Public Interest Law


Course: Chinese Judicial Reform from a Comparative Perspective
Professor: Susan Finder

STL, as a law school in Shenzhen, has a unique vantage point from which to consider and monitor the implementation of China’s judicial reforms, because Shenzhen has been selected as the location of one of the Supreme People’s Court’s Circuit Courts as well as for many judicial pilot projects.

This course will consider Chinese judicial reforms in the wider context of judicial reforms of developing economies as well as the context of China’s history, political system, and society. It will give students an overview of the issues involved chance to learn more about the judicial reforms from a variety of viewpoints, including from some of the Shenzhen-based participants themselves. Some of the topics to be covered include the role of the circuit courts, splitting jurisdiction from administrative areas, and judicial autonomy/independence.


Course: Comparative Constitutional Law
Professor: Stephan Jaggi

Based on the idea that comparison broadens the perspective and inspires fresh thinking, this class looks at a variety of important constitutional problems through the prism of different countries’ constitutional orders. What is the purpose of constitutional law? How do revolutions make constitutional law? How does constitutional law work in times of crises? How do different constitutional orders deal with problems of gender discrimination or poverty? These are some of the questions that we approach from the perspective of the U.S., Germany, France, China, Canada, and South Africa, among others. The class includes a strong emphasis on philosophical, political, and legal writings by authors such as Hannah Arendt, Bruce Ackerman, Cass Sunstein, Qianfan Zhang, and some of Professor Jaggi’s own writings on revolutionary constitutional lawmaking in Germany.


Course: Criminal Procedure
Professor: Nicholas Frayn

The course will survey the entire American criminal process from investigation and arrest to sentencing. The course will cover the Bill of Rights and a comparison of adversarial vs. inquisitorial systems and will present a broad overview of criminal procedure, including arraignment, pretrial detention and release, discovery, right to counsel, right to trial by jury, pretrial motions, trial, and the roles of judge and jury. The course will also concentrate on search and seizure, interrogation and confession, and suppression of evidence under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, following the case of a single defendant from arrest to conviction and sentencing.


Course: Discrimination and the Law
Professor: Stephen Yandle

American law has a peculiar history in regard to discrimination on the basis of an individual’s characteristics (e.g., race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation). This course will examine the history of American law and discrimination from the founding to the current day, looking at discrimination/anti-discrimination in legislative actions (including citizen initiatives), administrative interpretations and judicial decisions. Since the breadth and depth of issues are too great for comprehensive coverage in a single course, the course will focus on discrimination in education as an illustrative microcosm.


Course: Equal Protection Law
Professor: Mark Rosenbaum

This course explores U.S. Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence in the area of equal rights and liberty. Questions examined include: the meaning of constitutionalism and rule of law; do rights exist and how are they to be determined?; can rights change based on contemporary values?; the relationship between the majority and racial, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation minorities; do protections exist against discrimination?; what is the meaning of liberty and how can liberty be protected and nurtured?; do rights exist if they’re not specified in a constitution?


Course: First Amendment Law
Professor: Mark Rosenbaum

This course examines contemporary issues of free speech in the context of U.S. Constitution First Amendment law: the uses and values of free speech; whether certain categories of speech deserve more or less protection; political speech; censorship and discrimination based on content; hate speech and racist speech; obscenity and pornography and feminism; symbolic speech. Students are asked to develop a coherent theory of speech protection and regulation.


Course: Human Rights Practicum
Professor: Rachel Jamison

Human rights attorneys often undertake legal writing that is far different from other forms such as memos and briefs. Many human rights attorneys write reports on violations of human rights with the intent to use these reports to advocate for changes in the law, raise public awareness, or bring about international pressure to change a situation. In general, human rights reports encompass three separate functions: 1) provide a record of human rights violations, 2) analyze gaps in legal protection or violations of existing protections 3) make suggestions to international, national, and local decision makers to improve the situation.

In this course, students will learn this style of legal writing and will work together to create a 35-50 page report. There will be two teams of 6 students working on separate issues, in consultation with NGO partners. One team will document challenges LGBTI people face in accessing healthcare in China. The other team will write a report on unconstitutional arrests of sex workers in Sierra Leone. Students will undertake fact-finding research to learn more about the situation and will conduct legal research on relevant international and national laws. They will then draft and peer-review the report.

By the end of the course students will have familiarity with national, regional, and international human rights laws, be able to critically analyze a situation to determine which human rights violations are occurring and what mechanisms exist as remedies. Finally, students will know the structure, tone, and style of writing legal reports and will improve their writing skills.


Course: International Criminal Justice
Professor: Michael Greco

The rapid development of a body of international criminal law that imposes responsibilities directly on individuals and punishes violations through international mechanisms is relatively recent; the body of law is not yet uniform, and its courts are not yet universal. The course provides explanation and appraisal of international law and procedure, and focuses on crimes that are within the jurisdiction of international tribunals: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. The course also briefly consider terrorist offenses, torture and other crimes not yet within international court or tribunal jurisdiction.


Course: International Refugee and Migration Law
Professor: Christian Pangilinan

Around the world, increasing numbers of people are crossing borders for migration or to seek refuge. Whether because of war, politics, economic hardship, or climate change, internal humanitarian crises push families and individuals across national borders in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, Asia, and other parts of the world. This course aims to provide students with a working understanding of the fundamentals of refugee and international migration law as well as current challenges or controversies faced in these fields. The course focuses on refugee and migration law from the perspectives of national sovereignty and its limits in light of human rights standards and international conventions such as the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and international or regional agreements on human smuggling, trafficking, statelessness, and internally displaced persons. Students are exposed to jurisprudence from a range of both national and international courts and tribunals.


Course: Justice
Professor: Stephan Jaggi

The course looks at different authors and their theories of justice (John Rawls, Roberto Unger, Amartya Sen, Michael Sandel, Bruce Ackerman, Robert Nozick, Hannah Arendt, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Karl Jaspers) and identifies the major differences and similarities of these theories. The course joins substantive ideas of justice with individual rights and government structure in order to emphasize the importance of all three elements for a body politic. The course then examines how different core principles of justice may translate into constitutional law and how these principles are reflected in already existing constitutional law (Do we need constitutional social rights? What are the different concepts of constitutional social rights? What kind of government structure and popular participation is necessary to implement different principles of justice? What principles of justice are necessary to achieve a realistic practice of popular sovereignty and participation? What kind of constitutional control of private political power is necessary in order to implement different concepts of justice?).

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Peking University School of Transnational Law

Room 410, School of Transnational Law
Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School,
University Town, Xili, Nanshan District,
Shenzhen, China 518055