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2019 Distinguished Teaching Award: Professor Andrea Roth, Law


– So the first time I taught
criminal law at Berkeley, somebody came in the first week and said, “Why do we even have a
criminal justice system? “Why don’t we just treat it all “through a public health model?” So from then on, I actually started my criminal law class with
that very question. – Like you get one bite of the apple. – But Berkeley students are
this unique combination of being analytically
gifted, very hardworking, but also questioning everything. They take nothing for granted. It makes it challenging in the classroom because every premise is
potentially questionable. Murder is the unlawful
causing of a death of a human. I teach criminal law,
criminal procedure, evidence. I deal with the subject where we’re talking a lot about human tragedy. Things like racism and
classism and sexism, and I try to acknowledge
them from the beginning. I try to make sure that they
understand that questions about those uncomfortable
topics are part of the doctrine. They’re not separate from the doctrines. Justice is a slippery concept. These problems that we’re
talking about in class are huge, and if they’re gonna be solved, prosecutors and defense
attorneys, let’s say, are gonna have to work
together to solve them. – She does just a really good job of both being an amazing
professor and teaching us the substantive material
that we need to be effective in the courtroom, but also
bringing her practical experience and wisdom to her lectures. – When students see that
I think of every single one of them as being
part of this conversation and part of the solution,
it promotes inclusivity and lets us start from a position where you assume that the other person is acting in good faith, and is trying to engage in intellectual discourse, and come up with the solutions to problems that we all want to solve. – I think as a woman, I see her confident in herself,
projecting her voice, speaking with authority,
and that reminds me that one day when I’m an attorney, I can have that same
confidence and that same zeal. – When you’re making your students feel comfortable and confident,
that’s what’s gonna create a space where
everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspective,
sharing their thoughts. – Seeing how she feels about students, how she greatly values our input, and deeply cares about our future, and what we go out and do after we graduate, has been one of the most
inspiring things to me. – In one of the things
that I try to impart to students is you make the law, and so what I try to do in the classroom with law students is
not just to teach them the substance of the law, but to see that if they see something
that they don’t like, they have the power to change it. We have a dedication to social mobility. We have a dedication to need-based aid. We have a dedication to using
our privilege as lawyers to help the community,
and at the end of the day, if you don’t like what you see, there’s no one else who’s
going to change it but you. And you’re at Berkeley,
you’re at this iconic place that has this tradition
of questioning things, and doing something about it, and so it is your obligation
as a Berkeley student, to go out there and change things.

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