Scholar Jud Mathews brings suspense to the classroom

If an Administrative Law class sometimes feels like an episode of the hit TV series "LOST," it’s no accident.

“Students learn best when they want to figure out what’s going on, and why,” said Jud Mathews, who joined the Penn State Dickinson School of Law faculty this summer. “I think of each class as presenting a legal puzzle that the students and I solve together, over the course of an hour. Often, the answer opens up a new question, which we tackle next class.”

Mathews adds that his teaching differs from "LOST" in important ways. “At the end of the semester, I promise the course hangs together a lot better than the last season of 'LOST' did.”

Mathews’ research in administrative law focuses on interactions between agencies and courts. Mathews is finishing a doctorate in political science from Yale, and he uses the tools and perspectives from political science in his work. His most recent article, about how judicial deference doctrines shape agency interpretations of statutes, appeared this summer in the Texas Law Review.

He also works in the area of comparative constitutional law. Together with Yale professor Alec Stone Sweet, he has written two articles on proportionality analysis, a technique for approaching constitutional rights claims that has been widely adopted internationally. Those articles were translated into Spanish and published this summer as a book for the Latin American legal market.

Prior to joining Penn State Law, Mathews was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, where he taught classes in administrative law and constitutional law. After graduating from Yale Law School, he clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Calabresi had been Mathews’ torts professor at Yale, and his teaching style made an impression.

“He has this ability to communicate enthusiasm for torts. I think one key to good teaching is conveying to students what it is that excites you about a subject,” he said.

Mathews says he “couldn’t be more excited to be at Penn State.” As the parents to 5-year-old twins, he and his wife Kim know a college town is a great place to raise children. He also appreciates the Law School’s connection to the School of International Affairs because of the ties his research has to comparative and international law.

Mathews will teach Civil Procedure this fall and Administrative Law in the spring.

Last Updated July 10, 2013