Southeast Alumnus Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School

spotlight_chrisrobertsonDr. Christopher Robertson earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy while at Southeast Missouri State University. He went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and a law degree from Harvard Law School. His intentions were always to teach law, however, he practiced for one year before accepting a fellowship at Harvard that helped prepare him for the academic world of teaching.

Currently, he is an associate professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, and a research associate at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethic Studies, Harvard University. He continues to consult on cases and often applies what he learns from those cases in the classroom. During the 2013-2014 school year, Christopher will be a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.

“I love the chance to blend my research and practice, applying what I learn in each to the other, and bringing it all into the classroom for my students. For example, each year I start my class by going through the slides I developed for the closing arguments in my first trial, and then use that case as a running example throughout the course,” Christopher said.

His research has been published in several notable journals, including Cornell Law Review and NYU Law Review. Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine published his findings on the pharmaceutical industry’s role in biomedical science.

“We spent three years on the project that culminated in publication in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, and it was very fulfilling to know that our work would get nationwide exposure and really contribute to the debate about the pharmaceutical industry’s role in biomedical science and the problem of runaway healthcare costs. In my view, all these problems go back to questions of whether physicians can rely upon the science they read. Our study revealed that physicians are becoming skeptical of industry science. I love that I get to work at the intersection of philosophy, law and science.”

He is frequently asked to partner on projects and says applying the knowledge he learned at Southeast has helped him excel. Christopher says his mentors and instructors at Southeast were vital in his academic and personal accomplishments.

“My professors encouraged me to think beyond any one intellectual discipline. For example, I remember a course political science Professor Russ Renka and communication Professor Tom Harte taught on the ‘American Presidency,’” he said. “I also remember Dean John Hinni always emphasizing the value of lifelong learning, which still motivates me today.”

Christopher says students should appreciate the opportunity to gain knowledge.

“Focus on developing skills, and worry less about memorizing this or that fact or doctrine, which you are likely to forget in a few years and can Google when you need it,” he says. “Regardless of your career field, you will benefit from classes in logic and critical thinking, and classes that include extensive and realistic writing opportunities with lots of constructive feedback. And, be sure to have some fun.”

Christopher lives in Tucson, Ariz., with his wife, Jamie, and daughter, Sophia.