CANCELLED - Societal Constitutionalization: Law, Rights and Citizenship in an International Context (11-13 June 2014)


Professor Larry Catá Backer, The Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University
Professor Hauke Brunkhorst, Institute of Sociology, University of Flensburg
Professor MSO Poul F. Kjaer, Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School
Claire O’Brien (PhD), Special Advisor on Human Rights and Business, Danish Human Rights Institute
Professor Grahame Thompson, Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School
Professor Antje Wiener, Centre for Globalisation and Governance, University of Hamburg

Course coordinator 

The course is open to PhD students from business studies, political science, history, sociology, anthropology, law and related disciplines that have an interest in constitutional studies and wishes to apply constitutional approaches in their work.
Participants can choose between submitting a full paper (some 20 pages) or shorter outlines (some 5 pages) on how they envisage using constitutional approaches in their work. Deadline for the submission of presentations is the 2 June 2014.
All participants are expected to have read all papers submitted and be present for the full duration of the course.


Are we seeing the subtle constitutionalization of large sections of international activities and relationships? This is the issues confronted in this innovative PhD course. Across the social, political, economic and particularly business worlds we find the progressive resort to legal forms of regulation and governance, and an appeal to new rights and forms of citizenship in its wake. But what does this signal and what is its significance?
In concrete terms the course will analyse the idea and core features of constitutionalization outside traditional nation state setups and provide practical tools enabling participants to deploy a constitutional outlook to the study of social processes, institutions and public and private organizations operating beyond the state. The course will explore central features of constitutionalization such as self-conscious rule making; the institutional structure of constitutional orders; questions of competences and the idea and implications of interpretative autonomy; as well as the potential of non-state human rights regimes in relation to transnational corporations and other international actors. The course also assesses whether and how these features are being enacted in the social and business world. It is theoretically pluralistic and provides insights from political science, political economy, sociology and law presented by high level international experts in the field.

Learning objectives 

Participants will gain in-depth knowledge of constitutional theory and approaches covering a variety of disciplines and empirical fields and their application to transnational processes and structures. The participants will also tests these approaches in their own projects.

Lecture plan 

Wednesday 11 June
9:00 – 10:00 Welcome, Introduction, practical info and overview of the course (Poul F. Kjaer and Grahame Thompson)

10:00 – 12:00 What is Constitutionalization? Basic Theories and Concepts (Grahame Thompson)

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 15:00 The Evolution of (International) Constitutionalization (Hauke Brunkhorst, University of Flensburg: guest lecture)

15:00 – 17:00 Presentation and discussion of PhD papers.

Thursday 12 June
9:00 – 11:00 Sociological Approaches to Constitutionalization (Poul F. Kjaer)

11:00 – 12:00 Presentation and discussion of PhD paper

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 15:00 Unbound Constitutionalisation: Potentials, Problems, Power Shifts (Antje Wiener, University of Hamburg: guest lecture)

15:00 – 17:00 Presentation and discussion of PhD papers. General Discussion

Friday 13 June
9:00 – 11:00 Transnational Constitutional Changes and the Role of Transnational Corporations (Larry Catá Backer, University of Pennsylvania: guest lecture)

11:00 – 12:00 Presentation and discussion of PhD paper

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 15:00 Human Rights in a Business Constitutional Context  (Claire O’brien, Danish Human Rights Institute: guest lecture)

15:00 – 17:00 Concluding Session:  ‘How to Do’ Business. Constitutional Research (GT/PK)

Course literature 

The literature will be made available to participants in advance.

Key readings (extracts from the books):
Larry Catá Backer: ‘Collisions of Societal Constitutions: Hierarchical Power Arrangements and Horizontal Effects in the Management of Human Rights Regimes’, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 20, 2, forthcoming 2013.
Larry Catá Backer: ‘Private Actors and Public Governance Beyond the State: The Multinational Corporation, the Financial Stability Board and the Global Governance Order’, 18, 2, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies: 751- 802, 2011.
Larry Catá Backer: ‘Multinational Corporations as Objects and Sources of Transnational Regulation’, ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law, 14:499-523, 2008.
Hauke Brunkhorst: Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions: Evolutionary Perspectives, Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming June 2014.
Poul F. Kjaer: Constitutionalism in the Global Realm. A Sociological Approach, Routledge, forthcoming March 2014.
Poul F: Kjaer, Gunther Teubner, Alberto Febbrajo (eds.): The Financial Crisis in Constitutional Perspective: The Dark Side of Functional Differentiation, Hart Publishing, 2011.
Grahame Thompson: The Constitutionalization of the Global Corporate Sphere? Oxford University Press 2012.
Chris Thornhill: A Sociology of Constitutions: Constitutions and State Legitimacy in Historical-Sociological Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2010 (paperback 2012).
Antje Wiener: Global Constitutionalism, Oxford Bibliographies, 2012, Online:

Antje Wiener, Anthony F Lang, Jr, James Tully, Mattias Kumm and Miguel P Maduro: 2012, Why A New Journal of Global Constitutionalism, Global Constitutionalism 1, 1, 1-15: Cambridge Journals Online:
Antje Wiener: The Invisible Constitution of Politics, Contested Norms and International Encounters Cambridge University Press, 2008 (paperback 2012).

PhD School 
PhD School in Organisation and Management Studies
Department of Business and Politics
Enroll no later than 
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 14:45