Category Archives: 125th Anniversary

Symposium on 1/30: Prof. Vicki Arroyo on Big Data and Climate Change


On January 30, the Georgetown Law Library’s 125th anniversary symposium, Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information, will explore a range of topics related to the applications of big data in legal scholarship, practice, and policy.

Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, is among numerous panelists from academia, government service, and private practice set to speak at the conference. Professor Arroyo will present on how the Georgetown Law-based organization is using data and data platforms to strategically position itself as a “go to” resource for policy makers, consumers, and reporters on climate, energy, and transportation issues.

Professor Arroyo recently gained national attention with a high-profile TED Talk (watch below) on preparing for climate change in June 2012, which continues to draw views and spread ideas online. She teaches experiential environmental law courses to both law and public policy students at Georgetown, and has previously served as a vice president at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and in positions with several federal and state government organizations dealing with the research, policy, and economics of environmental issues.

Professor Arroyo will participate in the third panel of the symposium, Big Data Applications in Scholarship and Policy II, from 1:00 to 2:15 in Gewirz 12th floor. To find out more about the day’s events and watch the symposium live online, visit the symposium homepage.

Big Data and the Law: Prof. Teitelbaum and Risk Preferences

The Georgetown Law Library’s symposium, Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information, will explore a range of topics related to the applications of big data in legal scholarship, practice, and policy.

One of our panelists, Professor Joshua Teitelbaum, will provide a fascinating introduction to risk preferences, and how data sets can illuminate why people choose certain insurance policies or 401(k) investment strategies over others. 

To learn more about Professor Teitelbaum’s research and scholarship in this area, see Joshua C. Teitelbaum, et al., The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices, American Economic Review (forthcoming), and Joshua C. Teitelbaum, et al., Unlucky or Risky? Unobserved Heterogeneity and Experience Rating in Insurance Markets  (working paper),  and watch the symposium live online on Wednesday, January 30.


The Ethics of Big Data as Seen through the Gun Map

The balance of privacy and the public need for information will be a major theme of the library’s January 30 symposium, Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information

Privacy and data is now entwined in the national discussion about gun control.  Many people have seen the interactive map posted on website of the Journal News identifying the names and addresses of all gun owners in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties. In light of the mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut, the newspaper created the map using names of addresses listed in the New York public records.  Designed to inform readers about the prevalence of gun ownership in their neighborhood, the newspaper’s maps have disturbed gun owners who feel the website violated their privacy rights and leaves them vulnerable to attack.

Jeff Sonderman of the website recently wrote an article to further the discussion of journalistic ethics when working with big datasets.  Titled Programmers Explain How to Turn Data into Journalism & Why that Matters, Sonderman’s piece ends with a list of considerations people should contemplate before posting personal data.  Below is a very simplified summary of his factors.

  1. Do you have a reason for publishing the data, or are you doing it “because we can”?

  2. Have you considered reasons why not to publish it?:

    1. Who could be harmed

    2. Is the data accurate

    3. Is it relevant to the story

  3. Are you presenting the data in a way that maximizes the benefit and minimizes the harm?

The library invites you to participate in the discussion about big data by watching the symposium live online on Wednesday, January 30.

Big Data and the Law: Prof. Blackman and Assisted Decisionmaking

The Georgetown Law Library’s symposium, Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information, will explore a range of topics related to the applications of big data in legal scholarship, practice, and policy.

One of our panelists, Professor Josh Blackman, will provide a fascinating introduction to assisted decisionmaking and “how viewing the law as data can facilitate the analysis of how courts work and how courts decide cases.  With this foundation, he will explore how attorneys can use this technology to improve the representation of their clients and how non-lawyers can obtain easier access to justice.”

To learn more about Professor Blackman’s research and scholarship in this area, see Josh Blackman, Adam Aft & Corey Carpenter, FantasySCOTUS: Crowdsourcing a Prediction Market for the Supreme Court, 10 Nw. J. Tech. & Intell. Prop. 125 (2012), visit, and watch the symposium live online on Wednesday, January 30.

Big Data and Health Care: Prof. Kathy Zeiler to talk about the National Practitioner’s Data Bank

During the law library’s Jan. 30 conference on Big Data, Professor Kathy Zeiler of the Georgetown law faculty will be presenting on issues connected to the use of big data. One of her topics has been in the news this month.

A recent Johns Hopkins study used government data sets to evaluate the number of medical malpractice claims that have resulted from egregious surgical negligence.  This work could only have been done because of a controversial collection of nearly 10,000 malpractice claims housed in the National Practitioners Data Bank (NPBD).  

Created by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the NPDB is a confidential system that compiles malpractice payouts, hospital discipline and regulatory sanctions against doctors and other health professionals. Prof. Zeiler will discuss why the government temporarily restricted public access to the NPBD in order to protect the privacy interest of the malpractice defendants.  

This is just one way in which the library’s conference will examine the legal and information-policy factors which society should consider when using data to further the public good.  

Please join us on January 30 for the conference Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information.

Big Data and Health Care: Prof. Carole Roan Gresenz on Research and Policy

On January 30 the Law Library will host a symposium on the legal issues connected with big data collection, usage, and preservation. The library is blogging about the topic of the conference in anticipation of the event. Today we highlight the work of one of the conference presenters, Carole Roan Gresenz, an economist and professor at the Georgetown School of Nursing & Health Studies.

Dr. Gresenz recently co-authored a report which used a range of data sets to assess cancer related outcomes in the District of Columbia. Entitled “Monitoring Cancer Outcomes Across the Continuum,” her work synthesizes and analyzes available data to document the capacity of the D.C. health care delivery system to provide cancer prevention and treatment services to those who are publicly insured.

