Informal Reading Group – Experimentalism: A Paradigm for Our Age?

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You’re invited to a reading group hosted by three Global/Emile Noël Fellows, description below.  All sessions will be held at 22 Washington Square North in the 1st Floor lounge/conference room. All students and NYU affiliates are welcome to join the group, and there are no prerequisites.


Tuesday, February 14, 4:15 – 5:45 pm, guest: Charles Sabel (Columbia law)
We will be discussing the Introduction and Chapter III from the book ‘Fixing the Climate. Strategies from an uncertain world’, co-authored by Charles Sabel and David Victor.

Tuesday, March 07, 4:15 – 5:45 pm, guest: Gráinne de Búrca (NYU Law)
We will be discussing two readings. One broader piece on experimentalism in global governance, and a chapter from Professor De Búrca book ‘Reframing Human Rights in a Turbulent Era’.

Tuesday, March 28, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, (guest TBA)

Tuesday, April 18, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, guest: Kevin Davis (NYU Law)

Tuesday, May 09, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, guest: Jeremy Kessler (Columbia Law)


Experimentalism: A Paradigm for Our Age?

It is hard to deny that constitutional democracies are under severe strain these days. They face rising levels of polarization and inequality. And they’re encountering harsh and extremely vocal criticisms for failing their missions of improving the welfare of their citizens. International organizations don’t fare much better as well, faced as they are with what scholarship has identified as a growing “backlash” against them. This reading group will explore if we might be able to make headway in resolving this contemporary malaise by embracing more seriously a particular governmental paradigm—that of experimentalism. This paradigm suggests a rather radical break from how we usually think about organizing societies and their laws, at both the domestic and the international levels. Among experimentalism’s key features are a commitment to consistent innovation, learning, policy mobility and scale-up of successful innovations, and the blurring of hierarchical lines between regulators, regulated entities, and civil society broadly understood.

The reading group will begin by covering the theory underlying experimentalism, including its key ideas and their supposed advantages. We will then move to explore the application (both real and possible) of experimentalism in three specific contexts: international law, administrative law, and urban law and policy (and localism more broadly). The reading group will then conclude with a discussion of critical views of experimentalism and possible responses to those criticisms. Throughout, we will have various guests who have written and considered experimentalism joining our class—from NYU Law and beyond.

The reading group will be coordinated by Elena De Nictolis (Hauser fellow), Nedim Hogic (Emile Noël fellow) and Oren Tamir (Hauser fellow). All students and NYU affiliates are welcome to join the group, and there are no prerequisites. Light refreshments will be served.

For queries and any other request, feel free to email Elena De Nictolis at: If you wish to receive updates and readings from the organizers ahead of the session:

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