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Penn Law student wins fellowship to study ethics at Auschwitz

April 06, 2015

Penn Law student Adam Mendel L’16 has been selected by Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a two-week program in Europe for future attorneys.

Mendel is one of 12 law students who will travel to Germany and Poland this summer for the program, which is run under the auspices of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. In addition, 50 other graduate students in business, journalism, medicine, and religion were also selected as Fellows.

“This fellowship provides Adam a powerful space to engage in shared learning on professional ethics,” said Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean for International Programs at Penn Law. “The opportunity to visit Auschwitz and study with ethics scholars and cross fertilize ideas from different disciplines will provide him critical insights on how lawyers consider both the moral and legal consequences of their work.”

Through the FASPE program, now in its sixth year, students conduct an intensive study of contemporary ethics by exploring the history of the Holocaust. Fellows have the experience of visiting Auschwitz and traveling through Germany and Poland, where they consider how history applies to the ethical challenges of their chosen professions.

In his 12 days as a Fellow, Mendel will participate in seminars run by scholars who serve as FASPE faculty and attend lectures with guest speakers. He will travel to Berlin; Oświęcim, Poland — called Auschwitz by the Germans; and Krakow, Poland.

At the end of the program, Mendel will submit a final essay on a contemporary ethical issue. The program will publish selected essays in the annual FASPE Journal.

The Fellows were chosen from over 1,000 applicants from around the world.

“I wish to study professional ethics at Auschwitz so I can better understand the ways by which morality, or a lack thereof, can shape the legal system,” said Mendel. “Doing so will enable me to better serve as a guardian against such corruption throughout my career.”

Mendel grew up in central Massachusetts. Before attending Penn Law, he received a bachelor’s degree in political science, international studies, and Latino studies from Northwestern University, where he also formed the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance.

“FASPE is committed to a long-term relationship with the Fellows in order to sustain the ideas raised during the Fellowships,” said Dr. Thorin Tritter, Managing Director of FASPE. “FASPE fosters an active network of alumni Fellows and provides forums for continuing dialogue among the Fellows as they move forward in their careers.”