Students will get an international education on what's legal, what isn't

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Students will get an international education on what's legal, what isn't

In Norway, drunk driving is a major no-no, with stiff fines. The more money you make, the stiffer the penalties.

"A strong cough syrup will put you over the very restrictive line Norway has established for blood alcohol limits," said UND Law faculty member Bradley Myers, who also has directed the school's summer law program in Norway for 10 years. The program was founded by former UND School of Law Dean Jeremy Davis.

Juries? Not so much – for your first trial in court, you face a panel of judges, and if the prosecution doesn't like the verdict, you can be prosecuted again.

That's Norwegian law – and understanding such differences from American law is the core reason why Myers encourages students to do the School of Law's summer program at the American College of Norway (ACN) in Moss, Norway.

This week Meyers, director of the program, and Law faculty member Julia Ernst, are traveling to ACN to teach four UND law students the finer points of Norwegian and comparative legal systems. Myers has taught in the summer program several times and will teach the two-week block about Norwegian law; this is Ernst's first time in the program, for which she'll teach comparative legal systems.

Myers and Ernst will also lead students on several law-oriented excursions, including one to a famous Norwegian prison.

"The goal of this program is to help students see that there are different ways of seeing things," said Myers. "This used to be an exchange program, but we recast it a couple of years ago as a study abroad program. ACN is graciously helpful in allowing us to use their facilities to run this program."

There are many other key differences that might surprise American law students: for example, Norwegian prisons are considered by many – even in Europe – to be too posh.

"In Norway, incarceration is considered strictly rehabilitative, not punitive," said Myers. "Prisoners in Norway live relatively well, each with their own room with a big-screen TV and other amenities, and they either go to school or work. Prison guards undergo rigorous training and their police officers are similarly very well trained. Another difference, in Norway, all tax records are public records, so you can easily look up your next door neighbor's or your boss's income."

Ernst said she's excited for this first-time opportunity to teach in the summer abroad law program.

"We'll be there for the Syttende Mai [Norwegian Constitution Day] celebrations," said Ernst, who'll teach a two-week course in international and comparative law, covering a range of legal issues with an intense reading list.

The summer program is closely tied to the Law School's overall strategy aimed at more active learning, Ernst said.

Juan Miguel Pedraza

University and Public Affairs writer

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