Friday, June 28, 2013

Immigration Overhaul and Higher Education

By Cory Weinberg


The U.S. Senate passed a monumental bill to overhaul immigration law on Thursday that higher-education leaders hailed as giving foreign-born graduate students unprecedented access to green cards, a provision that research universities said would help them compete for top talent by giving the students greater certainty of landing jobs after they graduate.

The bipartisan bill, which passed, 68 to 32, with 14 Republicans voting in favor, also would provide a gateway to college for 650,000 young people, known as "dreamers," who were brought to the United States illegally as children. Under the bill, they would be eligible to receive federal student aid and to petition for citizenship five years after graduating from high school and completing some college or military service.

Although the bill, S 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, is viewed as unlikely to pass in the House of Representatives, it is widely considered a win for higher education.

Foreigners who earned Ph.D.'s at American universities would be eligible for green cards, while foreign students who completed master's degrees or Ph.D.'s in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (the STEM fields) could petition for a card.

"The real game changer in the bill for universities is in the green-card section, where advanced-degree graduates for STEM fields have green cards stapled to their diplomas," said Craig Lindwarm, assistant director for international issues and Congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Through an amendment passed on the Senate floor, the bill would also keep colleges exempt from the national cap on H-1B visas, allowing them to temporarily employ researchers who are not citizens. It also would cut and limit student-visa fees.

In a letter on Wednesday urging the Senate to pass the bill, the heads of 14 higher-education associations heralded the legislation's benefits for "dreamer" students, writing that it would serve "our long-term economic growth by providing these young people a way out of the shadows and into our work force."

Steven M. Bloom, director of federal relations at the American Council on Education, lauded the bipartisan nature of the bill—which was crafted by four Republicans and four Democrats, known as the Gang of Eight—and said major research universities and community colleges especially had reasons to applaud.

"To tell you the truth, there was never huge things we were really concerned about, whether it was H-1B or green cards or Dream Act. These weren't incredibly difficult things to push across the finish line," Mr. Bloom said.

Higher-education lobbyists drew support from businesses in Silicon Valley as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which pushed to expand citizenship eligibility for high-skilled workers.

Though the House is expected to draft its own bill instead of taking up the Senate's, Mr. Bloom said the higher-education provisions were mostly uncontroversial in that chamber as well. The Senate bill also would strengthen border security and provide a 13-year pathway to citizenship for most immigrants in the United States illegally. Republicans in the House have resisted the latter provision.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

LL.M. Professors Lecture in Korea

This is a repost of a blog written by Professor Susan Schneider. You may view the original post here.

From June 15-21, Professors Christopher Kelley and Susan Schneider visited Korea on a trip sponsored by Yeungnam University Law School in Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea.

We are proud to have a University of Arkansas alumnus serving as Dean of the YU Law School. Dean Taehuan Keum received his LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2011.

In 2013, the University of Arkansas School of Law signed a cooperative agreement with YU Law School, and Professors Kelley and Schneider's trip was our first coordinated visit, followed closely by a visit to Fayetteville by two Korean law students and a YU Professor.

Korea’s educational system only moved to adopt a U.S. style professional law school system in 2007. In a highly competitive environment, the government selected only 25 universities to offer the new law programs. YU was one of those selected and built a beautiful new law school building to house its law program.

Dean Keum shepherded the new program successfully through its first formal evaluation assessing its curriculum, faculty, facilities, and endowments. YU was pleased to receive excellent scores on this evaluation.

Dean Keum is also responsible for founding the Institute of Agricultural & Food Law at YU, and he now serves as its Director.

The Institute is based on the principle that the development of agriculture should be accompanied by the development of agricultural law. This Institute will consider how agricultural law supports and directs agricultural policy and how agriculture law is intertwined with food law. Its goal is to be at the center of  agricultural and food law in Korea.

Professors Kelley and Schneider’s visit to Korea included an invitation to speak at the Institute’s inaugural symposium, Conservation and Conversion of Farm Land from the Public Interest Perspective.

Professor Kelley delivered a lecture on conservation programs and sustainability challenges in U.S. agriculture, and Professor Schneider spoke on sustainability in agricultural practices and the role of agricultural law.

Throughout the trip, the professors were treated to traditional Korean cuisine and given lessons in the rich food culture of this beautiful country.

Dean Keum, his family, and the faculty at YU were gracious hosts. Dean Keum also arranged for meetings and an opportunity to lecture at Seoul National University, Dean Keum’s alma mater and a meeting with senior professors and the SNU Law School Dean.

It was a very productive trip, with the opportunity for the exchange of ideas on food systems, agricultural production, and legal culture.  And, it was an amazing opportunity to witness first hand the important work of one of our international LL.M. alumni.

Appreciation is extended to Dean Keum for this opportunity.

