The Faculty of Law is Committed to Diversity
“The Faculty of Law at Stockholm University is committed to diversity among lawyers – and now that commitment is going to be even more visible than before” says Faculty Dean, Professor Jonas Ebbesson.
In the autumn of 2013 the Faculty of Law was the first faculty at Stockholm University to adopt an Equality and Non-discrimination Action Plan, stating that “the Faculty’s operations shall be marked by diversity, openness and tolerance” and the Faculty shall “promote diversity among its staff and students in the areas of ethnicity, socio-economic background, religion or other belief system, gender, transgender identity or manifestation, sexual orientation, disability, age, etc.” A similar action plan was adopted last autumn by the Department of Law.
By broadening our recruitment base we promote diversity. This is fully in line with the Higher Education Act’s requirement that higher education institutions promote and expand their recruitment base.
Jonas Ebbesson sees several other good reasons to focus on diversity:
“Lawyers are overrepresented in society’s various power spheres and it is important that the legal profession mirrors society. To achieve that, we need diversity among our law students as well. The Department of Law is not permitted to introduce admissions quotas for underrepresented groups, and I do not think that would be the best way of doing things. Rather, we should endeavour to encourage individuals from underrepresented groups and communities to apply for admission to the Law Programme through various targeted efforts.”
One such targeted effort is the Diversity Project. Since 2006, the Diversity Project has been conducted under the aegis of the Department of Law, but it is the law students who do the hands-on work. Among other things, the project reaches out with information to gymnasiums (where it makes well-received visits) and assists newly enrolled law students with study techniques.
“As I see it there are several important reasons to broaden our recruitment base. First, there is what we might call the civic argument: the Law Programme shall be equally accessible for everyone with equally adequate academic capacity. To achieve this, information about professional careers and education needs to reach societal groups who are presently underrepresented. Second, diversity strengthens law’s legitimacy and people’s trust in the legal system. Individuals with backgrounds in diverse societal groups need to feel included and that they can take part in the formation and application of law. That is quite a challenge in a society marked by great diversity. Third, society profits - also economically - by making use of diverse experiences and backgrounds in a globalised world; this applies to areas as diverse as legal advice in family matters and international commercial transactions.”
“When I discussed our work on diversity with a colleague, he reminded me that Stockholm University had been founded with the express purpose of being an open and accessible institution of higher learning, a university for citizens. That is a legacy we wish to preserve.”
May 2, 2014
Page editor: Staffan Westerlund