So, what am I looking for? I want to study international human rights law. That can involve anything from refugees to war crimes tribunals to petitions to stop construction of factories that pollute across borders. American U. has a joint degree program that would grant me a law degree (JD) and a masters in international affairs, with one of about 10 specializations, many having to do with human rights. It is a strong, institutionalized program, with 200 students in it right now, as opposed to most similar programs at other schools, which are smaller or must be designed on an individual basis, and focus usually on the business side of international law. I want to do a joint degree because that way, I can practice law or go into policy, and either way I'd have a strong background and a broader knowledge base. I still haven't heard from the School for International Service, where I would get my masters, because they just got my application forwarded once WCL accepted me. But even if I don't get it, I can apply after my first year at WCL, which will not set me back because my first year I would take all law courses anyway.
Beyond the joint degree program, there are many other benefits to WCL. There are four summer abroad programs (Chile/Europe [Geneva, Brussels, London and Paris)/The Hague/Turkey) that focus on international law and development/human rights issues. These programs are a month long, and many participants are able to get internships abroad for the rest of the summer in the location they studied. That would give me invaluable international experience.
Speaking of invaluable international experience, the Dean of the law school is a chair of the UN's Committee Against Torture, and every year he chooses 6 students to help prepare for the meetings and take a special class on torture and international law, then they go to Geneva for the meetings and attend meetings with the Committee and State delegations.
There's also the War Crimes Research Office, where students, professors, staff and outside experts prepare research for War Crimes Tribunals. And the American University International Law Review, a student-written law review focusing on International Law. And the Human Rights Brief, another student publication. And the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition, held at American every year, with participants from almost every country in Latin America, usually from multiple universities in each country, and from all over the US and Canada.
There are also numerous courses pertaining to international human rights law, and the interaction of law and development, economics, politics, etc. Plus, being in Washington, DC itself provides many opportunities.
I am very excited about this, although I know it will be very hard. When I visited American and WCL last spring, I knew it was somewhere I could feel comfortable, and somewhere I would learn a lot, from classes, professors and other students. Just wanted you all to know what's going on. : )