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New Opportunities to Study Abroad

Cornell Law Students now have two more schools to choose from when studying abroad.

The University of Chile in Santiago, Chile, and the University of Oslo in Norway have joined twenty other law schools where students may spend a semester.

Larry S. Bush, Executive Director of the Clarke Center for International and Comparative Legal Studies, explained how these new universities became part of the Law School’s extensive study-abroad options.

“Scandinavia and South America have been some of the voids on our map,” said Bush. (The “map” includes ten universities in Europe, and schools in Egypt, Israel, South Africa, India, China, Japan, and Australia.)

The University of Chile’s School of Law is the country’s oldest and most prestigious. Cornell will exchange about two students with the school each year. Bush was looking for a partner in South America, and the University of Chile “had been on my radar screen for awhile,” he explained. “It is very well regarded.”

Once he and his counterparts at Chile and Oslo agreed on the exchange, Bush proposed it to the oversight committee for international studies, and both parties signed an exchange agreement and memorandum of understanding.

Studies at Chile will be in Spanish. “We’ve sent four or five students to South America over the last dozen years or so, when we didn’t have a partner program, and the classes at our two partner schools in Barcelona are also in Spanish,” Bush said.

He noted that “an impressive number” of Law School students are fluent in a second language. Most of those speak Spanish; other languages include French and Japanese. However, many of the Law School’s partner schools offer their programs in English.

That is true of the University of Oslo, the oldest and largest law school in Norway, with ten multidisciplinary areas to its credit. “With Chile, I was on the lookout for a partner school,” explained Bush. In the case of Oslo, Laura Underkuffler, the Law School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, had worked with colleagues there and suggested the connection.

Students have attended schools in Denmark on an ad hoc basis—that is, the student makes the connection, not Cornell. Oslo “looked like a good opportunity,” said Bush. “Of course, this doesn’t foreclose other places in Scandinavia, nor other places in South America. We are actively looking for an appropriate partner in Brazil—though we can’t count on students being fluent in Portuguese!”

Interestingly, students focusing on international law don’t make up the majority of those who study abroad. Many, said Bush, “just want to have a broadening experience. I can certainly make a case for the student who will never do anything like this again.”