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Adelle Blackett

Labor Law Expert Brings Expertise to ILR as Visiting Professor

Adelle Blackett spent the fall semester as a visiting professor at the ILR School, with a cross-appointment at Cornell Law School.

“Having a renowned international labor law scholar like Adelle Blackett visiting at ILR provides a great opportunity for students to learn from someone who is at the forefront of thinking about challenging issues like how to protect domestic workers from mistreatment in a global economy,” said Alexander J. Colvin, Ph.D. '99, the Kenneth F. Kahn '69 Dean and the Martin F. Scheinman '75, 'M.S. '76, Professor of Conflict Resolution. “Professor Blackett’s time at ILR is also building on the growing international focus of the school, with a number of new faculty hires with international focuses to their research.”

A law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law at McGill University, Blackett shared her expertise with Cornell students while exchanging with scholars across various disciplines.

“There aren’t many places like ILR,” Blackett said. “You can walk down the hall and have a conversation with an economist at 10 a.m. and at 10:30 speak with a historian and at 11 meet with a lawyer, and they are all engaging on common themes in their work.”

Blackett’s course, “Advanced Topics and Transnational Labor Law,” was an opportunity for students to think critically about international labor law and the global economy.

“The course highlighted how international labor law has functioned within a particular paradigm that has been state-centered, but how some of the challenges it seeks to address now go well beyond any one state’s borders and involve many constituencies who come at issues from a range of different ways,” Blackett said.

“The students have been fabulous. They’ve come to class enthusiastic, prepared and willing to tackle some pretty hard questions.”

For her own scholarship, Blackett spent the semester meeting ILR professors, learning about their research areas, sharing ideas and thinking about future collaborations.

“It's been a really open and generative moment,” Blackett said. “Both within ILR and with colleagues in Law, and, frankly, in other departments, for example, Africana Studies. It’s just been a nice opportunity to meet staff, students and faculty around the Cornell University community.”

In a November presentation at Cornell, Blackett presented themes related to her recently released report on Canadian employment equity, which she says is a distant cousin to affirmative action in the U.S. She has begun developing a paper for publication that teases out Canada-U.S. links.

“I have had some great conversations with colleagues here about where to go with that piece, which is a direct result of being here,” said Blackett, a Royal Society fellow and lawyer emeritus of the Quebec Bar.

Blackett is no stranger to Cornell. Her book, “Everyday Transgressions: Domestic Workers’ Transnational Challenge to International Labor Law,” was published by the Cornell University Press. She delivered ILR’s annual Cook-Gray Lecture on the same topic a year later.

A native of Montreal, Blackett’s time in Ithaca is her first prolonged stay in the United States since she was a graduate student at Columbia University.

“It’s been great to see what it's actually like to be here,” Blackett said. “When you visit for a lecture or a workshop, you’re just there for a day or two, so it’s nice to have a long visit and have the opportunity to understand better how the university works and be a part of this community for a while.”

Outside of her academic responsibilities, Blackett has enjoyed taking in Ithaca’s scenery, experiencing local cuisine and engaging with the community – particularly visiting St. James AME Zion Church. The oldest church in Ithaca and a stop on the Underground Railroad, it is a location where Cornell professors, postdoctoral fellows, and students continue excavating and screening for artifacts. “The history here in Ithaca is quite remarkable, and it’s nice to see it being unearthed, literally,” she said.

“I visited with my family,” Blackett said, “and went back to worship with that grace-filled community one Sunday before returning to Montreal.”

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