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 Institute of Legal Studies International Symposium Welcomes UA Law Professors

Next week Professors Susan A. Schneider and Christopher R. Kelley will travel to Yeungnam University in Seoul, S. Korea to participate in the 2013 Institute of Legal Studies International Symposium.   The Symposium will focus on conservation and conversion of farm land from the perspective of public interests. Symposium leaders Professor Hejung Kim, Director of Yeungnam University's Institute of Legal Studies and Professor Taehaun Keum , Director of the Yeungnam Institute for Korean Agricultural and Food Law hope that the event will be an opportunity to reflect upon the present and future of Korean and U.S. farm land.

This symposium also celebrates the creation of the Institute for Korean Agricultural and Food Law which was established by Yeungnam University School of Law in October of 2012. The institute will operate under the direction of LL.M. Alumnus Taehaun Keum who completed his Master of Laws in Agricultural and Food Law in 2011 at the University of Arkansas School of Law. We look forward to developing a collaborative relationship with Yeungnam University, and will be posting more information on the Symposium here in the near future.



Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Letter from Kazakhstan

University of Arkansas School of Law Professor Christopher Kelley recently traveled to Kazakhstan to teach three courses to students at Zhetysu State University. Kelley reflects on his experience in this Letter from Kazakhstan.

Dear Reader,

I write to you from Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan. The largest of the "stans," Kazakhstan extends from the Caspian Sea to China. To the north is Russia; to the south are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan dominates Central Asia – spin the Google Earth globe east, stay west of China, point your curser mid-continent, and Kazakhstan will appear before you.

Getting to Kazakhstan from Arkansas is not easy as spinning the Google Earth globe half-circle. Traveling from Fayetteville to Taldykorgan, with stops in Atlanta and Amsterdam followed by a three-hour drive from Almaty to Taldykorgan, took me about 40 sleepless hours. Eleven time zones separate Fayetteville and Taldykorgan. 

Yet, globalization being what it is, my seatmate from Amsterdam to Almaty was a law clerk for a federal magistrate in Illinois. He was traveling with his Kazakhstan-born wife to visit her family in Almaty and Astana. Globalization has its gaps, however. When their young son awoke from a nap asking for a bagel with peanut butter, my last Cliff bar was the closest substitute. KLM airliner galleys have yet to be stocked with bagels or peanut butter.

I am in Taldykorgan to teach for two weeks at the Zhetysu State University named after I. Zhansugurov. Professor Zhansugurov was killed at Stalin’s behest, a fate suffered by many other intellectuals during Stalin’s reign over the Soviet Union. During those years, Kazakhstan was a destination for exiles – Trotsky, Dostoyevsky, and Solzhenitsyn, for instance, were exiled to Kazakhstan. Later, Kazakhstan suffered more insidiously when it became the principal test site for Soviet nuclear weapons, and residents of an area known as The Polygon were used as human guinea pigs to assess the bomb blast’s effects on those nearby.

Today, Kazakhstan is a young nation, having declared its independence in 1991. Appropriately, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev is investing heavily in educating Kazakhstan’s youth. Indeed, I am here because of his initiative to bring foreign teachers to Kazakhstan and to send Kazakhstan students abroad to study. In addition to teaching here, I am the foreign dissertation adviser for two Zhetysu State University Ph.D. in Law candidates. This fall, these students – Daniya Nurmukhankyzy and Aigerim Ozenbayeva – will come to the University of Arkansas School of Law to research their dissertation topics and to observe our classes.

From my Zhetysu State University classroom, I can see the blue minarets of a large mosque, the snow-covered mountains that straddle Kazakhstan and China, and dozens of Soviet-era apartment buildings. Now with a population 100,000, Taldykorgan was on the verge of extinction until President Nazarbayev decided to make it the Almaty region’s administrative center. Mostly desert, the Almaty region is thinly populated outside of the city of Almaty. On this day, the air is gritty with wind-blown sand and powder-dry soil.

Like the students I have taught in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and Lithuania, the students here are at once conscious of their nation’sancient traditions; its decades as a part of the Soviet Union; its modern, international influences; and the continuing challenges of shaping a new society. They walk sidewalks where the remaining few and fading Soviet icons have been supplanted by ubiquitous signs touting the products of the world’s leading consumer brands – Coca-Cola, Adidas, Danone, Samsung, and the like. And while not immune to the lure of consumerism, most are committed to living in a way that makes a positive difference, implicitly if not explicitly recognizing they will opportunities and responsibilities that their parents did not.

