Leah Trueblood

Leah TruebloodPlease tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up on a small family grain farm near a hamlet of 11 people in Dapp, Alberta, Canada. The winters can be long. At home it’s at least -20C, often as cold as -30C, from Halloween until Easter. I completed a philosophy degree at the University of Alberta and a law degree at the LSE before coming to Oxford for my M.St. and D.Phil. I currently live with my partner Peter, who is a British astrophysicist, in Bicester.

What led you to a career in academia?

I love ideas. I strongly agree with Isaiah Berlin, when he quotes the poet Heine, to say:

'Over a hundred years ago, the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor's study could destroy a civilisation' - Isaiah Berlin, ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ 1958.

What are your research interests and why have you chosen those particular areas?

I work principally on referendums. Referendums are interesting and legally significant in themselves, but also raise lots of tricky questions about the nature of democratic constitutions. I’m very excited about the recent referendums in Chile, and so reading as much about them as I can.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a piece that argues against the idea that referendums can be exercises in constitutional authorship. It being week five, though, I’m also preparing to teach tutorials in Constitutional law for Mods next week.

What is the best thing about living/working in Oxford?

The best thing about working in Oxford is the people, both my students and colleagues. I have taught at other universities, but what is special about Oxford is seeing students’ writing improve over the course of the term. My colleagues at Worcester, the Bonavero, and in constitutional and political theory are all a delight. It’s also wonderful to work in such a large Faculty with so many brilliant colleagues. I appreciate especially that the Faculty is diverse in membership, and methodology, I feel very fortunate to be here.

Who inspires you or has inspired you in the past?

Each generation has to justify democracy for itself, and to try to understand democracy’s relationship(s) with law. Every day that I think about those questions, and discuss them with students and colleagues, is fun and worthwhile.