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Conference | D&I Symposium

Inclusivity with Law: What does it mean to look at diversity and inclusion from a legal perspective?

Thursday 13 January 2022
Being the First

On the one hand, the law plays an important role in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion, but on the other hand, the law can also be seen as a source of inequality and division. What does it mean to look at diversity and inclusion from a legal perspective? How can teaching and the study of law contribute to a more inclusive society?

The D&I symposium is the time of year when the University community looks back on the developments and milestones in its D&I policy from the past year, and gains inspiration on which steps to take in the future. This year’s edition of this event, which is open to the entire university community, is a collaboration between the D&I Expertise Office, Leiden Law School and the National Council of Deans in Law as part of the National Sector Plan Law.


The main language of the symposium will be English unless otherwise noted. Dutch-English and English-Sign Language of the Netherlands (SLN) translation will be provided during the plenary part of the symposium. During workshops SLN translation will be available upon request.


Jasmijn Mioch


The programme will feature panel discussions, lectures and workshops on a wide range of topics, including a dialogue on the law and experiences of exclusion, studying as a first-generation student, working with autism, tools for inclusive education and curricula, bystander intervention and more.

Welcome by Jasmijn Mioch
Opening by Annetje Ottow, President of the Executive Board
Ashley Terlouw: Equity, diversity and the university
Panel discussion
Reflection and conclusion with President Annetje Ottow, and Dean Joanne van der Leun

Keynote speech

In her keynote speech, Professor of Sociology of Law from Radboud University Nijmegen Ashley Terlouw will explore the gap between the law and everyday practice, and will look at the role universities can play in fostering inclusion and addressing exclusionary practices. Terlouw is currently coordinating the Senate’s parliamentary investigation into discrimination in four areas: the job market, education, social security and the police.

Panel discussion

What does it take to foster an inclusive university community?

With (among others):

  • Joanne van der Leun, Dean of the Faculty of Law
  • Aya Ezawa, Diversity Officer Leiden University
  • Susanne Deen, D&I Coordinator for the faculties of Law, and Governance and Global Affairs


A Dutch district court ruled on 22 September 2021 that the military and border police (Koninklijke Marechaussee) is allowed to use ethnicity as one of the criteria to select people for checks at the border, a legal defeat that rights activists immediately vowed to appeal. The decision was issued in a case brought against the government by two citizens, backed by civil rights groups, who argued that they were singled out for checks by officers from the military and border police force because of the colour of their skin.

The ruling by the district court generated a lot of discussion on whether or not the court was allowing ethno-racial profiling in the context of border controls. Ethno-racial profiling has been heavily debated and contested over the past decade in the context of ‘regular’ police work with both researchers and NGOs highlighting the devastating effects of these practices on feelings of inclusion, belonging and trust.

In this Diversity Deliberation session, we want to reflect upon the question: How does this verdict – and the realization that selection based on skin colour seems to be allowed – affect you? How does that resonate with your own experiences at Leiden University?  Together with a group of invited students we will discuss these questions and reflect on what we need for inclusion and how we can prevent exclusion in academia.

The Van Vollenhoven Institute is organising a year-long public lecture series entitled 'Reconsidering the Socio-Legal Gaze'. The lecture series aims to spark critical debates about the visions of justice and positions of power that inform Law and Society scholarship at Leiden and beyond. The lecture series is organised by the Van Vollenhoven Institute Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the first of its kind at Leiden Law School. As part of this series, Dr Mohsen al Attar will give a lecture at the D&I Symposium. This lecture is part of the second half of the series focusing on 'Future Horizons' of socio-legal scholarship in the context of three key values that drive contemporary scholarship: decolonisation, diversity, and development.

Dr Mohsen al Attar is an Associate Professor at the University of Warwick and a Visiting Scholar at UCL. Dr al Attar is best known for his writings on Third World Approaches to International Law, a theory that guided his doctoral research and continues to inform his investigations into global political economy. In his forthcoming book with OUP, A Guerrilla At the Hague, he argues that many of the principles of international economic law preserve a Eurocentric epistemology that favours a parochial view of human development and human flourishing. He has published in journals as philosophically and geographically disparate as the McGill Law Review, the Third World Quarterly, the Palestine Yearbook of International Law, the Leiden Journal of International Law, and the Asian Journal of International Law. In his latest piece for Law & Critique, he argues that decolonisation is a paradoxical strategy in the struggle for Third World emancipation, insisting on cultural plurarlity in international lawmaking while reaffirming the Eurocentric foundations of the field.

Brown Eyes Blue Eyes is an exercise in discrimination, originally developed by Jane Elliott, a US teacher from Iowa in 1968. Seyda Buurman-Kutsal is here to reveal the systems that are involved in exclusion, discrimination and racism within society and of course the microcosmos of the University. You will experience the mechanisms and be shown how to open up a learning dialogue. In the microcosmos that the exercise creates, participants will have the opportunity to broaden their understanding of systematic nature of power and oppression, and its impact on our relationship with each other and with ourselves. The perspective of changemakers within the intercultural field will be questioned and emotionally felt. Buurman-Kutsal explores with the audience the problems of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and ethnocentrism and the responsibility shared by all of us for illuminating them in and eliminating them from ourselves and our environment. Participants will understand how to create and maintain an environment in which diversity is valued and inclusion is practised.

