The weekly colloquium series ran from September 9 to November 18, 2020. A closing session was held on March 10, 2021.
For years, public health experts have been warning of a global pandemic so contagious that it would lead to massive devastation. Few nations across the globe heeded these warnings and every community now has to address both the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of policies shutting down most economic, social, and community activities. Law is both a tool to address these consequences and a domain experiencing serious effects, as law offices and courts shut down or moved to remote services. This colloquium series brought members of the Harvard Law School community together to explore and assess, through discussions with various faculty experts each week, the legal responses to COVID-19 across areas of law ranging from laws governing health and health care, including drug development, public health, contact tracing and privacy; regulation of labor, safety, finance and debt, immigration; protection of basic human needs such as housing and food; and the scope and limitations of governmental powers operating in a pandemic. Each session examined the particular impacts of the pandemic on law, courts, prisons, elections, and the legal profession, and opportunities for innovation and reform. More than 40 faculty members shared their insights and questions about the changes that are possible as localities, states, the U.S., and other nations continue to mobilize responses. With a particular focus on U.S. law and an emphasis on the urgent needs of marginalized populations, low-income and unemployed Americans, and people of color, the series covered themes including individual rights vs. public safety, governance, polarization and disinformation, and inequalities. More topics emerged over time, such as the role of human invasion of animal habitats in transmission of diseases, environmental impacts and environmental policy related to COVID-19, and discussions of what COVID-19 has shown us about resilience generally and within the legal community. Although the formal sessions are over, the blogging will continue for the next several months.
All sessions were attended live by hundreds of members of the Harvard community. Recordings are now available for broader public viewing both on this site and on the Harvard Law School YouTube channel HERE.
Agenda: Further details about each session, including topics, dates, times and moderator and panelist information can be found here.
Topics: For further readings and resources on each topic, please consult the “Topics” drop-down menu above.
Student Engagement: The COVID and the Law blog has migrated to Bill of Health, the blog of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Harvard Law students and faculty alike are welcome to continue writing posts in response to the topics discussed in the series. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Chloe Reichel ([email protected]).
NOTE: The opinions expressed in each unit, blog post, and other materials linked herein represent only the views of the speaker or author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Harvard Law School or Harvard University. NO INFORMATION INCLUDED IN THE VIDEO OR ON THE BLOG CAN BE TAKEN AS LEGAL ADVICE.