The Pandemic Syllabus


A syllabus is a contract, an introduction, a statement of values, a todo list, a plan. It is often the point of first contact between professor and student, or between student and an area of law. Beyond the technological challenges, for many professors Fall 2020 was also the first-time coming up with a camera policy or amending attendance expectations to consider a pandemic. For some, this is also the first time explicitly engaging in antiracist pedagogy in the classroom or considering practices like trauma informed teaching. This essay offers a practical, “nuts and bolts” walkthrough of promising practices for each part of the syllabus while also touching on complex pedagogical questions such as issues of accessibility, setting a cooperative tone for class, and preparing students for sometimes challenging discussions. This essay is not only about the transition to online teaching, but more broadly about shifts within legal education that only promise to become more relevant. The essay is a practical and helpful guide for those planning future semesters, even in a post-pandemic world.

Schendel, Sarah, The Pandemic Syllabus (October 27, 2020). Denver Law Review Forum (Forthcoming 2020),

Full paper available at SSRN.

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