Harnessing the Positive Power of Rankings: A Response to Posner and Sunstein
12 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2005
This is the Keynote Address from the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington's Symposium on the Next Generation of Law School Rankings. The Author responds to papers submitted by Richard Posner and Cass Sunstein also submitted to the symposium.
Given the amount of popular and academic interest in the topic of educational rankings generally and law school rankings specifically, the discussions and debates tend to be quite narrowly drawn. The common implicit assumption in such debates is that educational rankings ought to reflect educational quality, and disagreement usually centers around whether educational quality is possible to measure and, if so, how best to do so.
Articles prepared for the forthcoming Indiana Law Journal symposium on The Next Generation of Law School Rankings by Judge Richard Posner and Professor Cass Sunstein offer useful insights within the parameters of the conventional rankings debate, but they fail to break free from its implicit boundaries. In this symposium contribution response to those articles, I first address these authors' contributions within the framework in which they are situated, but I then go on to argue for an expanded vision of the future of educational rankings - one that views rankings as instrumentally useful to the purpose of encouraging socially beneficial competition among educational institutions. When designing rankings, the primary goal should be to harness this positive power.
Keywords: Law school rankings
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