Collaborative Cross-Jurisdictional Teaching: NAFTA from a Tri-Lateral Perspective
25 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 13, 2015
In the winter term of 2010, we each began teaching courses on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at our respective institutions in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Unlike in the past, however, this year we embarked on an experiment to see how NAFTA could be taught collaboratively. Our basic idea was that a substantial portion of each course would involve collaborative exercises, each of which would be designed by the three of us together and participated in by students in each class. We hoped to give ourselves a unique opportunity for professional collaboration, but, more importantly, to provide an enriched educational experience for our students. For students in each class, academic discussion of the trade agreement and the context in which it operates would be supplemented by interaction with and learning from students and faculty from the other two countries, such that students in each NAFTA country would benefit from an appreciation of their experiences and viewpoints. We believe (as do other experts in international economic law) that the “legal culture” of each NAFTA country influences the ways in which the NAFTA regime operates. By “legal culture” we mean not only the formal legal institutions and norms that operate in a society, but also the historical, linguistic, sociological and anthropological attributes that make legal norms operative (or inoperative). We expected that through cross-border collaboration with students from neighboring countries our students would not only understand better the real economic and social effects of NAFTA, but would also acquire a better appreciation of the nature of the North American community that we share, including both the differences and the commonalities in the legal, political and economic systems in the three jurisdictions. In this short note, we describe what we did, some of the challenges encountered, and a few of the lessons we learned from our experience.
Keywords: international trade law, international economic law, NAFTA, teaching law, legal pedagogy
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