Prof. Sébastien Jodoin supports and advances a dynamic view of legal education that recognizes the value of participatory, experiential, and problem-oriented learning. His teaching is also student-centered, enabling students to develop the skills, passions, and interests that will help them thrive in their lives and careers. His vision of education is informed by the traits that define scholarship of the highest order: rigour, originality, collaboration, modesty, creativity, risk-taking, problem-solving, and multi-disciplinarity.
Undergraduate Legal Education
Sébastien’s approach to undergraduate legal education is centered on four principal aims and related outcomes. First, law students should be given the opportunity to develop their capacities for self-learning, creative problem-solving, and critical thinking. At the end of a course, students should have strengthened their ability to learn, think, and work autonomously in a new area of law, and have developed their capacity for reflecting on both ethical and theoretical implications as well as practical and professional issues.
Second, law students should be offered opportunities for dialogue, exchange, and collaboration with their peers. At the end of a course, students should have improved their ability to engage in dynamic intellectual debates with others, as well as enhanced their capacity to collaborate with others on specific projects and initiatives.
Third, students should be provided with the skills and knowledge that they will require to engage with the doctrinal aspects of law, as well as to situate legal practices within their social, political, and economic context. Crucially, engaging with the broader context in which law is practiced is not only of interest for scholarly reasons, but is also critical for their development as aspiring jurists. At the end of a course, students should have further developed the ability to understand and resolve legal problems through a variety of perspectives and tools.
Fourth, the use of diversified didactic methods is critical for ensuring that students who learn in different ways are all able to flourish. The concept of individualized instruction thus calls for the use of a variety of course formats, assignments, and technological aids that reflect and engage with the full range of the abilities, interests, and pace of learning of each student.
The approach to teaching that is outlined above implies a number of decisions about course design and associated teaching methods:
Lecturing Style: Lectures held before large groups should serve to facilitate learning rather than communicating content. In line with the concept of a “flipped” classroom, students should be provided with notes, readings, and other materials that communicate content that they must master before the class, so that they can focus on dialogue, collaboration, and practical exercises during class time.
Course Content: Core courses should provide students with the doctrinal knowledge to understand a given area of law, while also emphasizing that area’s relationship to other social, economic, cultural, and institutional factors. More advanced courses should provide students with an opportunity to delve into the practical or theoretical problems that they will encounter as jurists, scholars or citizens in a given field.
Assignments: Assignments should not be seen as a way of assessing whether learning outcomes have been met, but as a form of experiential learning. Assessments should be designed in a way that relates to the practice of law and the pursuit of justice and that can build the professional and personal skills of students, emphasizing group work and collaboration. At the same time, students interested in deepening their knowledge of a given topic should also be given the option of writing an academic paper.
Graduate Legal Education
Sébastien’s approach to graduate legal education is largely inspired by the practices that are characteristic of the best social and natural science departments in North America, particularly their commitment to structuring graduate training as an apprenticeship in research. Through the Law, Governance & Sustainability Lab, Sébastien seeks to foster a collaborative research environment for students interested in research on law, governance, and sustainability. In particular, the Lab initiates and supports research projects with or among the student members of this laboratory. The Lab also holds regular meetings with students to maintain a productive and dynamic research culture. In addition, Sébastien encourages graduate students to acquire training in and experience with empirical research design and methods.