The overall concept of the ALF project is the transferral of foundational legal knowledge that will ensure a solid basis for allowing BGL to sharply increase its reputation, presence, and overall success in international academy. The project aims to transfer foundational knowledge about i) three foundational pillars on the knowledge of law – logic of law, language of law, and law and practical rationality; ii) three foundational pillars on the knowledge of administration, logistics, and international institutional presence: project management and coordination, a specialised project office, and networking and dissemination; and iii) one foundational pillar on the autonomous development of further academic knowledge.
(A) Why is academic knowledge regarding logic, language, and practical rationality foundational in law? Lawyers conceive law as a coherent system of legal norms. The relations between discrete parts of this system are developed in legal practice and perceived in social relations as a real and palpable force of social stability as well as social change. However, the social impact of law is predicated on the understanding of the logical nature and logical relations between the rules of the system, the linguistic expression of legal norms as well as on reasoning with the norms in specific, legally regulated social situations. Logic is foundational both for the theoretical and scientific knowledge about law as well as for reasoning with legal rules for the purpose of their application by courts, administration, legislation, and lawyers in general. Logic allows legal science and general jurisprudence to account for the nature of legal norms, their relations, conflicts and structures their relations. Knowledge of logic is also a necessary precondition for making valid inferences about possible legal solutions to problems arising in drafting legal acts, interpreting law, and applying law to social relations. Language is foundational in law because the law itself is essentially a linguistic phenomenon with characteristics and dynamics. Law can be conceived as prescriptive discourse –that is, a sequence of mainly prescriptive statements– originated in normative authorities of some kind; legal phenomena themselves are both constituted and known by means of language; and the authoritative determination about content and effects of that discourse has consequences of utmost importance for any person. Thus, knowledge of language is one foundation stone of any knowledge of law, be it basic or advanced, general, or specialised. Practical rationality is of foundational importance to general jurisprudence in a variety of ways, e.g., in virtue of its relationship to questions regarding authority and the force of law, as well as issues relating to the general nature of legal obligation. Practical rationality also plays a foundational role in special jurisprudence, particularly in relation to questions of legal responsibility in criminal law and tort law, and in relation to the nature of our obligations under contract law. For these reasons, solid and extended knowledge of foundational key topics of law is paramount for any successful academic enterprise, especially innovative ones. However, even though Belgrade is strong in some topics regarding the law (like international law), that is not the case regarding these most foundational ones (see 2.1). ALF project will help Belgrade to considerably strengthen its ongoing research on those fundamental topics; and to autonomously develop and pursue new paths and key topics of research that will potentially place Belgrade as a main (or the main) research institution in Europe and worldwide.
(B) Why is administrative and logistic knowledge regarding project management and coordination, and networking and dissemination foundational for any modern university? Knowledge about project management and coordination is foundational for developing and maintaining research within a field of study and attract young researchers and students to work within the field of study. In the last decade some BGL scholars have been working on establishing an international presence by making use of alternative forms of academic organization. In this sense the Serbian section of the International Association for Legal and Social Philosophy, organized as an NGO and lead by BGL scholars has been acting as a central hub for organizing international events, conferences lectures and seminars. These forms of academic exchange and knowledge transfer haven’t been, for the most part, institutionally and financially backed by BLG. One of the reasons for the lack of consolidation of research and teaching in the topics of legal fundamentals and related topics is the lack of organized funding and institutional organizational support for activities of the teaching staff of the Department for legal theory, sociology, and philosophy of law. The organizational support both in terms of following project calls, project application and administration are a prerequisite for doing focused work in a field with adequate financial and organizational support that would allow for fundamental legal knowledge to be an exclusive topic of research, integrated in the present curricula and a basis for new curricula development, and for research projects advancing the role of legal fundamentals in legal practice. Knowledge about networking and dissemination is foundational because they allow for presentation of scientific results, communication between institutions regarding research and teaching and the exchange of research results, opinions, arguments between universities on the international level. For these reasons, solid administrative and logistic knowledge paired with strong and established specialised offices are paramount for any well-known, well-connected, and successfully funded modern university. However, Belgrade does not have any specialised office with specific competences neither in project management and coordination nor in networking and dissemination, especially regarding project and initiatives within the European area (see point 2.2.1).
