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European Legal Education, or: How to Prepare Students for Global Citizenship?

The Law Teacher, Vol. 45, pp. 163-180, 2011

Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) Working Paper No. 2011/02

17 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2010 Last revised: 16 Dec 2012

Jan M. Smits

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI)

Date Written: December 2, 2010

Abstract

Legal education is gradually moving away from the teaching of national law towards a more European, transnational, or even ‘global’ way of teaching. This paper seeks to explain why an international legal education is to be preferred to a national curriculum and what this means for how law is taught and how law schools are ideally organised. The arguments for an international legal education lie in the increasing plurality of legal sources, the desire to attract students from a larger pool, and the need to give students not only a specialised professional training but also to prepare them for global citizenship. It is claimed students should be exposed to alternative ways of achieving justice, thus creating a dialogue with otherness. This can be done by a focus on the arguments behind the choices made by the relevant authorities and not on the doctrinal intricacies of national legal systems.

This type of international curriculum, in which competing conceptions of justice are at the centre of attention, requires a specific teaching method. Two methods seem best suited to allow students to construct their own understanding of legal problems: problem-based learning (PBL) and the Socratic method. In addition, teaching law in an international setting forces us to think through the sequence in which the various jurisdictions come to the fore, the assessment of students and the use of teaching materials and language of instruction. Also discussed are the challenges for the law school as a whole, such as the relationship between teaching and research, the recruitment of faculty and the decreasing relevance of the traditional departmental structure.

Keywords: Legal Education, European Law School, Socratic Method, Problem-Based Learning

Suggested Citation

Smits, Jan M., European Legal Education, or: How to Prepare Students for Global Citizenship? (December 2, 2010). Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) Working Paper No. 2011/02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1719118 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1719118

Jan M. Smits (Contact Author)

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, NL-6200 MD
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.jansmits.eu

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