Five teams of J.D., LL.M., M.S.L., and Graduate Certificate in International Law students spent Saturday endeavoring to solve the global problem of what to do about the debris – that is, junk – which litters outer space. The day-long “Space Junk Hackathon” was hosted by the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center. It brought to a close an innovative Spring 2023 international law course taught by Professor Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, the law school’s Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor.
As detailed in prior posts here and here, this course began with a Space Law Speaker Series featuring, over the course of January and February, presentations by four expert academics and practitioners: Christopher Johnson, Tanja Masson-Zwaan, Cris van Eijk, and Kathleen Doty.
At Saturday’s hackathon, Professor Durkee reviewed with students aspects of the space junk problem, as described by the series of speakers. She noted the inadequacy of existing international and domestic regulations – among them, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which was signed on behalf of the United States by then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk, our Center’s namesake.
Having recapped the problem, Durkee told students, “Your task is to solve it!”, by devising law or policy interventions. The star-named student teams, Antares, Polaris, Rigel, Sirius, and Vega, then decamped to breakout rooms and went to work.
At day’s end, the teams presented their proposals before three judges: Professor Durkee, Georgia Law Professor Christian Turner, and Jackson Tilley, Ph.D. candidate at our university’s School of Public & International Affairs. All students were praised for their creative interventions. Team Polaris, comprising Alma Bajramović, Kyle Renner, Bobby Dong, and Nishka Malik, was named the strongest.
Assisting with administration as part of their work on Georgia Law’s Graduate Certificate in International Law – for which this was a required course – were the staff members of our Center’s Global Practice Preparation portfolio, Sarah Quinn and Catrina Martin.