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Watson to start new law courses

The International Relations program is about to get a lot more international. In spring 2009, five new instructors hailing from South Africa, India, Canada and Israel will begin teaching new international law related courses in the IR and Development Studies departments.

Two new courses will also be taught in the Fall 2008 semester, one by Director of International Affairs Vasuki Nesiah and the other by a visiting scholar, according to Claudia Jean Elliott MA'91 PhD'99, assistant director of International Studies. Ten new courses - five lecture and five seminar - will be offered in the spring. Course topics will deal with globalization and international law, focusing on gender, child labor, environmental issues, social justice and economics.

"We don't have courses like these at Brown and I think students are really going to latch onto them," Elliott said.

This influx of international instructors and the focus on international law is part of a global governance initiative worked on by Vice President for International Affairs David Kennedy '76, who will soon take over as Watson's interim director, Associate Professor of Political Science Peter Andreas wrote in an e-mail.

Both Andreas and Nina Tannenwald, associate professor of International Relations, credited Kennedy's connections with the international instructors coming to Brown. Many of them were taught by Kennedy or went to Harvard Law School with him, Tannenwald added. However, Andreas wrote that he hopes that as the initiative becomes more established, "personal connections will be less essential in attracting a broad range of international legal scholars."

Elliott expects that these will be the first in a wave of new courses that will "branch out on what we have been thinking and offering in IR so far," adding that while all the new courses have law components, they also "cover a wide range of themes that would be important to many concentrations."

Currently, there are only two international law related courses being offered: POLS 1500: "The International Law and the Politics of Human Rights" and INTL 1700: "International Law."

Jeb Koogler '10, who takes POLS 1500, said there is "definitely a need for more international law classes," because the current ones are too introductory to allow him to dig as deep into the subject as he would like.

"As an international studies student, international law will become increasingly relevant, so I want to be able to understand it as best as I can," he said.

Tannenwald, who teaches POLS 1500, said the addition of professors and classes will fill a significant gap in the department.

"Without these folks we have no international law program really," Tannenwald said, adding that the professors will provide a much more specialized perspective on international law.

"A lot of what is going on now is about law, and in a legalizing world I think it is very important to have this perspective and discipline," she said.

And according to Tannenwald and Elliott, Koogler is not the only student excited about more international law courses.

"International law courses always generate lots of interest," Elliott said, adding that almost every student she's talked to was planning on shopping the new courses.


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