Being an International Law Lecturer in the 21st Century: Where Tradition Meets Innovation
Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 27, 2013
One means to bring about this desirable condition (settling international controversies without war) is to increase the general public knowledge of international rights and duties and to promote a popular habit of reading and thinking about international affairs.
US Secretary of State Elihu Root published this call for education of the public in matters of international law on the first page of the first issue of the American Journal of International Law – and it remains as important today as it did in 1907. This paper examines the legal tradition of teaching and researching international law at universities all over the world, in order to achieve two main goals.
Firstly, this paper maps diverse national and regional legal traditions in teaching and researching international law. For example, what topics are addressed for which target audience? Who teaches international law in preparation for which professions? Can one speak of an Asian, as opposed to an African, European, Latin-American or North-American way of teaching and researching international law? Secondly, this paper calls for a codification of ‘good practices’ in teaching and researching international law so as to take its global aspirations seriously. Only then can research-led teaching introduce students to different histories and conceptions of international law, in a manner that encourages sensitivity and respect. This is crucial to maintaining the legitimacy and relevance of international law, even as it seeks to constructively engage a global audience that is ever more astute and critical.
This commitment impacts what is being taught and researched, as well as how this is done. International law lecturers need to facilitate student engagement with potentially unfamiliar ideas in a meaningful way, which in turn influences scholarship as a whole. To ensure a high-quality diversity of voices in international law, our research and publication processes need to be structured to overcome barriers of resources and access. Educators and researchers have begun to develop and implement a variety of innovative strategies and tools in the teaching and research of international law, such as open-access policies, accessible internet platforms, joint anthologies, and teaching collaborations. By highlighting positive examples, this paper suggests ways to build upon tradition and use innovation so as to move forward as teachers and scholars of international law. It should also be noted at this point that this is an ongoing research project. The findings and analysis presented in this paper are therefore preliminary in nature, with the aim of encouraging exchange and debate.
Keywords: International law teaching; international law research
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