February 16, 2010
ATLANTA—Georgia State University College of Law Professor Colin Crawford recently was awarded the 2009 Study Abroad Program Director of the Year Award by Georgia State University. The Summer Legal Program in Rio de Janeiro, for which Crawford was recognized, is an intensive study abroad developed at Georgia State and operated in consortium with The University of Tennessee and Seattle University College of Law.
As a "deep believer in the importance of international education, especially in the globalized market," Crawford is honored by this award. The Summer Legal Study Program in Rio de Janeiro he developed at Georgia State "tries to do something different," he said, because it branches away from the traditional English-speaking summer curriculum in developed countries and gives students learning experiences in a less developed, non-English speaking society.
Crawford believes it is important to understand that there are many ways to look at problems and notes that different legal systems have different ways to look at problems. The Summer Legal Study Program in Rio de Janeiro, which he directs, has a core curriculum of eight to ten class that change ever year but focus on three tracks: Environmental and Land Use Law, Trade and Business Law and Human Rights and Social Justice. The courses feature heavy participation by Brazilian practitioners and professors, who compel students to engage in comparative study of U.S. and Brazilian law.
The Program in Rio de Janeiro is not all work, as the 95 students who, in 2009 represented over 20 US Law Schools and five Brazilian institutions, were given the opportunity to experience a variety of cultural outings. Various musical performances, soccer games and even a trip into the rain forest allowed the students to truly experience a different society. Crawford feels the most important part of a study abroad experience is "getting out of your comfort zone and into a different culture." He feels the experience can "give a lot of energy and focus to the students by looking at the law through the eyes of folks in another society."
This past year was the fifth year for Rio de Janeiro program. Crawford will be taking this year off and the program will return in 2011. This year the College of Law will be offering a summer program in conjunction with Florida International University in Seville, Spain. Crawford encourages participation in various study abroad opportunities because he feels the experience produces "better law students, better lawyers and better citizens."
By Cindi Yarbrough, Georgia State Law student