Universiteit Leiden

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Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law

Most people know what law is. But what it should be or where it comes from is what interests the researchers from the Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law. Key to their approach are topics that go right to the heart of philosophy of law. What is a state? What are the limitations of freedom of expression? Why do we punish people at all?

Internal and external perspectives of law

The interdisciplinary study of law combines internal and external perspectives of law. Different disciplines, and thus different research methods from law, sociology and philosophy too, are given expression here. This range of disciplines and research methods is reflected in the ideas and opinions of the people who work at the Institute.

What is characteristic of the Institute is the tolerance for different opinions and approaches. Many researchers from the Institute actively participate in the public depate as opinion makers or columnists.

Reflection on state and society

The research at the Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law relates to the most topical issues in our society, regardless whether this means terrorism research, which is studied within philosophy of law, or social cohesion, the European Union or the separation of church and state. Reflection on the state and society is one of the primary tasks of philosophy of law.

Functionering van rechtssystemenHow legal systems work

One of the oldest departments at the Institute is the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society (VVI). The VVI contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the origin and workings of legal systems in Asia, Africa and Europe, in particular, and thus to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Its researchers work closely with researchers from the Faculty of Humanities and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies.

The Legal History group looks at how the law worked in the past and how the governing law developed. Its researchers study Roman law as the cornerstone of present-day European legal systems. It is often surprising how applicable the history of law is to current legal issues.

Law and Digital Technologies

eLaw, the Center for Law and Digital Technologies, studies the role of law in the information society: how can the law help ensure that information and communication technology works properly and facilitate its use by citizens, businesses and governments? In their research and teaching, the academics at the Center hope to contribute to a sustainable, global information society by developing new regulation models and instruments and sharing this knowledge with others. One example is their research into internet freedom.

Unique master’s programme

The master’s programme in Encyclopaedia and Philosophy of Law is the only master’s programme in the Netherlands and Belgium that covers all disciplines within law. The philosophical perspective is what connects these.

From terrorism to privacy

Government organisations, such as the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, regularly consult the Institute on matters relating to the open society), as do higher education institutions that want to know how to deal with privacy legislation.

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