INTERNATIONAL LAW TEACHING
Investigated by Prof. G. G. Wilson and Other Authorities.
One of the committees of the American International Law Society, whose three days' session recently concluded at Washington, was that on the study and teaching of international law and related subjects. The committee is one whose membership includes men who are recognized as leaders in the study and teaching of the subject, being made up of the following: Professor G. G. Wilson, professor of international law in the University; Professor P. Brown, of Princeton; Professor A. S. Hershey, of Indiana University; Professor C. C. Hyde, of Northwestern University; Professor H. P. Judson, of the University of Chicago; Mr. Robert Lansing, Secretary of State; Professor J. S. Reeves, of the University of Michigan; Mr. A. H. Snow, of Washington, D. C.; and Mr. J. B. Scott, recording secretary of the society.
"While recognizing the gratifying increase in instruction," the report says, "an investigation seems to show that there are great differences in the conditions under which instruction in international law and kindred subjects is carried on throughout the United States. Students are seeking institutions offering satisfactory courses on these subjects. There is particularly in consequence of recent changes a growing interest in international affairs. Educational institutions desirous of meeting the demands are accordingly providing courses upon international law and international relations; but the committee is of the opinion that the importance of the subject in general merits a much greater development.
"A course of instruction of one year, divided between international law as a system of law and the application of its principles in international relations is regarded as a minimum. Experience seems to show that better results are obtained by consecutive rather than by concurrent study of these subjects when only one year is possible, i.e., a half year of international law followed by a half year of international relations, rather than a division of the periods in each week between these subjects. Where it is not at present possible to give adequate courses in international law and international relations, more attention should be given to diplomatic history. Where possible, a full year or more should be given to each subject.
"In order that there may be full value in the occasional lecture or course of lectures by an expert introduced from without the institution, every effort should be made to make such lectures a part of the systematic work of the student, for which the student shall be responsible as for other lectures in the course, and in some instances students should have special preliminary training in order to gain from the expert all that may be possible. Such lectures, if worthy of introduction, should be scientific and should not be made additional work or optional, but an integral part of the course. This point of view is essential for the student and stimulating to the lecturer. It is said that in many sections of the country a course may be given in one or more institutions by a lecturer or instructor from a neighboring institution, or several institutions may co-operate in securing a non-resident lecturer for definite periods.
"While at present no attempt to standardize the instruction in international law is made, the following recommendations are approved: In the teaching of international law emphasis should be laid on the positive nature of the subject and the definiteness of the rules. In order to emphasize the positive character of international law, the widest possible use should be made of cases and concrete facts in international experience. In the teaching of international law care should be exercised to distinguish the accepted rules of international law from questions of international policy. In a general course in international law, the practice of no one country should be given weight out of proportion to the strictly international principles it may illustrate.
Looking for means to bring about wider study of international law and more general recognition of its importance, the committee says: "Not merely should the attention of state bar examiners be called to international law as a subject of importance, but the matter may well be considered by the American Bar Association and also by the American Association of Law Schools."
The committee approves, and reported as partly carried out, the following recommendations: That steps be taken to bring to the attention of every college at present not offering instruction in international law the importance of this subject and the readiness of the American Society of International Law, through its standing committee on the study and teaching of international law and related subjects, to co-operate with such institutions in introducing or stimulating instruction."