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Jacobs, Melanie B.
Senior Associate Dean and Chief of Staff, and Professor of Law

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Dean Jacobs joined the Michigan State University College of Law faculty in 2002. She is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in family law. Specifically, her scholarship advocates for legal recognition of non-traditional families and changes to the traditional establishment of parent-child relationships due to the increased use of assisted reproductive technologies. Dean Jacobs has argued in favor of preserving nonbiological parental relationships to foster the best interests of children as well as recognizing more than two legal parents in certain circumstances. Her work has been featured in nearly a dozen law reviews including the Buffalo Law Review, Arizona State Law Journal, and Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. Her current research and scholarship explores the link between procreative autonomy and intentional parenthood. Dean Jacobs is part of the Feminists Judgments Project in which she has submissions in both Reproductive Justice Rewritten and Family Law Rewritten (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).

Dean Jacobs teaches courses in Child, Family & the State, Trusts & Estates, and a seminar in Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law. Dean Jacobs is the 2018 recipient of the Donald F. Campbell Outstanding Teaching Award and was awarded an MSU Lilly Teaching Fellowship in 2006-2007 in recognition of her teaching. Previous to MSU, Dean Jacobs served as a Freedman Fellow and a lecturer in law at Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her additional teaching experience includes two years as a clinical instructor for the Hale & Dorr Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School in Boston, Massachusetts and as an adjunct instructor at the Boston University School of Law.

She also serves as the Senior Associate Dean & Chief of Staff, managing a broad administrative portfolio. In 2016-2017, Dean Jacobs was a participant in the Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Fellows Program. She serves on numerous advisory committees at MSU and is the former Chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Family & Juvenile Law Section.

Dean Jacobs received her A.B. from Columbia College in New York City, her J.D. from Boston University, and her LL.M. from Temple University. She is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

About RCGV

MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence faculty and staff are dedicated to research and outreach initiatives related to ending and preventing gender-based violence and improving the community response to survivors. RCGV faculty are committed to mentoring the next generation of gender-based violence researchers by providing substantial educational and employment opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant and widespread social problem internationally, devastating adults, children, families and societies across the globe. It includes any form of harm that is both a consequence and cause of gender power inequities. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, economic, or sociocultural, and includes but is not limited to sexual abuse, rape, intimate partner abuse, incest, sexual harassment, stalking, femicide, trafficking, gendered hate crimes and dowry abuse. Gender-based violence intersects with race-based, class-based or religiously oppressive forms of abuse, and cross-cuts many other social problems (e.g., poverty, substance abuse, mental and physical health, crime).


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