|Amy Gadsden, associate dean |
and executive director of
Gadsden has worked on issues related to legal and political reforms and human rights in China and elsewhere. She has also handled assignments at the U.S. Department of State and the International Republican Institute, where she focused on programs to promote good governance, rule of law, human rights and civil society reform. In the 1990s she worked with Chinese government and non-government entities to promote legal reform and grassroots elections. More recently, she was working with NGOs at the forefront of China’s dynamic civil society development, looking at issues such as women’s political participation and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Here, Gadsden discusses her plans to build on and strengthen Penn Law’s international program.
Q. What are some international legal training opportunities that you are creating for students?
A. The Law School already has excellent programs for bringing international expertise on to campus. Our LLM. program draws from more than 40 countries and we have the Bok Visiting International Professors and a visiting scholars program, both of which bring international experts to Philadelphia. I want to focus on creating more outbound opportunities to complement our inbound programs. We are launching the Penn Law Global initiative next year, which will be the umbrella for new and expanded international programs.
For several years we have allowed students to study abroad. PLGI will go beyond study abroad and give students opportunities to work or research abroad. Two years ago, Penn started the International Summer Human Rights Fellows Programs which supports students who work with NGOs and multilateral agencies to protect and promote human rights. With PLGI we will expand that program and add the Penn Law International Internship Program, in which internationally-based alumni sponsor internships for first year law students at a local law firm and introduce them to the practice of law in other jurisdictions. We are also introducing the Global Research Seminar, which gives students the chance to research a topic overseas in depth under close faculty supervision.
Q. What is your long-term vision for Penn Law internationally?
A. Long term I am thinking about Penn’s pro bono responsibility in the world and the role it can play in promoting the rule of law in countries in transition. China in the 1980s, for example, began rebuilding its legal system following the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. At that time, a handful of U.S. law schools stepped in and offered fellowships to Chinese law professors so that they could gain comparative perspective as they developed specialized law fields in China.
Thirty years ago there were at most a handful of professors, much less law students, who could really take advantage of a U.S. legal education. Today, thousands of Chinese are studying law overseas and Penn Law has more LLM. students from mainland China than any other country. This is remarkable, in no small part because it was not inevitable. Today there are other places in addition to China where such potential transformation is possible. Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, might be places where we can help with legal training and development in the coming years.