Announcing the Gray Center’s (Significantly Expanded) 2020–2021 Research Roundtables

In the year ahead, the Center is prioritizing scholarly research over public events, and it will support new scholarship on issues ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic response, to agency expertise more broadly, to fundamental questions of constitutional structure and process.

I’m pleased to announce the first seven scholarly research initiatives that the Antonin Scalia Law School’s C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State is organizing for the 2020–2021 academic year.

In its first four years, the Center has focused nearly equally on two programmatic initiatives:

  • “Research roundtables,” where scholars and practitioners workshop new legal, economic, and political science scholarship on the modern administrative state;
  • And public policy conferences, where scholars, practitioners, and policymakers present and debate these new papers, connecting scholarship to public policy and legal practice.

In the next year, however, the Gray Center is planning to significantly reallocate its resources toward research roundtables. While the Center will still host several public events—including its annual George Mason Law Review Administrative Law Symposium, which I’ll discuss in a moment—the Center’s predominant focus in the year ahead will be to incubate new scholarship on the most important questions arising from administrative law and public administration. Instead of relying so heavily on in-person conferences, we will find new ways to bring important new research and analysis into the public arena.

While I have been planning this major reorientation of the Center’s operations for much of the last year, the Covid-19 outbreak made painfully clear that our institution, and similar institutions, need to fundamentally rethink how we can best add value to the marketplace of ideas. The post-Covid environment will be much different, in terms of audience expectations and priorities, and we owe it to our supporters, and our audiences, to adapt as quickly as possible in order to make the best possible use of the resources we’ve been given.

To that end, the Gray Center will convene at least eight research roundtables—nearly twice our usual number—beginning with these six subjects:

  • “Regulation, Innovation, and Public Health”
  • “Administration During Crisis: Pandemics, Financial Crises, and Other Emergencies”
  • “Judicial Review After Kisor and the Census Case”
  • “Facts, Science, and Expertise in the Administrative State”
  • “Laboratories of Administration: Lessons Learned from Reform in the States”
  • “Congress’s Power of the Purse in the Administrative State”

We soon will begin calling for papers on these subjects. And we eventually will select at least two more topics as the year progresses.

And, again, we are not eliminating public conferences altogether—far from it. The Center will host a number of conferences throughout the year, focusing not on quantity but quality. And on that note, I’m pleased to announce one of our upcoming year’s keynote events:

Symposium on the Administrative Procedure Act’s 75th Anniversary

The George Mason Law Review’s third annual Administrative Law Symposium will be “The Administrative Procedure Act at 75: Looking Back, and Looking Ahead.” It is scheduled for October 23, 2020, in downtown Washington, D.C.

We are grateful to the scholars who are writing papers or otherwise planning to participate in the symposium conference, and to the George Mason Law Review’s student editors, who will publish the papers in a special 2021 symposium issue. The Center will announce full details as the event nears.

— Adam J. White, Executive Director

The C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School (administrativestate.gmu.edu).

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