Professor Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, will give a public talk entitled “Constitutions as Products” on Wednesday 20 February 2013. The lecture will be held at the Askja building, room 132, University of Iceland at 12:00.

Tom Ginsburg focuses on comparative and international law from an interdisciplinary perspective. He holds BA, JD, and PhD degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. One of his books, Judicial Review in New Democracies (Cambridge University Press 2003) won the C. Herman Pritchett Award from the American Political Science Association for best book on law and courts. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, Kyushu University, Seoul National University, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Trento. He currently co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, an effort funded by the National Science Foundation to gather and analyze the constitutions of all independent nation-states since 1789. Before entering law teaching, he served as a legal adviser at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands, and consulted with numerous international development agencies and foreign governments on legal and constitutional reform.


Summary of Ginsburg‘s Lecture:

Constitutional lawyers tend to study constitutions as sets of legal rules and judicial decisions.  But written constitutions are also products, with different design features:  they can be more or less detailed, innovative, or ambitious; they can be produced in a more or less inclusive manner; and they can have a short-term expiration date or be designed for the long haul. Why do constitutions differ?  Why do some endure while others fail?  Using the tools of social science to study constitutions provides new insight into their origins, contents, and effectiveness.


Ginsburg‘s talk is a follow-up on a lecture series and an international conference, in 2011–2012, on the process of constitution-making, which were sponsored by EDDA – Center of Excellence in cooperation with the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, the French Embassy in Iceland and the Icelandic Ministry of the Interior.