Derrick Bell’s Community-Based Classroom

5 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2012 Last revised: 1 Jan 2013

See all articles by Joy Radice

Joy Radice

University of Tennessee College of Law

Date Written: June 11, 2012


In Derrick Bell’s Community-based Classroom, I argue that Derrick Bell enhanced his participatory pedagogical approach to teaching constitutional law by intentionally creating community within the law school classroom — a community that humanized the students’ educational experience. This essay explores three ways in which he created community: through his participatory, student-centered course structure; his social classroom environment; and his interactive self-assessments. Over the past few years, legal education has come under indictment in the media for not adequately training lawyers for practice. Bell’s community-based classroom responds to this indictment, fusing both theory and practice in teaching doctrinal constitutional law courses that aim to transform students into competent, caring professionals.

Keywords: Derrick, Bell, education, legal, Constitutional law, teaching, classroom

Suggested Citation

Radice, Joy, Derrick Bell’s Community-Based Classroom (June 11, 2012). Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Vol. Special Feature, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Joy Radice (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States
865-974-6773 (Phone)

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