UCI Law Faculty Adopts New Race and Indigeneity Curriculum Graduation Requirement


IRVINE, Calif. (April 6, 2021) — In a first for University of California law schools, on March 23, 2021, the University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) faculty voted to adopt a curriculum requirement for graduation that requires all students to complete a graded course which includes substantial content relating to “race and indigeneity, structural inequity, and the historical bases for such inequity.” The faculty also adopted a new first-year elective debuting Spring 2022 that will allow students to meet the race and indigeneity requirement in their first year of law school.

The UCI Law faculty already teach a substantial number of courses devoted to race, indigeneity, and the law that will enable students to meet the requirement. The faculty will also develop new courses, including classes taught by faculty joining for the 2021-22 academic year (announcement forthcoming).

Led by UCI Law’s Curriculum Committee and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, the new graduation requirement supports a larger effort by faculty to integrate considerations of race and indigeneity, particularly in the first-year required courses, but also in required core clinics and other upper-level courses. Students will have pervasive exposure to critical concepts rooted in a range of equity categories, including race and indigeneity, dis/ability, gender and sexuality, socioeconomic background, survivors of family and domestic violence, system-involvement, and veteran status.

Statements Regarding New Race and Indigeneity Curriculum Graduation Requirement

L. Song Richardson, UCI Law Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law said:

“Dismantling centuries of Anti-Blackness and racism will not occur overnight, but we must commit to action and not simply platitudes. For us at UCI Law, change not only begins with asking how we can do better to fight against Anti-Blackness and racism, in all of its manifestations, but also asking how we can use our voices, our power, our scholarship, our teaching, and our influence to make changes in the profession and society.”

Sameer Ashar, UCI Law Associate Dean for Equity Initiatives and Clinical Professor of Law said:

“Our faculty is committed to sustained focus on structural inequities, often mediated by law and legal process. I am gratified that my colleagues have—even before the adoption of this new requirement—taken up issues that are being surfaced by social movements, including the Movement for Black Lives. Our work will continue.”

Sydney Martin, UCI Law 2L and SBA Director of Academic Affairs said:

"Many of my classmates and I came to UCI Law for its innovation and dedication to serving underrepresented communities, and this addition to the curriculum moves beyond performative activism, creating lawyers who will effectively service these communities. The change comes after a student-led push for more diversity-centered curriculum to create a more inclusive and productive learning environment, and I am honored to serve as the student-representative on the Curriculum Committee to help this push forward. UCI Law is one step closer to helping all students feel comfortable in the classroom and gain practical skills prior to their entry into a slowly changing legal profession."

Sadaf Doost, UCI Law 2L and 2L Student Representative for the UCI Law DEI Committee said:

“UCI Law was founded on the premise of prioritizing public service and diversifying the legal profession, and I am grateful to have participated in UCI Law’s efforts to honor just that. By requiring all students learn how Anti-Blackness, racism, and other forms of institutional inequities have long been protected and perpetuated by the legal system, UCI Law is signaling to the legal field that the work of undoing systemic oppression and racism within the legal profession is a responsibility shared by all, irrespective of career practice areas and interests.”

The UCI Law Alumni Association’s DEI Subcommittee said:

“Students and alumni have long advocated to incorporate courses on racism, colonialism and the law into the Law School’s required curriculum. We are pleased that the faculty has adopted this graduation requirement and to see UCI Law continue to lead in transforming legal education.”

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 110,000 hours of pro bono work in the past decade. Forty-six percent of UCI Law’s graduates are students of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni, and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter @ucilaw and on Facebook @UCIrvineLaw.

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