Crossing Borders in the Classroom: A Comparative Law Experiment in Family Law
University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law
J. Thomas Oldham
University of Houston Law Center
Barbara Ann Atwood
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law
Graciela Jasa Silveira
University of Sonora; Faculty of Law, McGill University
April 5, 2011
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 55, pp. 542-559, 2006
What if law students in Mexico could talk to law students in Canada about same-sex marriage? What if law students in Texas could talk to law students in Arizona about the enforcement of agreements between cohabitants? What if all of these students could converse about the law’s response to domestic violence? These were some of the questions that family law professors tossed around at a curriculum development workshop sponsored by the North American Consortium of Legal Education (NACLE) in 2001. That first discussion led to the development of an experimental cross-border course which has been offered to American, Canadian, and Mexican law students since 2003. This article describes the development of the NACLE Family Law Module. By focusing on the experience of students and teachers during the three semesters in which the NACLE cross-border course has been offered, we will bring out the pedagogical value of cross-border teaching for law students and faculty, and examine the benefits and challenges of teaching across national boundaries. Finally, the review of our experience helps identify some implications for future iterations of the course.
Date posted: April 8, 2011
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