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Teaching in the MJ Program...

By Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, Faculty and Professor of the MJ-LEL Capstone course.

So, I can't remember a time I wasn't teaching in the MJ Program. I'm sure there was a time -- before 2017. But now I've been teaching in an HR program for many years -- in the evening, online, and I love it.

My background was far from Employment and Labor Law -- which is the focus of the program. But as the original director was formulating the program, I suggested that we needed a class on Intellectual Property, that there was a time that HR and labor people would have to know about IP - for contracts, for the day-to-day interaction with people, for life. He wasn't quite sure, but he said, "OK." At first, about 50% of the students were hesitant -- they couldn't see the connection. But slowly over time, they did. And now, when I begin, most of them already have IP experience in their jobs or have had situations arise that relate to patents, trademarks, copyright, right of publicity, trade secrets. And now with social media (the other class that I designed initially), all of that background in IP makes a huge difference in tackling all of the employment-related issues that arise in the employment context. But you have to have a background in IP before you can tackle the problems of social media, which there are many.

So, now, I see myself as a IP person that teaches HR people. Like a science professor that teaches at an art college. And I love it. I also designed and teach the Capstone course, which is the writing part of the MJ degree. I love this class, as I watch our students transition from law students to legal professionals -- and they are BRILLIANT. I am blown away every semester with what they do, how they write, and the final papers they produce. And most have not written a legal research paper before, and many have not written a research paper in the age of the Internet. They are brilliant.

So, my biography -- it is a mixture of many things. I worked professionally as an Actor in my 20s, while going to UCLA for a history degree. I earned a Ph.D. in European Cultural History, with an emphasis in 20th century war as expressed in literature, art and other creative expressions. I had issues with copyright while writing my dissertation and so I went to law school (yes!). There, I focused on copyright, but also dabbled in International Trade (yep), and so pursued an LL.M., which was an intersection of many things -- our trade system today was a result of trying to prevent war again in Europe.

My current research focuses on the role of law in creativity -- and it has taken many routes throughout the years. I have focused on copyright duration (the Durationator project), and on emerging spaces like Second Life and Pinterest. My work currently has focused on quilting (with the Just Wanna Quilt project and podcast). And I am pivoting to other spaces as comparison -- tattoos, video games, and musicals, for a project called "Borrowed Culture."

I am also the co-author of the Just Wanna book seres, published by C&T Publishing. The first one Just Wanna Trademark for Makers came out in 2023, and the next one Just Wanna Copyright for Makers comes out at the end of 2024.

My philosophy is simple: kindness and developing your own super power. I'm so proud to be part of the MJ program, and can't wait each semester to see what the next class of Capstonians (capstone students) do.

Teaching in the MJ Program © 2003 by Elizabeth Townsend Gard is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

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