Faculty of Law awarded a Centre for Excellence for Education
The Centre for Experiential Legal Learning (CELL) at the Faculty has been granted status as a Centre of Excellence in Education. "This has great significance for the development of future education in law," explains Dean Dag Michalsen.
The Faculty has received the good news that the Centre on Experiential Legal Learning (CELL) initiative has been awarded the status of Centre of Excellence in Education (SFU). The prestigious status involves 34 million Norwegian kroner (4 million USD) in grants to develop, disseminate and research new learning methods.
The SFU is awarded by the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement (Diku), and applies for five years, with the possibility of an extension for a further five years.
Read more on Centres for Excellence in Education (diku.no/en)
Changes how students learn
In recent years, there have been several initiatives in the Faculty to test out innovative elements in teaching, such as compulsory mock trials and developing legal technology. CELL builds on these reforms and will work towards the integration of experiential learning in study programmes across the faculty.
Experiential learning means that the student learns by doing, for example by working with simulations or "in the field", such as in the Juss-Buss pro-bono legal aid clinic.
"It is important to clarify that we will not be changing the structure of the law programme, but we will change how students learn," says Professor Malcolm Langford, the Centre’s leader.
“Among other things, we are now working with course coordinators to look at how we can introduce different proficiency exercises. A range of other initiatives are also planned, including creating a digital learning platform for law students – the ‘Digital Courtroom’ - and starting up a "Tech Clinic" where law students will give legal advice to young technology entrepreneurs. With the funds from the Centres for Excellence in Education (SFU) we will be able to realise our plans to a greater degree.”
Students are involved
An important principle in CELL is that students are involved in the development and design of teaching. Students will also act as teaching assistants in various courses, as is currently the case with the JUS5070 - Negotiations course. This principle is also reflected in the fact that students are included in the management of CELL.
"It's been great fun to see how much involvement there is in CELL," says Johanne Marie Rohde Larsen, one of the students involved in CELL.”It's so fantastic that students have been involved all the way on an equal par with the academic staff. Students can be proud of their efforts and participation so far. I’m now looking forward to continuing the work, supporting the development of the teaching.
Students have been participants both in the organization of CELL and during the application process for obtaining the status of SFU, on an equal footing with academic staff.
A Norwegian and international effort
The goal of CELL is to contribute to the national and international development of law education.
In the Centre for Excellence process, the law faculties of Tromsø and Bergen contributed significantly. Together the three faculties will collaborate through CELL Norway.
"We are looking forward to working with the University of Bergen and the University of Tromsø in the years to come," says Education Dean Erling Hjelmeng. “Such a collaboration will make an important contribution to society, with students who will be better equipped for new demands in working life. Experiential learning increases students’ understanding of theory and builds the practical and critical skills that future lawyers need.”
CELL is also supported by leading experts in pedagogy and legal education through its International Advisory Board of Professor Katz (Illinois Tech), Professor Bordone (Harvard), Professor Satterthwaite (NYU Global Law Clinic), Vice Rector Valk (Tartu) and Professor Heger (Humboldt).
At the faculty in Oslo, the project of developing legal education will receive an extra boost when the new Domus Juridica is put into use in January 2020. In this new building, teaching areas are adapted for "flipped classroom" and have the flexibility to be able to be used for more than just one-way lectures.
Also read: Better learning in Domus Juridica
Dean of the Faculty, Dag Michalsen, also gave credit to the many individuals and organisations who have assisted with both CELL’s activities and the SFU application itself.
“Many people at the Faculty have made important contributions,” explains Michalsen. “The same applies for partners from the private and public sectors, student representatives and our colleagues in Bergen and Tromsø. Together they have made it possible for us to reach this goal. Nor should we forget that we have had the support of the University’s management all the way.
Many have offered their congratulations, including the Rector of the University of Oslo, Svein Stølen:
“This is very gratifying and shows that our different academic units maintain an outstanding quality. I look forward to seeing the results of the SFU work, and am sure that this will contribute a great deal to the University of Oslo as an institution and to our students. The two existing SFU are already adding a lot to UiO and it is fantastic that we can add two more,” says Rector Svein Stølen.