Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The Importance of Experiential Learning for Development of Essential Skills in Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Effectiveness
"This paper explores the critical importance of clinics, externships other experiential experiences for the development of skills in cross-cultural and intercultural effectiveness. It also examines the need for law school curricula to prioritize this learning."
From the Introduction:
"In this essay, I argue two points. First, I posit that the time is ripe for systemizing the development of cross-cultural communication and IE skills in law students because of the increasingly globalized nature of our world, the American Bar Association (ABA)’s anticipated adoption of a student learning outcomes framework for law schools and the changing landscape for post-law school employment. Cross-cultural skill building will involve some core knowledge development and will require law schools to embrace professional development of values and attitudes that support IE. Second, I believe that law schools can best realize these important student learning outcomes through well-designed, well-supervised, experience-based courses in which law students can more easily overcome their resistance to or defensiveness against learning about cross-cultural issues. Experiential courses, and in particular clinical courses, are best suited for this learning because law students are motivated to improve communication and build relationships when they are responsible for real clients. In addition, because of the repeated real life examples of culture clash which current legal systems and current laws organically provide, clinical courses (including well-supervised field placements) can provide the context for working through the challenges of representing non-majoritarian clients in implicitly biased courts and under particular legal frameworks which privilege the dominant culture. Well-designed clinical and field placement courses also provide structured opportunities for reflecting upon our imperfect and evolving legal systems through intensive, supervised engagement with real legal issues over the course of an entire semester, with opportunities for continuous feedback and assessment by the faculty supervisor."