This May, after two years of postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Law’s International Human Rights Summer Law Program, resumed. A group of law students and faculty traveled to Rome, Italy, for the Program, held from May 15 to June 5, 2022, at the Catholic University Rome Center in the Trastevere section of Rome.
Professors J. Joel Alicea, Susanna Fischer, Regina Jefferson, and Lucia Silecchia accompanied the students in Rome, teaching courses that explored the intersection of international human rights law with other substantive areas of law, including art and cultural property, tax policy, and liberal philosophical tradition in modern disputes. Several students also opted to conduct direct research with Professor Silecchia, exploring the involvement of the Holy See on selected human rights issues.
In addition to the intense three-week, four-credit program of study, students visited various legal institutions in Rome including the Italian Senate and the Court of Cassation (Italian Supreme Court). As has become tradition, the first Saturday of the program was devoted to a day trip to the town of Assisi in the mountains of Umbria, and the group had the chance to catch an A.S. Roma game at Stadio Olimpico. As has also become a tradition, the group attended a papal General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on the first Wednesday of the Program.
The International Human Rights Summer Program in Rome was first offered in 2011 with a specific commitment to offering students the opportunity to explore various aspects of human rights law in depth. Each time the program has been offered, the course selections have revolved around different questions of human rights — and their correlative responsibilities. The nature of these rights, their source, and their scope are among the most important questions of the social order. Both historically, and in the present day, there is no shortage of examples of disrespect for human rights and human dignity. Responding to this is a task that, in a particular way, falls to lawyers whose special training and knowledge allow them to work in and with the institutions and legal authorities that can protect, promote, and clearly articulate fundamental human rights. This is also a task that lies very close to the heart of the mission of Catholic Law, which includes a core commitment to the ideals of the dignity of each human person; respect for the inviability of all human life; justice rooted in the common good; the recognition and protection of human rights as gifts of the Creator; care for the poor, the neglected, and the vulnerable; and the obligation of love for one another.
Professor Fischer, Director of the Rome Program, shared: “I am so happy that our students had the chance to participate in this program this summer. We had a wonderful group of students this year. They put great energy and serious effort into their studies, but all of them also made the most of the opportunity to experience the food, culture, art, and history of the Eternal City. We all learned so much from each other! I am extremely grateful to my colleagues Professor Joel Alicea, Professor Regina Jefferson, and Professor Lucia Silecchia for their tremendous work on behalf of the program. I would also like to thank our dedicated and caring staff in the Rome Center, especially Rome Center Director Alessia Noro, Assistant to the Director Jeannette Dimaano, and Resident Assistant Onaamid “Nino” Dimaano.”
Professor Silecchia, Assistant Director of the Rome Program, added, “Since the Human Rights Summer Law Program began over a decade ago, it has been wonderful to share one of my favorite places with our students. It is also a great joy to have the chance to explore critical issues of our times with students both in the classroom and in the abundant time we have to spend together as a community outside class time. I hope that the students who joined us will look back on their days together with many happy memories.”
To learn more about the Summer Abroad programs at Catholic Law, click here.