William E. Conklin, Professor of Law


Teaching Leadership

1. The Founders Seminar. Shortly after joining Windsor Law, Bill established a weekly law faculty seminar called ‘the Founders Seminar’. Taking the term from Plato who described the founders as establishing a just republic, one law faculty member would introduce an idea from her/his teaching and a dialogue would then ensue about the idea.

2. Cross disciplinary reading group. Also shortly after joining Windsor Law, Bill established a cross-disciplinary reading group focussing upon recently translated and published French and German texts. The group, drawn from sociology, French literature, English Literature, History, Psychology, philosophy and law, impacted upon the content of lectures and interests of the participants throughout the campus, including the institutionalisation of the Humanities Research Centre according to the Arts Dean at the time..

3. Theoria. Also shortly after joining Windsor Law, Bill organised a Law faculty seminar which he called Theoria. See Appendix. Bill attracted leading and cutting-edge scholars from diverse disciplines to lead the seminar. The seminars, about 6 to 10 each year, impacted the content of law teaching which the traditional ‘rules and tests’ approach to law had previously offered.

4. Flowers, a dialogue in two acts. Bill authored, acted and directed a reading performance of his play to Constitutonal Law classes over 11 years. Eventually incorporating 9 law student-actors, the content of the play changed each year to accord with the themes of his Constitutional Law classes. The play functioned as an original method of learning for the 12 reading performances at Windsor Law between February 1987 until 1999. Bill’s insights into issues concerning instructor-student relations extended nationally with a reading performance at the 1987 Canadian Law and Society Conference, 3 June 1987, McMaster University and then internationally at the Study Camp of the Critical Legal Studies Conference, Sunday, May 24th, 1987, Opinicon Lodge, Chaffey's Locks, Ontario. The themes of the final Act were then extended internationally by its publication as “The Trap” in Law and Critique 13 (2002): 1-28).

5. New Courses. Bill’s leadership has been demonstrated by 15 new courses for the curriculum at Windsor Law. Of the 15 new courses, 5 became permanent courses in the Law curriculum for many years and one, with the aid of two colleagues, has become a required course in the new LlM program.

6. Cross-disciplinary Teaching. In tune with the cross-disciplinary rhetoric of senior officials at the time, Bill taught 7 undergraduate Philosophy courses (Political Philosophy, Ethics: the Good Life, Ethics: Right and Wrong Conduct, Law and Morality, Philosophy of Law and Punishment, Law and Post-structuralism, and Legal Philosophy of Hegel) during the 1980s and ‘90s. He has also taught the Legal Philosophy course in the MA program of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.