Howard University Professor AJ Link is passionate about advocating for Black students’ involvement in his lesser-known field of expertise: Space Law.
In honor of World Space Week, conducted in early October, Link shared how he is preparing the next generation of Black Space Law professionals to insure that diversity is in and out of this world.
Space law entails the legal framework that governs activities related to outer space. Similar to general international law, it includes a range of international agreements, treaties, conventions, United Nations General Assembly resolutions, and regulations established by international organizations.
After discovering a course in the subject as a first-year student at George Washington Law School, Link went on to receive his own LLM, or Master of Laws, in space law, from one of the two law schools that offer the unique degree, the University of Mississippi.
“With the lack of options and access to space law as a field of study for J.D. students, and legal professionals seeking an LLM, it’s no wonder that the space law community is lacking anything close to adequate representation of Black folks in the profession,” he wrote in an essay for Howard’s The Dig.
Upon completing his education and noticing he was one of few Black people to do so, Link returned to D.C. to teach the first-ever course on space law at Howard University Law School (HUSL). The professor is now ensuring that access is given to Black people who are interested in this realm of space outside of STEM-subjects such as astrophysics or aerospace engineering.
He especially noticed this gap during events for Black Space Week, where the number of Black space lawyers was particularly meager. However, his addition to the HUSL’s faculty will ensure that at least one HBCU in the country is able to teach students about the Black letter law of international space treaties, as well as the space policy in the U.S.
As new groups, such as BlackInAstro, advocate for diversity in the stars, these growing programs will seek to provide opportunity and spark passion for this evolving field that will become more prominent as space activity advances.
Link’s inclusion at Howard’s law program aims to make the HBCU a “premier space law institution,” as well as one that champions the next generation of Black space law experts.
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