March 21, 2013
Bisom-Rapp on Why We All Should Go to Italy Next Spring
We posted here an announcement of the Eleventh Conference in commemoration of Prof. Marco Biagi. The Conference, organized by the Marco Biagi Foundation, took place in Modena (Italy) on 18 and 19 March 2013. Susan Bisom-Rapp (Thomas Jefferson) attended and presented, and I asked her to prepare a short description of the Conference for us, both to describe the Conference itself and also to talk about why the Conference might be of interest to American LEL professors. Here's her report:
Every year since 2003, the Marco Biagi Foundation has hosted an international conference in Modena, Italy devoted to international and comparative employment and labor relations. This year’s conference, The Transnational Dimension of Labor Relations: A New Order in the Making?, brought together scholars from Europe, Africa, and the Americas, who analyzed the challenges of regulating work, promoting labor standards, and addressing increasing economic inequality in the wake of the global economic crisis. Particular attention was given to new forms of transnational collective bargaining, emerging hard and soft law techniques to influence the conduct of transnational corporations, the difficulty of establishing fair conditions of work for migrants, and the lack of a clear hierarchy of law-making authority at the international level. Participants addressed these issues from a number of disciplines including law, industrial relations, economics, and human resource management.
Part of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy, the Marco Biagi Foundation is also home to the International Doctoral Research School in Labour Relations, which promotes PhD work that is comparative and interdisciplinary. To advance the work of its own students, and establish links with PhD and post-doctoral students around the world, the Foundation launched its Young Scholars’ Workshop last year. This year, we heard and commented on papers from PhD students from Norway, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Austria, Estonia, and Hungary. The chance to provide feedback from an outsider’s perspective – that of an American law professor – was fun for me and, I hope, helpful for them. For me, this session has become a highlight of the annual conference.
Mike Zimmer (Loyola University Chicago) and I were first introduced to the Foundation’s annual conference in 2007 by our co-author Roger Blanpain (Universities of Leuven and Tilburg, Belgium and the Netherlands). Roger, a prolific scholar in the field of comparative labor and employment law, attends most years, as do some of the most influential scholars in that field, including Manfred Weiss (J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany), Csilla Kollonay-Lehoczy (Central European University, Budapest, Hungary), Jacques Rojot, (University of Paris II – Panthéon Assas, France), Alan Neal (University of Warwick, U.K.), and Janice Bellace (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania). The opportunity for conversations and exchange with these scholars and others has kept me coming back to Modena annually since then. It has also led to my fruitful collaboration with Malcolm Sargeant (Middlesex University Business School, London, U.K.), with whom I have written several articles on comparative age discrimination law. Serving on the Foundation’s international council has helped me understand the challenges facing higher education in Europe. I recommend this kind of involvement to American legal scholars interested in a fresh perspective on the challenges and possible solutions to the problems we confront at home. I only worry that in this age of austerity and shrinking travel budgets, it will become increasingly difficult for those in the American legal academy to participate in conferences outside our borders. Finding ways to do it may take some creative planning, but, at least in my experience, it will be well worth the effort.
Many thanks, Susan!
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