Comparative Law and the multicultural classroom
Comparative law and multiculturalism can evolve together in the classroom at schools of law and result in a fruitful combination. Their interplay should be encouraged.
Universities offer an optimal environment to bring together different peoples, local and from beyond. In that context, globalization calls for lawyers that know the rules and can adapt their interpretation to new social contexts, being actors that participate in a multicultural and comparative environment. Ultimately, law graduates will learn to deal with otherness, turning into lawyers sans frontières!
A call is hereby made for more presence of comparative approaches in the law curricula, while there is value in updating teaching methods. Further, the presence of comparative law in multicultural classrooms invites to explore challenges and opportunities for the internationalization of legal education. Legal education indeed merits attention. Specific studies have gained momentum in several jurisdictions during the past decades, since scholars alerted about the need to restate many aspects of that field. Legal education is therefore being subject to constructive criticism and pedagogical techniques call for change. For example, empirical studies can reveal enriching results on self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, and an increase in studies of sociology of law can help to better grasp the status of legal education in particular jurisdictions.
Cultural diversity is present in many classrooms at schools of law, since universities can be considered platforms for social mobility and law graduates offer a diverse composition, in light of gender and ethnicity. Foreign students are growing in numbers in several jurisdiction, likewise. The classroom, accordingly, can serve as a laboratory where multiculturalism and comparative law can coexist and nurture each other. In that unique habitat, comparative law can be used in a multicultural context as a means to eliminate barriers to learn and move across jurisdictions, while acknowledging and respecting cultural differences. The time seems ripe for change to be explored. It is paramount that all participants in the classroom–being the main actors in legal education–ought to be open to welcome change, whenever and if needed. These actors should be also heard at the time of exploring change. Dialogue amongst actors seems to be the key for success in these endeavours.
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