Sunday, September 28, 2014

UA Law Professor Teaches Comparative Constitutional Law in Lithuania

In late May and early June, Professor Howard Brill traveled to Vytautus Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania to teach Comparative Constitutional Law to 50 Lithuanian law students. The topics covered in the course included the War Against Terror (including the use of drones and targeted killings), Comparative Free Speech, Comparative Religious Freedom (including the ban on religious clothing worn by women in Western Europe), the protection of minority rights (including the Roma in Europe), and secession from the nation (including Quebec, Crimea, and Scotland).

Upon completion of the program, Professor Brill commented, “all students in Lithuania now begin learning English at an early grade, unlike their parents who learned Russian. Vytautus Magnus University is a new institution. The faculty of law has created a program drawing upon American experiences. I found the students eager to learn, interested in different teaching and learning styles, and most knowledgeable about the world.”

With a population of 3 million, Lithuania is approximately half the size of Arkansas. Though it gained independence after World War I, Lithuania was occupied first by the Germans at the beginning of World War II, then by the Soviets after the liberation. Lithuania remained a part of the Soviet Union until March 1990, when it again declared its independence. Since that time, a democratic Lithuania has sought closer ties with the West, joining both NATO and the European Union.

Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, has long been a leading center of economic, academic, and cultural activity. It sits at the confluence of Lithuania’s two largest rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, and is about one hour away from the capital of Vilnius. It was founded in the 11th century and joined the Hanseatic League in the 15th century. Napoleon passed through the city both during his invasion of, and his eventual retreat from, Russia. In addition to this rich history, Kaunas is also famous for its basketball team, Zalgiris.

While in Kaunas, Professor Brill spoke at an International Conference on Legal Ethics, sponsored by Vytautus Magnus University. The speakers were from Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Belgium, and the United States. Professor Brill’s topic was teaching methods for Professional Responsibility: the use of role playing, actual cases, and movies.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Inaugural Russia Law Summer Program a Success

Law students Austin Lucas, Benjamin Mackey, Christina Cole, Cristen Handley, Jacob Kerksieck, Kaylyn Turner, Maria Korzendorfer and Nick Stallings all took part in the first ever Russia Law Summer Program, which included two weeks of classes in Fayetteville and eight nights in St. Petersburg. As part of the program, students were required to write on subjects pertaining to Russian Literature, Cinema, and Culture, and attend a variety of lectures addressing topics such as The Russian Constitution, The Russian Legal System, Comparative Religious Freedom, Secession and Breakup of Nations, Russian Civilizations and Cultural Dimensions, and Human Rights. Upon completion of the course, each student earned two hours of ungraded credit.

While in St. Petersburg, the students stayed in a dormitory in the heart of the city, operated by the St. Petersburg University of Finance and Economics, and visited the legal department of INTRATOOL, an oil and gas company, as well as DCO, LLC; a legal consulting firm. In addition to their studies, the students were able to take a boat trip on the Neva River and canals, visit both Catherine Palace and Alexander Palace, tour The State Hermitage Museum, and attend a performance of Swan Lake at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory.

Faculty and students agree that the program exceed all expectations, and efforts are being made to repeat the program in 2015.