“Sense of community”: analysis of professors’ perceptions of teaching sociology of law


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Presentation of the 25 years of the International Master of Sociology of Law. Perception of teachers who have teached in the Master. Presentation made in the 25 Anniversary Congress held in the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law.

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“Sense of community”: analysis of professors’ perceptions of teaching sociology of law

  1. 1. “Sense of community”: analysis of professors’ perceptions of teaching sociology of law Angela Melville & Susana Arrese http://www.iisj.es
  2. 2. International Masters in Sociology of Law  Official Master of Arts degree of the University of the Basque Country  2 components:  intensive coursework units from September to March  research project defended in September  12 coursework units + Thesis Seminar  Taught in English http://www.iisj.es
  3. 3. International Master’s in Sociology of Law  1990-2014 (25 Programmes)  436 students from 64 countries  163 professors from 30 countries http://www.iisj.es
  4. 4. Time to reflect: 3 related papers  Susana Arrese & former Scientific Directors 1. Teachers’ perspectives  Building a diverse international socio-legal community 2. Students’ perspectives  Sense of transformation 3. Changing curriculums  The ‘cutting edge’ of sociology of law http://www.iisj.es
  5. 5. Teaching on the program  No in-house academic staff except the Scientific Director  Teachers are leading international scholars  Each teaches for 2 weeks  Teachers are not paid  Teaching positions are highly sought http://www.iisj.es
  6. 6. Methods  Emailed the former teachers  Received 26 replies  Discourse analysis of emergent themes  Inductive approach http://www.iisj.es
  7. 7. Creating an international community  Teachers mostly focused on diversity of students  Geographical, cultural, disciplinary, professional, age, sexualities  Both advantage and a challenge http://www.iisj.es
  8. 8. How has this diversity been achieved?  Word of mouth recommendations  Institute’s other activities, eg workshops  Internet  Importance of scholarships http://www.iisj.es
  9. 9. Why do teachers notice diversity?  PG courses may be diverse, but diversity is still limited  UG students (especially in law) are relatively homogeneous  “firsts”:  1st time taught in English,  1st time taught an intensive course  1st interdisciplinary class  1st time taught to such a diverse group of students http://www.iisj.es
  10. 10. Diversity as “enriching”  “incredible source of learning”  “exchange of experiences”  Learning from students  “greater familiarity” with different cultures  “new dimension” to their research http://www.iisj.es
  11. 11. Diversity as “challenging” “The main challenge for me, I think, was ensuring that there was enough material on the course guide relied on examples from different countries, and not just the United States or the United Kingdom (or Australia), though the reading material had to be in English. I was very conscious of usually relying on material that was based on research in English speaking countries. And I am not sure how successful I was in finding material from diverse countries…” http://www.iisj.es
  12. 12. Diversity as “challenging”  “Students are from different countries, so they were used to very different styles of teaching, tutoring and marking.”  “To avoid restrictive, ethnocentric, limited views on a subject”  “Groups very heterogeneous, cultural mix is important but also challenging”  “The level of knowledge of key issues to be discussed was quite variable as between the students in the class. As a consequence, it was hard to find the right pitch for the courses” http://www.iisj.es