1 Project Overview

Frontier Torts 2013

Frontier Torts 2013

Project Overview

Each fall since 2012, a group of 80 first-year Harvard Law students in Section 6 have participated in an group project in their torts class. The project requires students to research, discuss, and write about a current policy problem for which tort law (or some form of civil liability) might provide a partial solution.

Based on the students’ rankings, policy problems are selected and students are assigned to work on one of those policy problems (a total of three per semester) in groups of roughly 27 students.  Thus far, policy problems have included the following:

  1. Football Concussions (2012)
  2. Native American Alcoholism (2012)
  3. Bullying (2012)
  4. Predatory Lending (2013)
  5. Gun Violence (2013)
  6. Gambling Addiction (2013)
  7. Police Use of Excessive Force (2014)
  8. For-Profit Colleges (2014)
  9. Solitary Confinement (2014)

Each policy group was further divided into the following eleven specialty groups consisting of 2-3 students each, according to the students’ rankings:

  1. Project Steering Committee
  2. Tort Doctrinalists
  3. Historians
  4. External Situationists – or Contextualists
  5. Internal Situationists – or Mind Scientists
  6. Economists
  7. Policy Wonks
  8. Public Choice Experts
  9. Media Analysts
  10. Storytellers
  11. Presentation Committee

The name and role of each specialty group was purposefully vague, and the role and could vary based on the nature of the policy issue itself and the interests and particular focus of students working in the given specialty group.

Each policy group drafted a white paper and gave a presentation to the class about their policy problem and possible solutions to that problem. Experts working on each issue visited the class to speak about the topic and their work. At the conclusion of the class presentations, each group led a class discussion and a class vote to select the best policy options. Those presentations, the discussion, and the vote are then all incorporated into the final version of the white papers.

We are pleased to make available on this website the products of that process: the white papers; videos of discussions and presentations; and the PowerPoint slides used in the student presentations.  We believe these items may be of value to individuals with an interest in those topics or an interest in an exciting new approach to legal pedagogy.