The changes in the past twenty-five years in Eastern Europe and Eurasia have been profound. They have tested and will continue to test personal and institutional resilience and the robustness of values. Because of this, they offer insights for all of us, especially to lawyers interested in how the law and its institutions lead and respond to changes of all sorts. 
The casebooks we use in American legal education tell of changes in American and international law. Yet, necessarily, their accounts are brief; three sentences might transverse three or more decades. A better way to teach the interplay and interaction of time, events, and the law is to be in a place where change is accelerated, as its is in young, developing countries. Alongside of this better way is yet another – bringing students and faculty from new, transitional, and developing countries to the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Fortunately, the Law School is doing both. In the past two years, as part of a course, our students have traveled to Moldova and Belarus. This fall, others will travel to Ukraine. Indeed, when the next semester ends, several of our students will have traveled to Moldova and Belarus and to Belarus and Ukraine, places none of them thought they would be when they entered the Law School. 
And students from transitional and developing countries have come and continue to come to the Law School. The Law School’s Graduate Program in Agricultural and Food Law has attracted students from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Nigeria, Malawi, Ethiopia, and other transitional and developing countries. Our new Accelerated J.D. Program will include Nigerians in its first class this fall.

Combined, this is a change for the Law School — a valuable change, a change worth nurturing. And it is a change that reflects the Law School’s current skilled and energetic leadership, which has been remarkably supportive of new ideas and new ways of teaching at the Law School.
I am teaching three courses here in Taldykorgan – negotiation, legal writing in English, and agriculture and the environment. I have taught each of these courses before. Still, I have been asked questions here that I have never been asked before; I have used illustrative examples to explain concepts that I would not have thought of using had I not been teaching these students; and I have had to adapt to teaching across a wide range of English language skills. This has changed me in small, but significant ways. I have learned. And part of what I have learned is that I want to return to Kazakhstan. 

I wish you well in Arkansas. My students here wish you the same. Kazakhstan hospitality is legendary, for good reason. I am eager to introduce the two Kazakhstan Ph.D. students I am advising to Arkansas. I know they will learn from you, including from your gracious hospitality.

I wish you the best.

Christopher R. Kelley

Friday, June 7, 2013

Duke University Study Shows the benefits of international collaboration

This blog is a re-posting of an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. View the original article here:

Interacting With International Peers in College May Confer Lasting Benefits

By Karin Fischer

American students who interact more with their classmates from abroad don't just gain greater cultural awareness but also develop skills that benefit them after graduation, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University.

The study, which is described in an article published in the Journal of International Students, draws on data from comprehensive alumni surveys of some 5,675 former students from the 1985, 1995, and 2000 graduating classes of four highly selective private research universities. The surveys were administered in 2005, approximately five, 10, and 20 years after those classes graduated. (The institutions are part of a pre-existing research consortium and agreed to share survey data.)

As part of the surveys, alumni were asked a series of questions about the extent to which they had interacted with groups of fellow students while on campus, their level of involvement in certain academic and extracurricular activities, and how much their undergraduate institution had contributed to their development in 21 areas. Only the responses from former students who indicated they were American citizens were examined in the Duke researchers' analysis.

Over all, 67 percent of the respondents from the 1985 cohort reported having some or substantial interaction with classmates from overseas, while 75 percent from the Class of 1995 and 79 percent from the Class of 2000 said they did.

The researchers—David Jamieson-Drake, director of institutional research at Duke, and Jiali Luo, an assistant director of institutional research at the university—found that students who had substantial engagement with peers from abroad reported significantly higher levels of skills development in a variety of areas.

While some of those skills, such as speaking a foreign language or relating well to people from different racial, national, or religious backgrounds, would seem a natural result of greater cross-cultural exposure, other areas might be less expected. For instance, the analysis found that understanding the role of science and technology in society and synthesizing and integrating ideas and information both positively correlated with international interaction.

Alumni who had high levels of international engagement while in college were also more likely than their peers to question their own, and society's, beliefs.

Participating in cultural or ethnic clubs, having contact with faculty members out of the classroom, or taking courses outside the major were strong predictors of greater international interaction, the study found. By contrast, membership in a fraternity or sorority had a negative association with international engagement.

The researchers acknowledge that there are limits to the study: It relies on alumni's self-reported improvement in skills development, not on more-objective measures of student learning such as standardized-test scores, and experiences during the years since graduation could have affected the respondents' retrospective perceptions of their college education.

Mr. Jamieson-Drake is also quick to say that the study does not prove causation but rather that there is a "correlation with, a strong association with" international engagement and the development of certain skills. "It's a strongly contributing factor."

In recent years, American colleges have begun to enroll more international students, particularly at the undergraduate level, in part with the goal of providing domestic students with more diverse and cross-cultural experiences. But, as Mr. Luo and Mr. Jamieson-Drake note, there have been few empirical studies of the extent to which international students contribute to the cultural and intellectual life on American campuses from the perspective of domestic students.

Not only do their findings suggest there are real benefits, but they indicate there are actions colleges can take to foster international interaction, such as creating more interdisciplinary courses, urging faculty members to engage more with undergraduates, and encouraging students to expand their social networks beyond culturally homogenous groups, like fraternities and sororities.

"Institutions," Mr. Luo said, "can build bridges."