by Ruth Dapper
The School of Law’s mission states the school’s desire to equip students to search for truth through morality and social justice. The Holloran Center’s latest class, Ethical Leadership in Social Justice, highlights the school’s mission by encouraging students to develop the insight and courage necessary to further social justice issues. To teach the course, the Holloran Center’s Prof. Hank Shea is again teaming up with Judge Mimi Wright of the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The two-credit course, which will debut in Spring 2011, is the third Ethical Leadership themed course developed by the Center. The other two, Ethical Leadership in Corporate Governance and Ethical Leadership in Litigation, have been offered seven and three times, respectively.
Students who enroll in Ethical Leadership in Social Justice will learn under the tutelage of two top legal professionals. Judge Wright is no stranger to St. Thomas and the Holloran Center. As an adjunct professor she co-taught the Ethical Leadership in Litigation course with Prof. Shea in Spring 2008. Additionally, she served as the Law School’s commencement speaker in 2006 and as a panelist during the Holloran Center’s Spring 2010 diversity lecture, “What Diversity Can Teach Us About the Changing Relationship Between Companies and Law Firms.” Judge Wright’s passion for social justice issues is apparent through her service as a consultant to International Bridges to Justice in Geneva, Switzerland and her former work as a litigator, where she primarily represented school districts in an effort to improve public school students’ educational opportunities. Prof. Shea, a former federal prosecutor for 20 years, has taught several courses at St. Thomas—Ethical Leadership in Litigation, Crime & Punishment, and the Mentor Externship course. Shea also spearheads the Holloran Center’s Lessons Learned program, which features convicted white collar offenders and explores the causes and consequences of the offenders’ actions.
Ethical Leadership in Social Justice will feature a wide range of topics in relation to social justice, including education, domestic violence, disabilities, the environment, immigration, and international criminal law. The class will place a particular emphasis on how attorneys can discern their role as advocates for social justice and use their skill set to further equality in society. Class time will be largely used for discussion, as well as to host speakers who are prominent in the social justice arena so that students will be able to see how the principles being taught are applied by professionals. Much of the coursework for students is based on reflection journals, but students will also have the opportunity to write both a personal credo and vision statement identifying their ethical principles and goals, and will end the semester with a group presentation on a relevant social justice topic.
As social justice issues are highlighted through recent news events and court rulings, the Holloran Center is keeping pace by building another Ethical Leadership course that encourages the moral development of law students at St. Thomas. By ensuring an open discussion of moral and ethical issues, the Center is, indeed, living the mission by equipping students with the tools and self-knowledge to search for Truth.
Ruth Dapper is currently a second year law student at the University of St. Thomas and a research assistant for the Holloran Center.