The unique and vibrant 23-year old educational partnership between the Columbus School of Law and the venerable Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, was held out as a prime example of how American universities can successfully partner with international colleagues to the benefit of students from both countries.
Catholic University law school Professor George Garvey (left) described the longstanding and successful arrangement as a panelist for “How to Create and Sustain Meaningful University Partnerships and Linkages,” part of the 2014 EducationUSA forum, held June 23-25 in Washington, D.C.
EducationUSA is a network of academic advising centers located in 170 countries. It is supported by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Designed for international admission and enrollment management professionals at U.S. colleges and universities, the annual forum offers practical information and strategies to help U.S. colleges and universities expand their international student recruitment. Attendees included experts from around the world.
Professor Garvey offered the history of the CUA-Poland collaboration as a case study, something other universities can learn from.
The CUA Law- Jagiellonian University partnership began in 1991. It was the brainchild of Columbus School of Law Professor Rett Ludwikowski (left), who left his native country in the early 1980s during the collapse of Communist rule in Poland.
Contacting friends and colleagues at his former university, Ludwikowski began to construct a business and trade law program that would fill an unmet need and jointly enroll American and Polish students. Courses would be taught in English by both American and Polish law faculty members.
The parameters of the program took shape. Students take up to seven credit hours of course work in the academically rigorous program. All participants in the program must meet common standards and expectations. They take the same exams or write papers that are expected to meet the same quality standards.
One of the most distinguishing features of the arrangement is the emphasis on collegiality outside of the classroom. American students are encouraged to take advantage of the pulsing social life of Cracow, a city with a very large student population and wonderful restaurants, cafes, and clubs. Their Polish classmates help them to navigate and enjoy the local culture. Outside trips include river rafting and visits to historic attractions in Poland.
“The cultural interaction is remarkable,” Garvey noted in his presentation.
There are also opportunities for American students to be placed in externships at Polish law offices, or the Polish offices of international American firms, before or after the summer program.
Key takeaway points Garvey offered to the forum audience included:
- Have university partnerships established and administered by academics who speak the language and understand the context and culture of the foreign partner
- Maintain a sound balance between the academic rigor of your program and the opportunities for students to be enriched by the experiences of your partner’s national culture.
- Expect the unexpected and have the resources to get students (and faculty) through unforeseen circumstances
Garvey’s fellow panelists focused on general best practices for building these types of relationships, with a particular emphasis on strategic partnering.
“Our experience essentially confirmed many of the principles the others discussed,” Garvey said. “The other panelists were quite impressed with the nature and diversity of the joint programs we have with the Jagiellonian University.”