This past week I returned to Moscow, Russia, to present about experiential learning and interactive teaching to members of the Moscow State University law faculty. This was a follow up visit to the trip last July as part of the LEX project, funded by the United States Russia Foundation (USRF) which I describe in this blog post.
In this trip, instead of meeting with professors from four Russian law schools, as we did last July, we met just with the law faculty at our partner school, Moscow State University. Professor Taylor and I invited our colleague Professor John Campbell to join us for this trip, and he added a great deal to our work. On the first day of the conference, I offered an overview of interactive and experiential teaching methods, and then we offered examples. Professor Taylor offered the “No Vehicles in the Park” example, and got a good discussion going amongst the attendees (again, we had live translation available). Professor Campbell took the participants through a legislative drafting exercise, which helps students to understand how difficult it is to write a statute that addresses every possible future application of the statute, which was instructive to our Russian colleagues. And I gave an additional presentation about teaching law through simulations.
The next day, we met in small group consultations with members of the MSU law faculty who wanted to speak with us individually about their concerns, ideas, and talk about issues they are having in specific courses. I worked with a professor who was particularly interested to know more about my use of CaseMap in my courses, and a few other teaching methods I mentioned in my talk the previous day. And another member of the faculty who wanted to talk about the legal research and writing course that he teaches, having reviewed my syllabus for a similar course (which I had given him the previous day). My two colleagues also had consultations with other members of the MSU faculty. These small group or one-on-one interactions were especially rewarding for us, and I hope were helpful to our colleagues in Moscow.
It sounds like some of our colleagues at MSU have read the Law School 2.0 book - I left a copy with them when we were there in July - and one of them expressed interest in translating it into Russian!
As we did in July, we reserved some time for sightseeing. This time we spent more time in the Moscow subway, which is challenging when you are still barely learning the language. Professor Elena Abrosimova took me to the Tretyakov State art gallery, and although I had a nice time there last July, this time I had the benefit her explanations of the background and history being depicted in the largest canvases. The trip to the Tretyakov with Elena was a highlight of the trip for me. We met up with the rest of the group and then went to the Kremlin to see the churches on the grounds, and after that we did a bit of shopping on the Arbat. I was concerned about the winter weather in Moscow, but it wasn’t that cold (around 28 degrees Fahrenheit most days). But on Friday it was snowing pretty hard, and that made walking much more difficult than it had been in July (when it was very hot, but at least not slippery and snow packed).
We hope and plan for our colleagues at MSU to join us in Denver in April. It would be terrific for us to be able to share our actual classes with them – we have told them much about what we do, but to have them see it in action would be valuable. After that, the LEX group as a whole will get together once again in early July in Russia. We look forward to that trip too.