Celebrating Twenty Years of the Fordham Summer School

The Fordham Summer School group  (2017) with the Joint Secretary of the North South Ministerial Council

UCD Sutherland School of Law this year is celebrating twenty years partnering with Fordham Law School, New York for their Summer School programme. Over this time, a significant number of law students and professors from Fordham Law School have travelled to Ireland for a Summer programme designed to build relationships between Fordham, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.  Students study international law and conflict resolution in both Belfast and Dublin and experience first-hand its impact on both cities. 

The programme offers 40 externships providing the opportunity to work with some of the best barristers, solicitors, and judges in Dublin and Belfast to allow students build an international network.  This year because of the travel restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 crisis, the Fordham Summer School took place online but plans are already underway for it to take place again in Ireland in 2021.

To celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the Fordham Summer School we asked one of our alumni, Aodhán Peelo, to write a piece about his experience of the programme in 2017.  At the time he was studying Law with Philosophy at UCD Sutherland School of Law, he is now a Strategy Consulting Analyst at Accenture, having graduated from UCD in 2018.

‘In summer 2017, I and three friends from UCD found ourselves on the Belfast train, traveling to join the first leg of the Fordham University Summer School. We were greeted by an uncharacteristically sunny day, and an entirely characteristically warm welcome from Professors Martin, Lazebnik and Feerick.

We spent one full week hosted by Queens University Belfast, studying 'Human Rights and Resolving Conflict in Northern Ireland', before returning to Dublin for the second leg of learning. The full course was a chance to experience the U.S. Socratic style of learning at its best. From the start, we dived into class discussions that were as fascinating as they were challenging. As well as lessons from Fordham’s professors, the course offered a unique chance to learn from leading academics and activists in both Belfast and Dublin. Each shared their experiences and expertise of putting human rights into practice.

The Fordham programme made a particular effort to bring academic discussions to pragmatic conclusions. After two weeks of readings, discussions and lectures, I was caught off guard by the exam question - ‘ Are human rights more a distraction than critical to the process...?’. But having had the course we did, it wasn’t difficult to decide which way to argue. The range of distinguished guests all spoke to one theme - What can be done to make rights frameworks a reality?.  I think it was this focussed pragmatism that made their enthusiasm so infectious. The warmth and insight from students and lecturers alike made a fantastic course, and fabulous memories.’