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William Ewald, professor of law and philosophy, agrees wholeheartedly with deLisle. Ewald, an expert in European law, and a leading theoretician of comparative law, takes a broad historical view of the forces that created the climate for the study of international law. According to Ewald, the nineteenth century concept of nation-states has been losing its relevance. This old governing principle, where sovereign countries established insular laws and maintained secure borders, no longer makes sense in a world of mass migration, terrorism, genocide, epidemics and environmental disputes. “These issues cry out for some kind of international resolution,” Ewald says. “Many of these issues are simply too big for one state to handle on its own.”

Ewald points to the gathering strength of the European Union as another reason for American students to broaden their legal horizons. The EU has adopted a common currency, has expanded to embrace Eastern Europe, and is in the process of a melding of legal systems. “As European economies grow more integrated, American students will find they need to understand the systems in the core European countries,” Ewald says. “But, in a surprising way, that involves understanding legal history, and especially the tradition of Roman law, which is the substratum of the continental legal systems. That may sound surprising; but trying to understand what is going on in Europe today without knowing about Roman law is like trying to understand the Supreme Court without knowing about the Declaration of Independence.”

Comparative Law
A Must Today

In a corollary to form follows function, the school has built strengths in Comparative and Transnational Law to serve the needs of students, who, in today’s global marketplace, must understand the theoretical underpinnings of other legal systems and know how to transfer that knowledge into practice in the world of commerce. “We’re getting a stream of students who are coming into a world quite different from when an earlier generation was studying law,” says Feldman, assistant professor of law and an authority on comparative public health.

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