Harvard Law Students for Open Inquiry (OI) is a content- and viewpoint- neutral student organization that seeks to provide an open and welcoming forum for free expression at Harvard Law School. Because much of an HLS student’s time in the classroom is spent discussing the minutiae of legal doctrines and black letter law, it is easy to miss opportunities to have substantive and meaningful conversations on issues of importance and disagreement. As a result, we aim to create spaces for informed and educational conversations between HLS students across demographics and affinity groups, with all ideas—from across the ideological and political spectrum—open for discourse. Although we might host the occasional speaker, our meetings are entirely student led and consist of discussions between peers.
Over a catered dinner, members are encouraged to engage in discussions on topics of interest. We crowd-source topics (any topic is of equal opportunity for discussion), and then splinter into groups to discuss. Everyone is welcome to participate in the conversation and to change tables for a different topic whenever they wish. Our members are encouraged to share their views, so that their ideas can be understood, questioned, and examined on their own merits rather than the perceived merits of their hawkers. Our primary intention is the exchange of ideas to facilitate understanding, not merely secure persuasion.
Our past topics include:
- Ethics of fetal cell use in vaccine production
- National security impositions on civil liberties
- Efficacy of individual behavioral changes, such as paper straws, to combat climate change
- Metaphysics of transgender
- Rights of employers to mandate vaccination of their employees
- Morality of U.S. intervention abroad