History of Foreign Study Programs

It all began in the late 1970s. Dean Krinock had occasionally let a student or two attend a summer foreign program and transfer back the credits. One year, though, more than ten students descended on him — he realized the cost in lost tuition of permitting a sizeable group to leave for the summer, and he said "No."  Somehow, Dean Krinock remembered that I had enjoyed foreign study as an undergraduate at Kalamazoo College. He sent the group to me, and asked me to develop a program.

In the summer of 1981, more than 20 students (including one from Temple) met in Caen, a Lansing-size town in Normandy, France. We had six weeks of classes, with instructors from British law schools and our own adjunct, Judge Michael Harrison, teaching on international topics. We traveled again in 1983, with Professor Fitzgerald leading a group to Paris for four weeks. They continued on to meet me in Freiburg, Germany, for another four weeks. In 1985 we failed to find a director (I was getting married that summer, and we had no other volunteers), and the program was shelved. The same cost issue that troubled Dean Krinock now resulted in Cooley students having no ability to attend another school’s program overseas.

Meanwhile, I spent a sabbatical leave directing the University of San Diego School of Law's program in Paris, in 1992, and taught International Environmental Law there. I did the same thing for USD in Dublin, Ireland, in 1995. So, when Dean LeDuc asked me to develop a concentration in International Law and to reopen our foreign programs, it seemed natural to affiliate with San Diego. For what it might cost us to operate one program of our own, we now have seats for students in USD’s seven European summer programs — in Dublin, Oxford, London, Paris, Barcelona, Florence, and Russia, as well as their new program in Mexico City. Cooley students have attended these programs, in large numbers, since 1997. In our four years of cooperation, Cooley students have won 14 book awards in these overseas classrooms, while competing with law students from all over the US and around the world.

In an attempt to broaden our international horizons beyond Europe, Dean LeDuc suggested a Pacific Rim effort. Cooley now has a growing program "down under," and in their summer (which is our winter!). In 1999, Professor Jason took a group to Melbourne, Australia where several courses were taught by members of the Monash University law faculty. Professor Palmer did the same thing the next year. In 2001, our program expanded to a full semester, and included stops in both Australia and New Zealand and with Associate Dean Amy Timmer directing. We continue to collaborate with Monash University, and are adding help from the law faculty of the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 2002, Professor Dennis Cichon was our director, followed by a team effort, Professors Keith Hey and Terry Cavanaugh, in 2003. Professor Cichon was back in the saddle for the 2004 trip. Professor Otto Stockmeyer will direct the 2005 program.

Closer to home, but still foreign, Cooley began a program in Toronto in the summer of 2000. The effort attracted many students from other law schools. Professor Keith Hey directed a six-week stay at St. Michael's College, in mid-town Toronto. I taught Comparative Constitutional Law (which I had taught back in 1983 in Freiburg), and Canadian lawyers and law professors offered four other courses on Canadian legal topics. We have returned to Toronto every year with a continued growth in the number of students attending, both from Cooley and other law schools around the country.

Many Cooley students use the foreign programs as a base for gaining a concentration in International Law. That concentration requires 12 hours of approved electives, including one in International Law. Almost all courses taken in Toronto or overseas will count toward the needed 12 hours.

What lies ahead for international study at Cooley? The opportunity for both Cooley law students and non-Cooley students to expand their law school experience outside the United States. Cooley is continuously looking into other foreign study locations to add to our extensive foreign study program. Alumni seminars and travel opportunities are also a possibility. How about, for example, two weeks in hot and sunny Australia, in February, with a short seminar on International Intellectual Property or Pacific-Rim Trade, and then travel options including tickets to the Australian Open tennis tournament? Much has happened since those first tentative steps were taken twenty years ago.

Toronto, Canada

Willam P. Weiner
Willaim Weiner

William P. Weiner
Professor and Associate Dean for International Programs
B.A. Kalamazoo College 1969
M.A. University of Michigan 1972
J.D. University of Michigan 1972
LL.M. Cambridge University 1985
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