As part of CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Call to Action to end racism and injustice, Dean Lee Fisher developed and is teaching a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary course, Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI).
“This is a moment that demands a clear understanding of racism, injustice, and discrimination and what we can do to fight and eradicate it,” said Dean Fisher. “It is important for us to learn how we got here and how systemic racism is more than individual acts of meanness. We all need to be JEDI practitioners.”
This new course explores the roots of structural racism, examines some of its various manifestations in the U.S. legal system, and examines proposals to eradicate it. A variety of topics will be examined through a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) lens: systemic racism and classism, segregation, implicit bias, the history of slavery, police reform, search and seizure, voting rights, hate crimes, employment discrimination, environmental justice, workplace diversity, health equity and disparities, segregation, housing, civil disobedience, human rights, gender inequity, and LGBTQ rights.
Dean Fisher notes that the subject is too important and too complex to offer just one perspective. As such, this semester’s course will include lectures and discussions with over 20 CSU faculty from the Colleges of Law, Black Studies, Criminology, Communications, History, Health Sciences, Nursing and Urban Studies. Enrollment is open to and encouraged for all CSU undergrad and graduate students.
“Throughout American history, we have seen that the law can be a source of oppression or a force for justice,” said Dean Fisher. “It is up to us to ensure that the power of the law is used for justice. We must use our power as lawyers to speak up when others are silenced. The diversity that racism hates is the diversity that we must embrace.”
Dean Fisher notes that CSU C|M|LAW has educated a long line of guardians of justice in its 123-year history, including inductees in the school’s Hall of Fame such as Jane Edna Hunter ’25, Norman S. Minor ’27, Judge Jean Murrell Capers ’45, Mayor Carl Stokes ’56, Congressman Louis Stokes ’53, and C. Lyonel Jones ’63. By developing additional justice-based educational opportunities such as this course, the law school intends to ensure that it will education the next generations of guardians for justice as well, who will fulfill the school’s motto to “Learn Law. Live Justice.”
Just weeks into the course’s inaugural (online synchronous) offering, enrolled students are already seeing the value in examining JEDI values from a number of perspectives.
“The way each speaker thus far has framed their presentation differently has already helped me see that there is no single way to approach JEDI topics and no single way to incorporate JEDI lessons into my life,” said CSU C|M|LAW 2L student Lucy Richman.
Richman believes JEDI topics are inherently connected to workplace culture and hopes that by learning about the intricacies through this course that she will be leader in making positive contributions to the culture in her future roles.
CSU C|M|LAW 3L Alexis Bovell is finding the course topics hit close to home. As an African American female, the course’s active class discussions offers an opportunity for her and her classmates to share their own real-life experiences of racial inequity, while furthering their understanding of the legal methods to promote social justice.
“In consideration of the current climate we live in, I thought the class was an opportunity to address the interface of law, race, social justice and policy reform,” said Alexis. “I hope to further my knowledge of the various racialized issues we face that are integrated in our political, economic and social culture.”
Based on the initial class session, Alexis feels the course is a great addition to CSU Cleveland-Marshall’s curriculum and hopes that more courses examine law and race can be added to the curriculum in the future.