ANNOUNCEMENT: Drexel Summer Theory Institute 2010

Drexel Summer Theory Institute

About the Institute

The Drexel Summer Theory Institute is a new initiative for 2010 for Drexel students with public interest law internships in the greater Philadelphia area. The Institute is modeled on a similar program established by two public interest lawyers, Nisha Agarwal and Jocelyn Simonson, for Harvard law students with public interest internships in New York City. Institute Fellows will meet with the facilitators one evening a week to discuss works of social and critical theory as they relate to the Fellows’ public interest work. Although the conveners will seek to tailor the readings to the interests of the group, some examples of the kinds of thinkers we might engage with include Michel Foucault, F.A. Hayek, bell hooks, Martha Nussbaum, and Pierre Bourdieu.

The Summer Theory Institute will involve a significant but not overwhelming commitment on the part of the Fellows. The Fellows will be asked to attend all ten evening sessions, prepare for each meeting ahead of time, write short response papers to the readings, participate in the discussions, and lead one week’s discussion. If feasible, we may also arrange a joint session or event towards the end of the summer in New York with our counterparts from the Harvard program.

The goal of the Institute is to provide a space in which students can think critically about and reflect more deeply upon their everyday experiences practicing public interest law, using social theory as a lens through which to do so. Working together to think through the role that social theory can play in legal practice and activism allows the Fellows to engage more meaningfully with their organizations’ methods of pursuing justice on a day-to-day basis. By creating the space to discuss larger theoretical concepts outside of the work environment, the Institute enhances the Fellows’ senses of the potential for intellectual rigor and personal fulfillment in public interest work. The Institute also aims to foster a community of leaders who will bring their enthusiasm for pursuing social change through the law back to the Drexel community at the end of the summer.

How to Apply

If you are a 1L or 2L interested in becoming a Fellow in the Drexel Summer Theory Institute, please submit a statement of interest by April 26, 2010. Statements of interest should be emailed to dsti2010 [at] kalhan-dot-com. In your statement of interest, please explain:

1) Your anticipated internship plans for the summer;
2) Your interest in the Summer Theory Institute.

No prior experience with social or critical theory is necessary to participate. Instead, we are looking for a group of Fellows who are excited about public interest work and open to thinking in innovative and sometimes critical ways about that work. Fellows must be located in the Philadelphia area for the full ten weeks of the Institute.

About the Conveners

The 2010 Drexel Summer Theory Institute will be convened and facilitated by Umbreen Bhatti, Anil Kalhan, and Blair Thompson ’11.

Umbreen Bhatti is the Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, where she conducts litigation and non-litigation advocacy on a broad range of civil liberties issues, including free speech, religious liberty, racial justice, privacy, students’ rights, prisoners’ rights, and police misconduct. Umbreen is the Delaware State Bar Association’s Roxana C. Arsht Fellow, a Fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, and a member of the board of Public Allies Delaware. Prior to joining the ACLU, Umbreen was an associate in the Washington, DC office of Latham & Watkins, LLP.

Anil Kalhan is an Associate Professor of Law at Drexel University, where he has taught immigration law, criminal law, First Amendment, and comparative constitutional law. He is an affiliated faculty member at the South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania and serves on the board of directors of the South Asian Bar Association of New York, the council of advisors for South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He previously has worked at Cleary Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, where he served as co-coordinator of the firm’s immigration and international human rights pro bono practice group, and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Blair Thompson is a second-year law student at Drexel University. Since starting law school, she has been an intern at the Juvenile Division of the Public Defender in Baltimore, the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, and a co-op student at Philadelphia Legal Assistance. Before law school, Blair taught in Hong Kong and in Cape Town, South Africa, where she implemented a program in high schools involving group discussion of classical texts. She graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland where she studied philosophy and the history of math and science.


Questions may be directed to the conveners at dsti2010 [at] kalhan-dot-com.