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Is liberalism dead? And if so, is inequality to blame?

3 December 2018
5:30pm - 7:00pm
Law Theatre
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ariel photograph of high rise with pools next to shanty town

Liberalism in 2019 has few friends: some commentators are even heralding the death of liberalism. What, then, went wrong in the liberal tradition to get us to this point? Is the liberal model itself to blame – including liberal understandings of freedom and the state? Or has the problem been one of implementation – or a failure by liberalism to take seriously issues of equality and access to the social minimum for all? Further, how might we conceive of alternatives to liberalism, or reimagine the liberal tradition, so as better to respond to these failings?

Join us for a conversation about the future of liberalism with Professors Ratna Kapur, Mark Tushnet and Richard Holden and Dr Michaela Hailbronner, co-moderated by UNSW’s Dr Ben Golder and Professor Rosalind Dixon.

A UNSW Grand Challenges event


Photo of Ratna Kapur

Ratna Kapur

Ratna Kapur is currently a Visiting Professor at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London. Her regular position is as Distinguished Faculty, Symbiosis School of Law, India, and Senior Faculty, Institute of Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School. She has written and published extensively on human rights, international law, and postcolonial and feminist legal theory. Her latest book is Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl (2018).


head shot of Mark Tushnet

Mark Tushnet

Professor Mark Tushnet graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall. He specialises in constitutional law and theory, including comparative constitutional law. His research includes studies examining (skeptically) the practice of judicial review in the United States and around the world. He also writes in the area of legal and particularly constitutional history, with works on the development of civil rights law in the United States and (currently) a long-term project on the history of the Supreme Court in the 1930s.


Head shot of Michaela Hailbronner

Michaela Hailbronner

Michaela Hailbronner is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Münster in Germany. Her current research is primarily in the field of human rights and comparative constitutional law. Her analysis of German constitutionalism against a broader comparative background appeared in a paper that won the I.CON Inaugural Best Paper Award 2014 and in her first book Traditions and Transformations: The Rise of German Constitutionalism (Oxford University Press, 2015). Since then she has worked at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law at Heidelberg (Germany), the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and taught at the University of Ottawa (Canada) as a visiting professor during the January term 2016.


Richard Holden head shot

Richard Holden

Richard Holden is one of Australia’s leading economists. 

As Professor of Economics at UNSW Business School his research focuses on contract theory, law and economics, and political economy. He has written on topics including: political districting, the boundary of the firm, incentives in organizations, mechanism design, and voting rules. Richard received a PhD from Harvard University and was a faculty member at MIT and the University of Chicago before returning to Australia.

He is a regular columnist and media commentator on a wide range of economic issues in Australia and internationally. He has published in leading economics journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics and American Economic Review. His popular writings have appeared in outlets such as the New York Times, Australian Financial Review, The Australian and The Conversation where he publishes his regular column Vital Signs.


head shot of Rosaline Dixon

Rosalind Dixon

Rosalind Dixon has been described as “the leading comparative constitutional scholar of her generation” worldwide. Her research focuses on comparative constitutional law and constitutional design, theories of constitutional dialogue and amendment, socio-economic rights and constitutional law and gender. As Professor of Law at UNSW, Dixon’s current focus is on fragile democracies, or the threat posed by democratic backsliding, and what law and legal institutions may be able to do about it. Dixon is a member of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, deputy director of the Herbert Smith Freehills Initiative on Law and Economics, and co-lead of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality.


Head shot of Ben Golder

Ben Golder

Ben Golder is Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Education) at UNSW Law. Ben works at the intersection of Political and Legal Theory, and is interested in the areas of Public Law and Human Rights. He is currently researching critical and historical approaches to contemporary human rights discourse and, more specifically, the relationship between human rights and post-foundationalist thought.