The report also highlights gaps in data availability that limit understanding of cancer outcomes among District residents.  On Jan. 30 she will talk about data challenges for assessing health and health care in local communities and what the future of big data holds for better understanding and monitoring  community health.

Please register to join us on Wednesday, January 30 to learn more from her and other distinguished panelists and speakers from a variety of disciplines.

An excerpt from pages vii – viii of Professor Gresenz’s report:

Perhaps as notable and important as the key findings summarized above are the gaps in available information regarding key elements of the cancer continuum. In what follows, we highlight important opportunities for data collection and analysis, noting the scarcity of information for describing outcomes for certain population subgroups, as well as current limitations of data for tracking historical and future trends in outcomes.

(1) More needs to be known about cancer treatment patterns and quality in the District.
More comprehensive data on treatment is needed to assess (a) the full range of treatment received by patients, (b) the degree to which treatment is in accordance with standards for quality of cancer care, and (c) variation in treatment patterns over time and across subgroups of interest.

(2) Regular, continued monitoring and timely reporting of cancer-related outcomes among District residents are essential, as is assuring validity and comprehensiveness of cancer registry data in the District.
Routine, consistent, and timely reporting of cancer-related outcomes in the District is essential to guide the efforts of government and nongovernmental entities working to reduce the burden of cancer in the District.

(3) Supplementary data would provide a more robust understanding of potential barriers to cancer screening.
Self-reports of cancer screening are subject to recall bias, as survey respondents, especially those who are black and Hispanic, tend to overreport screening (Rauscher, Johnson, et al., 2008). Therefore, it would be useful to supplement BRFSS data by exploring rates of screening developed from other data sources, such as claims data, and gleaning information from patient navigators in the Citywide Patient Navigation Network to identify barriers to screening among vulnerable populations.

(4) Opportunities exist to learn more about patient experiences across the continuum.
Although measuring patients’ experiences with cancer care is a critical component of overall quality assessment, to our knowledge, no systematically collected surveys are conducted with cancer patients in the District regarding their experiences with cancer care at any stage of the continuum. Administration of surveys of experiences with cancer treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life care could inform quality improvement or consumer choices between cancer treatment facilities.

(5) More information is needed on awareness and knowledge of cancer prevention and control among District residents.
Little empirical data are available regarding the degree to which District residents—overall, or by relevant geographic or sociodemographic subgroups—are aware of cancer risks, protective factors, or the benefits of early detection. The National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey surveys a nationally representative sample of American adults biennially regarding cancer awareness and communication and may present opportunities for identification of gaps in awareness and knowledge in the District.

(6) More attention needs to be given to understanding the regional burden of disease, patient flows across geographic borders, and regional capacity for cancer care.
Many cancers treated in the District are among non-District residents, suggesting the need for exploration of the key drivers of care-seeking across District boundaries and an assessment of health care capacity that encompasses the District and surrounding counties.

Big Data at the Crossroads of Art History and Privacy

On January 30th the law library will host a conference entitled Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information.  By bringing together academics, governmental staff, policy advocates, and librarians, the day-long program will examine how to use data for the public good while protecting personal privacy. 

This is the first in a series of blog postings on the topic of big data.

Jer Thorp is an artist in residence at NYTLabs and is an adjunct professor in New York University’s ITP program. He is also the co-founder of the Office For Creative Research

In an interview with Lauren Drell and in the embedded video below, Thorp demonstrates how designers can use data to create beautiful and meaningful tools for historians and anthropologists to study society.

His projects create poignant narratives specifically by using data which is intentionally personal and yet publicly available.  In his video, Thorp offers an especially thought-provoking statement about the crossroads of art, history, data, and by implication, privacy.


GULLiver’s Believe it or Not: Smoking in the Library?

Student with pipe in Georgetown Law Library

Forget soda cans, noisy snacks, and aromatic carryout in the library – how about a late-night study buddy lighting up a stogie in the carrel behind you?

In 2012, it would be pretty much unthinkable (not to mention illegal*) to allow smoking anywhere inside the Georgetown Law Library. However, a new exhibit in the Williams Library highlights a time when cigarettes, pipes, and other types of tobacco were actually welcome within the library and Law Center, as elsewhere throughout society.

Stop by the Williams atrium display cases for some photos and facts that just might “blow” your mind. And remember, the only smoking allowed (and encouraged!) around here nowadays is of your exams – best of luck!

*D.C. Code § 7-1703(4) (2001).

Symposium: Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information, Wed. 1/30

Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information, A Symposium in Celebration of 125 Years, Wed. 1/30 at Georgetown Law

In celebration of 125 years, the Georgetown Law Library looks to the future with a symposium of the academic, advocacy, government, and library communities on Wednesday, January 30 at Georgetown Law.

“Big data” is a term perhaps too narrow for the topic: The size of data sets is not the key to big data issues. Rather, it’s the changes in society that are growing along with our ability to discover meaning by connecting points of information electronically, across numerous, vast, and often unrelated stores of data.

This conference will examine the public good and collective harms associated with the large-scale aggregation of information from public and private sources. During the course of the day, panelists will also discuss how scholars, researchers, and information professionals use very large or complex data sets to distill meaning and develop public policy.

Registration is free and open to all. A complimentary lunch will be provided for registered attendees, however space is limited. Register now to reserve your place and view additional information at

The House I Live In Bibliography

The House I Live In poster

Last night the Friends of the Law Library, the Georgetown chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, the Georgetown Criminal Law Association, Georgetown Human Rights Action–Amnesty International, and Human Rights First hosted a screening of the film The House I Live In along with lively a Q & A with filmmaker Eugene Jarecki.

As a follow-up, here is a bibliography of related resources.

Reviews for The House I Live In:


News Articles:

Law Review Articles & Book Chapters:

Non-Law Scholarship:

Foreign Scholarship: