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Making Research Impactful: Cases Studies From the Clashes Over LGBT Rights and Religious Freedom

When: Thursday, May 19, 2022, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Where: Online, Ms Teams

Speaker: Prof Robin Fretwell Wilson

Early career scholars and more experienced academics want their academic research to have an impact on the world beyond the university. But how is that to be done? Professor Wilson will share her decade and half of experience in achieving just that. From assisting policymakers to ban gay conversion therapy to assisting lawmakers and citizens to secure better protections for patient safety and patient dignity in teaching hospitals, Professor Wilson has, in a method she refers to as "translational law", actively sought opportunities to translate her scholarship into palpable changes in the law.

In this workshop she will focus on lessons for balancing the desire for impact with the need to do scholarship. She will describe models for engagement in policy and legal change and challenges that may be encountered. This workshop will principally draw on experiences in meshing LGBT rights with protections for religious belief and practice, or what Professor Wilson calls Civil Right Complementarity. It will draw on concrete examples, including Professor Wilson’s experience in assisting Utah to enact its landmark legislation protecting the full LGBT community from discrimination in housing and hiring, while ensuring that religious communities and persons of faith may adhere to their faith tenets around marriage without fear of legal repercussion.  

About the speaker

Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson is an IHSS Distinguished Visiting Fellow and Fulbright Specialist on Civil Rights Complementarity. She is the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs for the University of Illinois System, of which the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a part, as well as the Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law at the University of Illinois College Of Law. Professor Wilson co-directs the College of Law’s Epstein Health Law and Policy Program and co-directs and founded its Family Law and Policy Program. She specializes in family law and health law, and her research and teaching interests also include biomedical ethics, law and religion, children and violence, and law and science.

Professor Wilson has worked extensively on behalf of state law reform efforts. A member of the American Law Institute, Professor Wilson has four times been honoured for her work with lawmakers on innovative laws that address thorny questions. In 2007, she received the Citizen’s Legislative Award for her work on changing Virginia’s informed consent law. In 2018, Professor Wilson received the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award from the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, which is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies the spirit of religious liberty for all and who has contributed in significant ways to the defence of religious freedom in the public square. In 2020, Professor Wilson received the 2020 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Advocacy for LGBTQ Affairs, a university-wide recognition given by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2022, the Utah Senate honoured Professor Wilson for her continuing work on blending civil rights for all people.

This is an internal Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Early Career Research (ECRs) Network Workshop.


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