Heather Johnson

Heather JohnsonAdjunct Professor
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 368
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    Professor Johnson’s broad scholarly interests lie in gender, sexuality, law, and education. Johnson employs an interdisciplinary research approach, drawing on an array of methodologies to study leadership and organizational development to aid in creating laws and policies that promote equity. Samples of Heather’s recent work, a longitudinal study on The Gender and Racial Diversity of Louisiana’s Judges 1992-2017, published by the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University. This study analyzed twenty-five years of data on the gender, race, and political affiliation of every elected judge in Louisiana, culminating in a report and report launch event. The report launch was done in collaboration with Tulane Law School, The American Constitution Society, The Supreme Court of Louisiana, and members of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In conjunction with the American Council on Education, Professor Johnson authored a report, “Pipelines, Pathways, and Institutional Leadership: An Update on the Status of Women on Higher Education,” which gained national attention in USA Today, Inside HigherEd, and Politico. Johnson’s research has also appeared in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk and the Journal of Experiential Education. Heather completed her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago, where they studied Law, Letters, and Society as well as Psychology. They also hold a Master of Science in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from the Anna Freud Centre at the University College London and a Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law. Heather is a doctoral candidate completing dual postgraduate degrees in Education Policy and Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University.Professor Johnson is particularly passionate about working with students who are interested in gender, sexuality, and advocacy. As a Law Student as MSU Law Professor Johnson created the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition Team and Class and has served as a coach for the team for over a decade. In 2022, Johnson directed the first National Gender and Sexuality Moot Court Competition hosted by MSU Law to create an online Moot Court opportunity for law students around the country to have an opportunity to engage in research, writing, and advocacy on a current issue in gender, sexuality, and the law.

  • Degrees

    Doctoral Candidate, Michigan State University, College of Education; J.D. Michigan State University College of Law; M.Sc. University College London; A.B. University of Chicago

  • Courses

    Higher Education Law & Policy
    Forty years ago, a handful of large institutions of higher education had in-house legal staff. Now all but the smallest schools do. However, in modern higher education, few major decisions are made without considering the layered set of statutes, regulations, case law, and institutional rules implemented to limit and address the legal consequences. The course will provide the history of higher education law, an overview of legal governance in higher education and how to weigh and balance the often-competing rights and responsibilities of institutions, faculty, staff, and students. Examples include: the tension between academic freedom and tenure; using affirmative action to create a diverse campus; creating an equitable and inclusive campus while also promoting free speech or the right to carry a weapon; and legal compliance Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Title IX; to name a few. The course will examine topics from a variety of perspectives to inform those who desire a role in general law practice, policy making, in-house university counsel, higher education administration, or as a member of the faculty.

    Law and Gender
    This course will focus on Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Law. The seminar will explore privacy, the regulation of sexual activity, marriage, religious exemptions, employment discrimination, education, and legal theory. Students will be encouraged to examine law and sexuality in the context of constitutional and statutory protections and limitations that could inform multiple areas of study or work on behalf of LGBTQ clients in the future. This semester long course meets once per week and will require regular class participation, an oral argument, and a final paper or appellate brief.