Professor George Critchlow Working with ABA-ROLI to Create Curriculum in Jordan
For a combined seven weeks over the past six months, Professor George Critchlow has been working to improve human rights education and innovate teaching strategies in Jordanian law facilities. He traveled to Amman on behalf of the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI), where he spent his time helping to create an interactive, digital Human Rights curriculum for use in Jordanian law schools and also worked with law faculties to foster more active teaching methods.
ABA-ROLI works in developing countries and emerging democracies throughout the world to support the rule of law, judicial independence and competence, and legal education reform. Critchlow spent five weeks last summer working alongside Jordanian lawyers and teachers to create an extensive human rights curriculum that is available in both Arabic and English.
The project integrated International Human Rights principles and local Jordanian Human Rights law. Critchlow returned to Jordan in January to consult with the ABA and legal educators on strategies for introducing new and different teaching techniques in Jordanian
The Challenges of Legal Education in Jordan
Jordan faces many of the same political, economic, and cultural challenges that are affecting other Middle Eastern and North Africa countries. “Legal education in the country is suffering from reliance on passive learning,” said Critchlow. Jordan’s former Minister of Justice, Mr. Salaheddin M. al-Bashir, PhD, a practicing lawyer in Amman and a faculty member at the University of Jordan Law Faculty, had this to say about legal education in Jordan:
“The central problem with legal education in Jordan is the lack of rigorous, interactive student engagement in the classroom. Students must be given opportunities to write, to communicate, to solve problems, and to develop critical thinking skills. It is simply not sufficient for students to sit passively in a classroom and listen to professors lecture or read. If Jordanian law students are to be competitive and ready for practice, they must learn to effectively communicate and solve problems. This will require new and innovative teaching strategies.”
Integrating Experiential Legal Education
A large focus of the ABA-ROLI’s effort is to introduce experiential law. It helps students get hands on opportunities to experience how law works in action. “Law students need to develop lawyer skills as well as knowledge about doctrine and black letter law. In addition to learning skills, students are more likely to understand the meaning and effects of law on individuals and society when they experience the law in action,” said Critchlow.
Increasing Democratization in Jordan
Jordan’s system of legal education is challenged by the need to produce lawyers who have the knowledge and skills necessary to represent clients in traditional settings and to meet the demands of democratization, international commerce, the rule of law, and international human rights standards. The Human Rights project Critchlow contributed to focused on women’s rights, children’s rights, free expression, procedural justice, freedom from torture and trafficking, and much more.
“Jordan will undoubtedly define and implement these rights according to its own traditions and values, but it is important to expose Jordanian people, especially lawyers and judges, to the human rights standards that have become norms under international law,” said Critchlow.
The Mission of ABA-ROLI
The ABA-ROLI is an international development program that works with in-country partners across the world to promote the rule of law. The association partners with 50 countries to build sustainable institutions that advocate justice, as well as, bring economic opportunity and human dignity to all people. Critchlow is one of more than 400 professional staff working in the United States and abroad who contribute millions of dollars in legal assistance.
Gonzaga Law professors have a long history of volunteering with ABA-ROLI projects. Most recently,
Professor Treuthart helped address domestic violence in Qatar over the Spring 2012 semester and Professor Gerry Hess conducted teacher trainings for the ABA in Turkey.