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Katharine G. Young

Katharine Young serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty and Global Programs and Professor of Law and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar at Boston College Law School. Her research interests lie in comparative constitutional law, international human rights law and law and gender. Her recent scholarship focuses on how “positive” legal obligations, which require state action rather than restraint, challenge traditional constitutionalist models of public law. This includes an extended study of the mechanisms of queues and waiting lists in law, as well as a comparative analysis of social movements and litigation around rights to health care, housing, education, and other economic and social rights. 

Professor Young earned her B.A. and LL.B. (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and later completed the LL.M. studies and S.J.D. degree from Harvard University as a Knox Scholar. She also completed a law exchange at the University of Heidelberg, Germany (in German).

Professor Young’s publications include: “Human Rights Originalism,” 110 Georgetown Law Journal 1097 (2022), “Rights and Queues: Distributive Contests in the Modern State,” 55 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 65 (2016) (selected for the 2016 Harvard/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum) and “The Minimum Core of Economic and Social Rights: A Concept in Search of Content” 33 Yale Journal of International Law 113 (2008). Her monograph, Constituting Economic and Social Rights (Oxford University Press, 2012), is published in the Oxford Constitutional Theory series, and she has also edited The Future of Economic and Social Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2019) with a foreword by Amartya Sen, and The Public Law of Gender (Cambridge University Press, 2016) (with Kim Rubenstein).  Other recent publications have appeared in the University of Toronto Law Journal, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Harvard Law Review Forum, the International Journal of Constitutional Law, and the Australian Year Book of International Law and in over a dozen books. She has also published a casebook, with James S. Rogers, The Law of Contracts, Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 2017) and her work has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese. She is presently co-editing, with Malcolm Langford, the Oxford Handbook of Economic and Social Rights, an interdisciplinary study involving legal, philosophical, historical, and broader social scientific inquiry across five continents.

Before coming to Boston College, Professor Young was an Associate Professor at the Australian National University and a Byse Teaching Fellow at Harvard Law School. She also completed fellowships with Harvard University’s Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Professor Young also clerked for Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG of the Australian High Court, and represented the winning Australian team of the Jessup International Law Moot Court. When in practice, she worked as a lawyer with Allens in Melbourne, with the United Nations in Bonn, Germany, with the Legal Resources Centre in Accra, Ghana, and with Paul, Weiss in New York.



The Immediacy of Economic and Social Rights