International Immersion Program

Students with Professor Tom Ginsburg on the 2016 IIP trip to Japan
Students on the 2016 IIP trip to Japan

The University of Chicago Law School launched the International Immersion Program (IIP) in February 2012 to provide support to students seeking substantive, immersive international experiences and to help prepare students to enter an increasingly globalized profession. Students in the immersion program have an opportunity to travel on a short term study trip to a foreign country during their breaks and learn about international and comparative law through seminars with legal scholars, meetings with professionals at law firms, businesses, international organizations, government institutions, and exchanges with alumni and local law students.

To date, the Law School has funded more than a hundred students on a dozen immersion trips to countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. Each trip has a theme and includes classes in the host country on the trip’s topic, meetings with attorneys, meetings with judges and policy makers, meetings with alumni, and a service component. Trips also include visits to other sites related to the trip’s topic (health clinics, schools, etc.). Students are expected to participate in training sessions in advance of traveling, and to write a research paper and share their experiences with the Law School community at a post trip seminar.

Past trips include such destinations as Argentina, Bahrain, Belize, Chile, China, Cuba, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, The Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Qatar, Thailand, UAE and Vietnam and cover such topics as law and economic development, comparative constitutional law, international human rights law, international trade and investment law, etc.

As just a few examples, in addition to several seminars on Chinese law, the students who traveled to China met with attorneys at large law firms and major corporations to learn more about legal issues and explore job opportunities in China. The students who traveled to Belize worked with different NGOs in Belize on issues related to disaster relief law, various human rights issues, and land rights. The students who traveled to Vietnam, in addition to attending an introductory course on Vietnamese law and visits to law firms and NGOs, participated in a workshop with members of the country’s Constitution Revision Committee to discuss proposed constitutional amendments, setting up a constitutional review body, and improving provisions on human rights protection.  Students who traveled to Cuba took courses on various aspects of the Cuban legal system taught by professors, lawyers, and judges; met with municipal court judges; toured the University of Havana; met with business owners; visited a health clinic; visited cultural sites; and received a briefing from the Political Chief of the U.S. Mission in Havana.

International Immersion Program 2020-2021 plan: Due to the ongoing risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, The University of Chicago continues the suspension of university-sponsored international and domestic travel until further notice. Once the University of Chicago travel restrictions have been lifted and international travel is possible again, the Law School will invite students to apply for the IIP trips. FYI, for the 2020-2021 school year, the Law School plans to organize several Spring Break trips in March 2021 and some of the destinations under consideration are 1) China-Uzbekistan; 2) Hong Kong-Taiwan; 3)Tanzania-Kenya; and 4) Brazil. 

Students interested in the 2020-2021 IIP please email Aican Nguyen at aican@uchicago.edu with further questions or suggestions.