(C) Why is autonomous development of further academic knowledge foundational? Finally, academic knowledge exchanges are often single or multiple events that inspire development of research on the recipient institution but are unable to maintain academic development in areas of interest. A well thought out knowledge transfer that includes development of academic careers of senior and young scholars, establishes new organizational forms for doing research and applies research in developing teaching curricula allows for autonomous development of academic knowledge on the recipient institution. On the one hand, this gives the institution a serious opportunity to carry out research, publish research, and make its presence visible in the international community. On the other hand, autonomous development of curricula based on up-to-date academic knowledge leads to the possibility of infusing legal practice with much needed modalities of improving and developing.
The overall methodology of the ALF project is based on activities aiming to transferral of academic and administrative/logistic knowledge from Partner Institutions to Belgrade, as well as to integrate BGL solidly and permanently in the Partner Institutions’ vast European and international network, and to set the foundations for Belgrade to start carrying out autonomous and innovative research. The following proposed methodology will enable ALF project to: 1) Transferring academic knowledge from the Partner Institutions to Belgrade through exchange of people, allowing participation in joint research, etc. (WP3, WP4, WP5); 2) Transferring administrative knowledge from the Partner Institutions to Belgrade through exchange of people, involvement of Belgrade in the organisation of international academic activities, help in the creation of PAO, etc. (WP1, WP2); 3) Helping Belgrade establish and lead an innovative joint research project to further advance the transferred knowledge (WP6); and 4) Giving Belgrade all the necessary tools to successfully carry out any research of its choice (including way to win funds and project approvals) and, thus, to securely positioning itself within the European network of academic excellence institutions (WP2-WP5, WP7); and). Thus, the project is articulated in seven WPs divided in three main categories: (A) transferral (and further autonomous development) of foundational administrative and logistic knowledge; (B) transferral (and further autonomous development) of foundational academic knowledge; and (C) further (mainly) autonomous development of innovative academic knowledge.
(A) Transferral (and further autonomous development) of foundational administrative and logistic knowledge. ALF project fully dedicates three interrelated WPs to the transferral of administrative and logistic knowledge: “Project Management and Coordination” (WP1); “Administrative Capacity Building, Project Administration Office and Centre for Legal Fundamentals” (WP2); and “Networking and Dissemination” (WP7). All three WPs will be led by ALF project’s main beneficiary, Belgrade, with continuous input and/or participation from the Partner Institutions. WP1 is dedicated to the management and coordination of all parts of the project to ensure high qualitative standards of transfer and development of knowledge are met. The main measures will consist in: (1) strict technical management and coordination [T.1.1]; (2) strict financial and administrative management [T.1.2]; (3) securing fluid coordination and governance [T.1.3]; (4) periodical consortium meetings [T.1.4]; and (5) periodical overall evaluation [T.1.5]. WP2 is dedicated to: 1) the administrative knowledge transfer and capacity building; the 1) creation, establishing, and developing of a Project Administration Office within BGL; and 3) the creation and establishing a research Centre for Legal Fundamentals. This will be by fully utilising the experience and best practices of ICJP/FDUL, UniGe, and US. As such, this WP will fill the gap to raise the bar for excellence of all R&I actors in these countries by the end of the project and beyond. WP7 is dedicated to networking and dissemination of both activities and results of every part of the ALF Project, including the innovative research project (see WP6). This WP sets out a diverse and extended array of formal and informal dissemination strategies aiming to reaching both specific stakeholders from every WP, general stakeholders from the Western Balkan region, and the public. The main measures will consist in: (1) the creation of the ALF Platform [T.7.5]; (2) Social Network Presence [T.7.6]; and (3) the organisation of an International Final Conference in Belgrade [T.7.8] (for ALF’s full networking and dissemination plan, see point 2.2).
