Burgos, Spain

Introduction to Legal Methods for a Society in Transition

online course
when 14 July 2022 - 15 July 2022
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1 EC

Current societal, technological and environmental challenges as well as research policies are pushing the academic boundaries and requiring interdisciplinarity. Differently from other fields, where the structure of papers and articles is standardized (State of the art, Objectives, Methodology, Discussion, Conclusions), publications in legal sciences traditionally do not display a methodological section. This does not mean that law scholars do not follow research methods: on the contrary, each legal discipline has developed its theories and methods. However, the discussion on the method is not systematically included in legal papers, and it is not infrequent to find studies where the adopted methodology is not explicitly stated, but rather is implied. This puts early career researchers in legal studies under stress for several reasons. Firstly, the lack of a sound awareness of legal methodology impairs the ability of the researcher to develop a sound argument. Second, when confronted with other disciplines that adopt an explicit approach theory, data collection and analysis, it can impair her/his ability to effectively work in interdisciplinary environments.

When observing external phenomena which claim for a bold change in perspective to be comprehended and addressed, unveiling the implicit methodology is necessary to assess the disciplinary boundaries and subsequently be able to test the viability of the approach and eventually innovate it. The Anthropocene and the digital revolution are the two principal sources of this requirement, and attempts by scholars to challenge the disciplinary assumptions of law are ongoing.

In social sciences, the methodology can attain both the theory driving the research journey, and the material way data are collected and analysed. The first influences the other: the theory in which the study is grounded informs the choice of data and the means to select them. A critical reflection on legal research methodologies is therefore crucial, either for embracing the traditional one with more awareness or for embarking on innovative ones (innovatives for legal studies, not always for other social sciences) knowing which is the departure point.

Course leader

Teresa Rodríguez-Cachón, Lecturer in Civil Law. University of Burgos (Spain)
Margherita Brunori, Lecturer in Food and Agriculture Law. University of Brescia (Italy)

Target group

The summer school welcomes all those who are interested in:
• increasing awareness in methodology for legal research,
• exploring different legal methods,
• learning from colleagues who already adopt different legal methods in their research projects,
• creating networks with scholars willing to engage in the subject.

As the class has an introductory cut, the programme is suitable for all postgraduate students, early career researchers and scholars at any level who are interested in attending.

The summer school is also open to non-academic public working in, among others, legal publishing houses, public administrations, research centers, nongovernmental organizations and managers of public and private research projects.

Course aim

This summer school aims to offer a broad perspective on the history of legal theory and argumentation forming the legal method, its current strands, as well as its more radical and innovative approaches. For each approach, both the theory and its data collection process will be addressed. Outstanding early-career international scholars will bring their experience to the online sessions to answer the following questions:

a) What is legal research methodology? What kind of questions are legal questions? What is the role of legal argumentation?
b) What is the main current legal methodology? What are its limits, critics, and challenges?
c) How are innovative research projects of excellence conceptualizing legal research methodology? How to mix legal theory and social science empirical research methods in a research project?

Each session will offer both a theoretic and a practical part. In the first, lecturer will introduce the method providing background of the theory and rationale, and in the second will provide context and example on how to practically use the method.

Fee info

EUR 0: Master students and Ph.D. candidates in legal studies: free tuition (under proof of condition)
EUR 35: General public