The Harvard Law School Version of International Law Curriculum
Last week was the deadline to register for upper-level electives at Harvard Law School. There are plenty of exotic foreign and international law school courses to choose from that appear nominally to relate to law. Here is a sample schedule with some notable gems:
Monday evenings start the week off with the critically important course entitled “Evil: The Seminar.” The theological, philosophical, and psychological perspectives of the problem of evil are analyzed in its modern manifestations, with particular reference to the mass atrocities of the twentieth century and the oeuvre of David Lat’s, Above the Law.
Or if that doesn’t strike your fancy, then you could opt for a seminar on Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain,” which is described as an exploration of the “beautifully opaque, disturbingly vital” novel with “(a lot of) ideas,” all of them only tangentially related to law. Among them is whether Naphta’s terrorist totalitarianism is an antidote to Settembrini’s enlightened liberalism. Wine, cheese and large dollops of pretension are provided.
On Tuesdays, it’s a course on “Bargaining with the Devil” which examines whether one should negotiate with evil adversaries such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-Il, or Ann Coulter if in so doing you sell (or at least soil) your soul.
On Wednesdays, it’s the cutting-edge topic of “Japanese Law Film,” which explores the place that law plays within Japanese society and the development of post-war Japanese cinema. Students are required to write three film reviews, one of which must be on Godzilla vs. Mothra: The Battle for Earth, or another film in the Heisei series. Buttered popcorn and large boxes of Milk Duds will be served.
Or if your tastes run European, you can choose to spend a semester studying Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, with special attention to his treatment of early 19th-century American law and the legal profession. Tocqueville’s infatuation with America will be compared and contrasted with the French’s contemporary attitude of horror and disgust toward all things American.
Thursday evenings its “Self, Serenity, and Vulnerability: East and West” which bills itself as a meaningful study of the meaninglessness of human life. It promises a comparison of some of the ways in which philosophy, religion, and art in the East and West have dealt with the fear that our lives and the world itself may be meaningless. The analysis of comparative meaninglessness will include guest lectures by transactional partners at New York and Hong Kong law firms.
Of course if one is a dullard and wished to take rudimentary international law course like public international law, international commercial arbitration, or international human rights law, one could do so I suppose. But you’ll have to settle for adjunct, clinical, or visiting professors.