(B) Transferral (and further autonomous development) of academic knowledge. Regarding the transferral of academic knowledge, ALF project fully dedicates three WPs: “The Logic of Law” (WP3) – lead by ICJP/FDUL; “The Language of Law” (WP4) – lead by UniGe, and “Law and Practical Rationality” (WP5) – lead by US. Firstly, these WPs will be fully dedicated to gain a comprehensive overview on each of these topics and to assess the current state of art on the topics paying special attention to its development (or lack of) in Serbia and Western Balkans [T.3.1 to T.3.3; T.4.1 to T.4.3; T.5.1 to T.5.3]. Secondly, all these WPs will be fully dedicated to transfer Belgrade both basic and advanced knowledge on law and logic, language, and practical rationality and connected topics to allow Belgrade to deepen, expand and solidify its research and teaching capacities (see WP2) as well as to further (mainly) autonomous development of innovative academic knowledge (see WP6). Each one of these WPs will contain both training and research activities; in some cases, the same activity will be both a training and a researching one. These activities include expert visits and student seminars [T.3.4, T.4.4, T.5.4], collaborate research and publications [T.3.5, T.4.5, T.5.5], periodical meetings [T.3.6, T.4.6, T.5.6], and research visits to Lisbon, Genoa, and Surrey for Belgrade scholars as well as potentially visits to Belgrade for Partner Institution’s scholars [T.3.7, T.4.7, T.5.7]. Special activities are planned in each WPs: in WP3, a Logic of Law Summer School (T.3.9) and an International Conference on the Logic of Law in Lisbon (T.3.10); in WP4, an International Conference on the Language of Law in Genoa (T.4.9); and, in WP5, two intensive 6-speaker Law and Practical Rationality Workshops in Surrey and Belgrade (T.5.9-10). To allow for maximum impact for non-Belgrade affiliated and non-Partner Affiliated stakeholders, all these three WPs will offer blog posts and short video lessons (at least, in Serbian and English) based on the outputs, events, and activities of each WP [D.3.6, D.4.5, D.5.5]. Moreover, each one of these three WPs will be led by the one Partner Institution which is most generally specialised on the topic, even though highly specialised researchers from other Partner Institutions will also participate in the activities of the WP of their specialisation.
(C) Further (mainly) autonomous development of innovative academic knowledge: Finally, regarding the further (autonomous) development of academic knowledge, ALF project fully dedicates WP6: “Research project: ‘Practically orientated legal fundamentals’”. Lead by Belgrade, this WP is dedicated to the creation and development of a joint research project within the area of the foundations of law. The aim of the project is twofold. First, this research project aims to build on and further the academic knowledge obtained from WP3, WP4 and WP5 by focusing on the importance of legal fundamentals for legal practice and thus contributing to close the deep gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application in law. Secondly, as it will be conducted by young researchers each supervised by a team of one experienced scholar from Belgrade and one experienced scholar from a partner institution, this research project aims to provide them academic, scientific, and financial support, as well as the best changes to publish internationally, and the best opportunities to cooperate with other Serbian, EU, and international young scholars. Thus, WP6 will formulate the research project documentation [T.6.1], create one open postdoc position in Belgrade [T.6.2], as well as create a special team of selected Serbian and international young scholars to undertake the research [T.6.3]. The research activities will take place in the project office within the Centre for Legal Fundamentals [T.6.4] under the supervision by teams of two supervisors, one from Belgrade and the other from another partner institution [T.6.5] and will foster collaboration in research and the development of papers to be published in internationally renowned scientific journals [T.6.6]. The results of the research project will be shared through at least one young scholar conference on legal fundamentals and practical implications for legal practice will be held at Belgrade [T.6.7] and an edited volume or special issue of a journal [D.6.6]. Moreover, dissemination of the provisional and results of the research project will be otherwise guaranteed through the channels the ALF project will establish for general dissemination, exploitation, and communication (see point 2.3 and WP7).
For ALF Project open science practices include 1) providing open access to research outputs (publications and any other relevant research result and development); and 2) involving relevant knowledge actors (not only Belgrade affiliated and/or scholars, but also jurists in a wide sense, some scientific communities, and civil society) in the creation, development, and update of some parts of the ALF Project research agenda and contents. For a detailed plan about 1), see point 2.2.1, particularly point C).1 (“Scientific Publications”), point C).5&6 (“Blog post and short video lessons”), and point D).3 (“Compliance”). For a detailed plan about 2), see point 2.2 and point 3.1 (WP7).