Tuesday, July 10, 2007

At Penn State the Mind Takes a Backseat to the Wallet

Penn State Dickinson School of Law has a summer program which they call the "Capitals of Europe Program." It is basically a summer camp for law students and lawyers. The program's glossy brochure focuses on all the fun you can have in Europe, but doesn't tell you anything about the course content.
While studying in this program, students will have ample opportunity to appreciate not only Florence but also the rich cultural and social heritage found in the Tuscan setting and sites like Rome, Venice, Pisa, Bologna and Siena.


Florence, the center of the Italian Renaissance, is a showcase for the work of the Medicis, Machiavelli, Dante, Boccaccio, Fra Angelico, Donatello, Giotto, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Cellini, creative geniuses in painting, sculpture, architecture and literature during the Renaissance period. Students are encouraged to experience the
creations of these artisans and to explore the many other cultural amenities throughout Florence and its surrounding areas.

Thanks to Penn State Dickinson's extensive network of contacts in Italy, students on this program will be able to enjoy many unique cultural experiences during their trip. Instead of having a normal tour guide through museums, you will be guided through some of the most treasured works of art by experts in the field. Rooftop potluck dinners and bike tours through the vineyards of Tuscany will provide you with unique settings in which to get to know fellow students and professors.

In addition to recognizing the importance of planned cultural activities during the program, course administrators also appreciate students' desires to have time to explore on their own. Past program participants have spent long weekends enjoying the beach on the Amalfi coast or swimming in the Blue Grotto off of the Isle of Capri. The list of optional weekend trips is limitless.
The brochure which is pitched to non-Dickinson law students and practicing lawyers, leaves little doubt that the program is designed to be a profit center for the law school. The actually content of the program is secondary to the leisure activities which will draw those paying customers.

Another draw to bring those paying customers through the camp gates is the use of United States Supreme Court justices as camp councilors.
The Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr., will offer a 1 credit course on The Supreme Court of the United States in the 2007 Summer Program. Guest lecturers in recent years have also included U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
As anyone in business will tell you, to make money you have to spend money.
Roberts... reported that he’s being paid $15,000 to teach a one-week, one-credit course in Vienna through the Dickinson School of Law, part of Pennsylvania State University.
For fifteen grand you can't ask the Chief Justice to strain himself too much or take too much time out from enjoying the culture of Vienna. He needs a little help.
Chief Justice Roberts will present a one-credit course in collaboration with Professor Richard J. Lazarus.
I am sure that the University is full of fixed-term faculty that would jump at a chance to team teach a one-credit one-week course for $15,000. But that just wouldn't make good business sense for a corporate university.

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