international criminal law, human rights law, and humanitarian law, with an emphasis on defining the purpose and objectives of international criminal law. The course will examine the historical origins of international criminal law and of institutions designed to adjudicate state violence and war crimes: this will include readings on the emergence of international criminal tribunals and prosecutions, but also readings on other legal models such as political amnesties, national trials, and truth commissions. Much of the course will then focus on international criminal prosecutions, with an emphasis on the legal bases for these prosecutions, the social organization of this field of law, and the development of substantive international criminal law (including the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity). Readings will include legal judgments and trial transcripts from current and past international criminal tribunals, as well as social science research articles that provide insight into how this legal field is structured, comparisons between different legal responses to war crimes, the relative efficacy of different legal institutions, and the symbolic value that different legal approaches might offer for victims and for states. Because of the nature of the topic, readings will provide students with some background on a range of war crimes and related forms of state violence, while generally focusing on the legal and institutional responses that have been developed to adjudicate and document atrocities.

Genocide Reading Group (Munk School of Global Affairs)

The Genocide Reading Group (GRG) aims to foster intellectual conversation and provide academic training for Masters-level students on the topic of genocide. The Group is affiliated with the Global Justice Lab which draws together research in law, social science and diplomacy to study the growth and effects of global justice institutions. A key part of this research is a focus on the growth of accountability models for political violence committed by state and non-state actors, atrocities committed in war, and massive human rights violations. The GRG explores these issues within the broader topic of genocide through in-depth engagement with foundational literature and weekly conversations among Masters-level students. ​

Ways to reach me!

View Ron Levi's profile on LinkedIn

View my profile

Send me an email