Abolition Practicum

Abolition: A Social Justice Practicum with Bernard E. Harcourt and Omavi Shukur

Fall 2021 | Tuesday 4:20-6:20

The syllabus is available here.

This course will engage, both in theory and in practice, the ambition of racial justice and abolition democracy. It will study the history of race relations in this country. It will seek to chart the road to abolition of the punitive paradigm in the United States. It will investigate what it might mean to imagine abolition in the context of policing, of the prison, and also of punishment more broadly.  And it will do so not only through readings and seminar-style discussion, but with hands on practice in legal cases involving capital punishment, police violence, and protest rights, as well as public policy interventions. 

This course will explore how the country can move from a punitive paradigm to a new paradigm that favors instead education and well-being. It will investigate: (1) how to chart a social justice path toward prison abolition; (2) how to reimagine the criminal legal process so that it is no longer based on a punitive paradigm; and (3) what it would mean to imagine abolition more broadly. 

Each session of the course will focus on one element or theme that permeates the history of racial violence and injustice. Readings will address not only the establishment of these punitive and violent practices, but also pave the way for students to consider how to undo the structures that make them possible and imagine how to build anew.