Participation in this workshop can lead to stressful experiences. Experiences that minorities can experience in everyday situations.

Bystander Intervention training teaches individuals how to recognise and safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations. This workshop develops participants’ skills to intervene in a variety of challenging, real life situations and strengthens their assertiveness in both personal and external experiences.

Our Bodies Our Voice (OBOV) is a non-profit foundation that aims to prevent sexual violence and establish consent culture at universities through workshops and training courses. OBOV's vision and mission is to have all university campuses safe from sexual violence: every student and staff member should have the chance to learn about consent, be heard, and become a change agent for sexual violence prevention.

The neurodiversity platform is a new platform within Leiden University aiming to help make room and realise a safe, effective and inclusive working environment where all staff members with a neurodiverse indication can be heard and feel welcome.  The new platform is chaired by the new Autism Ambassador Stefan de Jong, Functional Application Manager at Leiden University. Stefan has followed a training by the Vanuit Autisme Bekeken (From the Perspective of Autism) foundation.

During this session, we will focus on what the ambassadorship entails, how you can contribute to an inclusive working environment, and what exactly is meant with equity, among others. We will also examine a range of issues and dilemmas staff can encounter in their everyday working environment. As the focus is on working with a neurodiverse indication, we specifically encourage staff members to participate, although everyone, whether or student or staff member, is welcome to join the workshop


Organised at the initiative of the Board of Deans together with Utrecht University, in this session teachers from Utrecht University will share the steps they are taking to address the need to ensure more inclusive teaching starting with broader university initiatives and focusing on a concrete project related to inclusive curricula and learning environments, among others in the fields of law, educational science, and medicine. Next, the session will open up to a panel discussion to hear from all levels of university, from a student to a dean, on the needs and challenges around inclusive curricula work. The session aims to share experiences and tools in order to start the much-needed conversations around ways to approach inclusive teaching.

During this workshop we will explore the hurdles first generation students, who are the first in their family to attend university, encounter and what is needed to provide all students with equal chances to achieve their academic ambitions. What difference does it make to be a first or second generation student? What are the unspoken rules and assumptions that are important to be aware of? What can the university offer to facilitate access to knowledge, connections, skills and resources that are important to enable the academic achievements of all students? What can we all contribute to a welcoming and inclusive university community? This is a first meeting to bring together students, alumni and interested allies, with the aim to build up a network and provide resources, as part of the project ‘Carels Wens’ (Carel's Wish) which is made possible by the donors of the Leiden Empowerment Fund. We will start off with a panel discussion and then you are free to join the discussion.

Workshop: A Case Study of Deaf Citizens in Court (Languages: Sign Language of the Netherlands and English) 

There are well-known biases when it comes to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and minorities. Much less known are biases about people with disabilities. Like people who have an auditory disability, the deaf. In this workshop, participants are introduced to the often unknown but interesting world of the deaf as a minority group with its own sign language (recognised by law in the Netherlands since 2020) and culture. It will become clear that it can become quite complex when diversity and inclusion are not taken into account. Indirectly, therefore, it will also become clear that the reversed world, taking diversity into account, can actually provide enrichment which ensures that the university as an institution can be a changemaker in society. The workshop leaders will introduce this topic from their work as respectively sign language linguist (Oyserman) and independent advisor deaf/hard of hearing and educational designer (De Geus) by using a common case study with deaf people in court.

Voorkeursbeleid voor meer diversiteit? Reflectie en ervaringen over werving en retentie van de rechtenfaculteiten

De rechtenfaculteiten willen een qua interculturele diversiteit meer geschakeerd personeelsbestand. Het personeel vormt op dit moment in ieder geval geen afspiegeling van de studenten die op een rechtenstudie afkomen en dat moet om meerdere redenen veranderen. De rechtenfaculteiten gaan met u in gesprek over hun motieven en hun plannen. Welke rol zou voorkeursbeleid hierin kunnen spelen? Moet voorkeursbeleid specifiek gericht op (potentiële) medewerkers met een intercultureel diverse achtergrond komen? Waaruit zou een dergelijk voorkeursbeleid kunnen bestaan? 

Tijdens de workshop bespreken wij voorbeelden van voorkeursbeleid (zoals het ‘equity package’) en komen medewerkers aan het woord over hun eigen ervaringen. Met de zaal zal van gedachten worden gewisseld over de voor- en nadelen van voorkeursbeleid.

This session was organised at the initiative of the National Council of the Deans of Law.

This workshop will be conducted in Dutch.

Registration is closed.

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