Last Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of spending some time at a symposium featuring the work of 15 Temple Law & Public Policy Scholars. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, the Scholars are Temple Law students who have completed an immersive summer experience in Washington D.C., led by Professor Nancy Knauer. Professor Knauer conducts the course as an integrated learning community. The students work during the day at high level, policy-oriented internships, spend evenings in a class on institutional change, and enjoy mentorship from Temple Law graduates working in D.C. Through the integration of these experiences, students achieve a deeper understanding of the reciprocal relationship among theory, experience, and professionalism. Of particular excitement, the Scholars work collaboratively (a 21st century innovation in legal education), supporting and encouraging each other’s work, while individually preparing white papers related to their internship position. After just two years in operation, the Law & Public Policy Program is already delivering impressive results.
Each Scholar at the symposium presented an innovative policy proposal addressing a current pressing social or economic issue – often of national or even international significance. They were organized in five panels along the following themes:
- Financial Regulation and the Public Interest
- New Approaches to Problem Solving: Courts, Conflict, and the Environment
- Sexuality, Violence, and the State
- The Power of Markets
- Responding to the Information Revolution
I watched with pride as the students presented their ideas with confidence and authority, and then fielded questions from a very engaged audience. I was also impressed with the sophistication of the proposals themselves, which were far from being merely academic arguments. These were proposals designed to have impact in the relevant policy arenas.
We like to say at Temple Law that our students excel in making things happen, and these Scholars are no exception. Several of them have already been involved or influential in policy changes at very high levels. Some have already been sought out as experts on their points of interest. All 15 will be presenting their papers in May at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association, a forum typically reserved for faculty. I have no doubt that their contributions to that forum, and to our profession, will make everyone at Temple Law very proud. And they are just the latest example of our efforts to ensure that our students are prepared – well-prepared – for 21st century practice.