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University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL


International Society of Family Law North American Regional Conference

Family as the Crucible of Culture and Society: Inequality, Vulnerability, and Justice within the Family

Thursday & Friday, June 13-14, 2019

University of Illinois Discovery Partners Institute | Chicago, IL

This conference takes place at an important cultural moment in which the status of women in the United States and elsewhere are getting renewed attention. We stand at the cusp of the 40th anniversary of CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and we are nearing the 50th anniversary of the International Society of Family Law.

This conference will focus on revisiting and reimagining the status of women and vulnerable persons in the family, the setting that often shapes our lives more than any other. This conference will consciously straddle empirical research on the family, innovative thinking about family law policy, and efforts at engaged policy making. In particular, the Family Law and Policy Program will provide scholarships to policy makers who will participate in rich engaged conversations.

This is an exciting time to explore recent innovations in the regulation of families that may promote human flourishing and child welfare, including Illinois’ recent innovations on alimony, the Uniform Law Commission’s recent proposals for parentage, the ongoing discussions about support for nonmarital families, and the question of what the inclusion of LBGT families has meant for human flourishing. 

The conference theme is intended to be inclusive, extending to both public and private law, doctrinal and clinical family law approaches, and those from the social sciences. International and comparative approaches are strongly encouraged but not required. Participants will be welcome to propose panels or individual presentations.  Participants may participate into multiple formats.

This conference will have a number of innovations:

  • Co-Creative Conversations on policy in which we collect thoughtful voices on a specific topic. These may be organized around a “What if…”. For example what if . . . support for families was not defined by conjugality, or we meaningfully rewarded child care in the family, or we were to approach alimony in innovative ways, or we assigned parentage in entirely new ways?  Participants can propose a “What if…” topic and names of participants.  We may also loosely arrange participants on topics.

  • Conversations with the Author Roundtables may also be proposed for books published in the last three years.  Authors may suggest pre-packaged panels of speakers about the book.

  • Public Engagement Workshops on topics such as what needs to be done to connect yourself as a scholar to lawmakers, how to interact with international bodies, or how to pursue public engagement on the family.  These workshops will describe what scholars need to do to connect themselves to lawmakers, how to connect themselves to organizations like international public policy bodies like CEDAW, and other ways to make one’s work relevant to policy makers.

The panels will involve organic discussions led by a strong moderator and organized by themes as described above.

Presentations can be in Spanish, French or English but the conference will not be able to provide translators.

Proposals to participate in the conference should be sent to Robin Fretwell Wilson at wils@illinois.edu, no later than Monday, April 15, 2019. The proposals should include the participant’s name, affiliation, indication of whether the proposal is for an individual presentation, panel, co-creative conversation, workshop or Author Meets Reader roundtable, and abstract describing the content of the proposal. If the proposal is for a panel or roundtable, it should include the name and affiliation of all of the proposed participants. Abstracts should not exceed a single page for each presentation. Accepted paper presenters will be notified by Wednesday, May 1. Proposals may be submitted at any time. Please indicate if you need an earlier acceptance date in order to arrange travel or funding. 

Co-Conveners: Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, University of Illinois, Director of the Family Law and Policy Program, and Professor Margaret Brinig, University of Notre Dame

Scientific committee: Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Bar-Ilan University; Margaret J. Brinig, University of Notre Dame; Robin Fretwell Wilson, University of Illinois