Barbados: The benefits of comparative study
Chris Phillippy is a rising 2L from Syracuse, Kansas. No stranger to international travel, Chris spent a year in South Korea teaching English and traveled Ireland before entering law school. He shares his insights on his decision to study abroad and the courses taught in Barbados this summer.
“By the time I’d finished the second informational meeting on the summer study program in Barbados, I had a firm feeling that it was something I wanted to participate in, and with no summer job lined up after my first year of school it seemed like this was the summer to do it. I felt fortunate that the classes being taught this summer would focus on areas of law that had particularly interested me during my 1L year, that being constitutional law and criminal procedure. Although I’d not taken any classes with either Prof. Rich or Prof. Ramirez, who would be teaching the courses, I looked forward to the opportunity. After sorting out how to finance the endeavor my anxieties faded, and I prepared for the nearly eight weeks I’d be out of the country.
I’d felt all along that if I was going to be picking up six credits worth of summer classes, why not do it in the Caribbean? Neither the island nor the classes disappointed. Barbados is beautiful, and almost constantly 86 degrees, sunny, and humid. Our counterpart students from the University of the West Indies were friendly, and an invaluable addition to our classes. I feel I’ve made new friends, and I hope to see them again one day.
The first class, taught by our own Professor Rich, and UWI’s Professor James addressed the topic of comparative constitutional law, focusing on the United States’ constitution, and various constitutions from the Caribbean. It was enlightening to look at the evolution of constitutional models, and to hear the thoughts and opinions of people who live under those constitutions. It taught both how things work at home, and abroad, and also some of why they work the way they do. To properly appreciate (or, I suppose, not) the rationale of how we do things, there’s no better way than to examine how other places have decided to address the same kinds of questions.
Similarly, our class in comparative criminal procedures, taught by Washburn’s Professor Ramirez and UWI’s Professor Durbin, examined this topic from three perspectives: the United States, the Caribbean, and the French system, with which Professor Durbin was familiar. After my first year of law school, certain ways in which the law works had been ingrained, and while the Caribbean shared basic features with the U.S., the French system was a truly different animal, and trying to think and work within that model forced us all to stretch and adapt.
I was certainly glad that this particular summer had courses that were within my interest areas, but I would unhesitatingly encourage any student even passingly interested in the idea to pursue it, and participate next year.”