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Law students gain practical and cultural experience overseas

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Since 2000, Drake students have been summering in France and getting an experience that pushes them to grow academically and think about their contribution to an increasingly globalized world. The six week program involves six credits in a variety of comparative and international law subjects, taught at the University of Nantes, located 2 hours west of Paris.

Although classes are taught in English, students are able to get an in-depth cultural experience through out-of-classroom projects, trips and assignments. Every year students participate in a French mock trial at the Palais de Justice, and conduct negotiations with local French students (right photo). This year, the program’s cultural and practical experience components went to a new level, in its International Environmental Law course.

In order to introduce the students to the varying perspectives, norms, and customs that are critical to understanding many international environmental law discussions, each class period contained an in-class problem-solving exercise. Student groups worked together throughout the semester representing a variety of entities and individuals struggling with environmental challenges. Those entities included large developed nations, developing nations, indigenous individuals, trade organizations, and environmental groups. The exercises were developed around real world problems facing the international community today, including climate change, water rights, biodiversity, transportation, and trade. As part of the course, students also visited CEDRE on the coast of France. CEDRE is the world’s leading water pollution and oil spill clean-up facility.

“Having the skills to succeed in our increasingly global economy is critical. The Drake Summer in France program affords students the opportunity to learn about and experience new and different cultures, political structures, financial economies and judicial systems, which makes the students better prepared to operate on an international level–whether they enter a law firm or go into corporate law.” said Courtney Dreyer a third-year law school participant.

Classes during the summer in France Program are scheduled in order to allow extended weekends and plenty of free time during the week. Students have taken advantage of the many cultural activities and sites in Nantes, including a medieval castle, outdoor cafes, and a lively nightlife, France’s annual music countrywide music festival and great shopping. During those extended weekends students have also been able to travel around Europe, including France’s picturesque Mont Saint Michel and Normandy, among many other destinations.

Click here for more information about Drake Law’s Summer in France Program.