Canal Justicia: Online Legal Education from the Global South


The recognized dilemma: The North-South imbalance in the production and consumption of academic legal thought.

Legal education in the Global South has not yet profited from regional intellectual dialogues. Themes that may be of urgent importance to specific regions may not get the same attention as those that are of greatest import to Global North scholars. Moreover, Global South scholars and educators have greater access to tools for intellectual dialogue with their Global North counterparts than with their Global South colleagues. The missed opportunities for cross-pollination amongst Global South scholars abound, and the losses of these missed opportunities are not measurable. The gains of these collaborations, however, are both measurable and relatively within reach. 

How can we include more Global South voices in our academic spaces while maintaining our capacity to participate in and inform global debates about human rights, the environment, rule of law and other issues of global importance? How can we develop global citizens who do not merely adopt Global North thought and who think critically about issues that are relevant and transversal to their regions?

Is the production of doctrine, theory, and knowledge from the South capable to giving way to a generation of thinkers who can produce sustainable modes of addressing human rights deficiencies? 

Breaking down the dilemma into manageable challenges:

Challenge 1: regional cross-pollination by injecting Global South thought on social inclusion and human rights into legal education.

Can we create a platform for intellectual exchanges in Latin America, where we rely on questions and dilemmas of social inclusion and human rights to frame our teaching of legal doctrine?  Can such a platform generate materials for various levels and sites of legal education? Can such materials contribute to a broad-based reform in judicial education in Latin America?

Group Work and Prototype: A tangible means to intervene in legal education in Latin America.

Canal Justicia Part 1.

We brought together a group of distinguished public intellectuals who teach at law schools across Latin America and who have long devoted their careers to human rights, equality, social inclusion, and the rule of law.  Most of them have had roles as both academics and advocates.  

We organized regional seminars, built partnerships and ultimately produced a series of instructional videos on regionally-relevant questions of rights claims and social inclusion. The videos in this series were the product of multiple iterations and discussions regarding pedagogy, instructional and graphic design consultations, and difficult decisions on substantive content. Here's an invitation to explore our video tutorials:


Canal Justicia: Ideas About the Law in Latin America

Canal Justicia Part 2:

To delve more deeply into some of the debates that emerged, we produced a book mapping legal practice and doctrine in Latin America and reworked our Canal Justicia platform to allow for continued updates, diverse types of support materials, and free access to our book.  

Part of our mission is to facilitate critical thought and debate about the issues we raise. We thus produced another set of short videos, each one explaining and debating some of the key arguments of each of our book chapters. Here, for example, Oscar Vilhena Vieira engages the issue of inequality in the rule of law in Brasil


We prepared these videos after the book was published, to facilitate the adoption of our materials into the classroom.


Canal Justicia Part 3: from innovative to commonly used resource

We have made these resources available to the public and are currently working on strategies to facilitate a widespread adoption of these materials, a menu of effective methods to use them in legal education, and a means to measure to level of adoption and impact. 

Among our planned strategies are seminars to facilitate the development of syllabi that include these materials, and workshops to support Global South educators who would like to develop flipped classroom sessions to use these materials. Canal Justicia's dedicated website will update new materials as they become available.

 

Community Practice: Redesigning Human Rights Education

 

The recognized dilemma.

A core group of scholars, practitioners, educators and thought leaders from South Africa, Latin America, the Philippines, the U.S., Latin America, and India met at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá) to consider the general question of how to better equip the next generation of human rights advocates.  

Some members of our collaborative mapped existing human rights training programs and we pondered ways to spread identified effective practices. Our first session was devoted to breaking down and defining more precisely the general aim of improving human rights education into more discrete challenges. 

The resulting document focused on how to teach for "More Strategic and Outcome Oriented Human Rights Practices."

Breaking down the dilemma into manageable challenges:

We distilled this broad dilemma into six challenges, including teaching strategy, measuring outcomes, combining classroom and experiential learning and incorporating ICTs in the teaching of human rights practice.

Our group met again, a few months later, in Bogotá, to engage in a focused, three-day session of collaborative design and problem-solving.

This session had a dual role: to develop the Lab's own methodology to encourage collaborative innovation, and to develop potential solutions to the challenges our group defined in its previous workshop.

Group work and prototyping: