Lisa Radtke Bliss, clinical professor and associate dean of experiential education and clinical programs at Georgia State University’s College of Law, taught in the Patient’s Rights Clinic and Human Rights Clinic this fall at Palacký University Olomouc in the Czech Republic as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair. Bliss’s teaching drew from her experience as co-director of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic, a leading U.S. medical-legal partnership.
Bliss co-taught the Human Rights Clinic with vice dean Maxim Tomoczek. As one of its collaborative projects, “the clinic students identified a human rights issue to work on and the class identified potential legal and policy solutions,” Bliss said.
In the Patients’ Rights Clinic, Bliss focused on comparative perspectives in health law. “The U.S. health system is unique. Czech students were interested in learning about how health care and health insurance systems function in the U.S. and how that compares to the way health care works in the Czech Republic,” said Bliss. With nearly universal coverage, low cost and comparable quality to other European countries, the Czech Republic health care system has improved greatly since the end of communism.
Bliss’s visit coincided with the 30 year anniversary of the so-called Velvet Revolution, which began with a student protest in Prague and precipitated the end of communism in the Czech Republic.
The Faculty of Law at Palacký University has symbolic importance. It was created in 1991 in the buildings of the former District Committee of the Communist Party. Students at Palacký University participated in the 30 Year Anniversary Celebrations, including the re-enactment of a protest that students in Olomouc held at the Communist Party site in 1989. Bliss attended the ceremonies and participated with students and faculty in the re-creation of a wall constructed of cardboard boxes with messages of peace and hope.
“I am grateful that my Fulbright visit coincided with this important anniversary for the Czech people. The timing offered a unique opportunity to talk with Czechs about their memories and experiences of communist rule, and how their lives have changed since then,” said Bliss. “I also was honored to attend a lecture by a photographer who documented every day life in the Czech Republic under communism. A colleague kindly interpreted the talk for me, and it was amazing to both see the photographs and to experience living history.”
After completing the Fulbright program at the end of November, Bliss traveled on to Indonesia to speak at the Global Alliance for Justice Education 10th Worldwide Conference on incorporating justice into clinical education She is co-president of GAJE and also co-organized a two-day Training of Trainers workshop following the main conference.
Bliss believes her experiences immersing herself in other cultures and contexts have helped her become a better teacher. Cross-cultural learning is critical because health-law partnerships are growing around the world.
“The challenge is gathering people from different disciplines and working out ways for them to come together,” Bliss said. “These collaborations help pave the way for the future.”