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UCSD, SDSU partnerships promote broad approach to legal education

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In an increasingly complex profession requiring lawyers to expand their traditional approach to problem solving, California Western offers a range of interdisciplinary programs allowing students to take a broader look at legal education.

A key part of the interdisciplinary approach is educational partnerships between the independent law school, University of California, San Diego, and San Diego State University. Through the partnerships, students can take advantage of an extensive dual-degree program, speaker series programs and special events.

“Our programs with UCSD and SDSU have been very rewarding for the students and for each of the institutions,” said California Western Dean Steven R. Smith. “California Western students receive an education richer in context that provides them a wider perspective on issues they will face as attorneys. UCSD and SDSU gain access to the people and resources of a law school.”

The partnerships between California Western and San Diego’s major educational institutions began in 1996 when the law school and SDSU pioneered within the California State University system a joint degree in law and master’s of social work. That original program has thrived and now is complemented by a joint J.D./M.B.A. degree offered by the two schools.

A seamless educational flow

“California Western and SDSU share the belief that the educational process is not confined to classrooms but flows seamlessly wherever faculty and students come together,” said Stephen L. Weber, president of SDSU and a member of California Western’s Council of Visitors. “Faculty members at both schools exemplify the integrated role of teacher/scholar, enabling students to learn through both interaction and ongoing research efforts and community-based learning projects.”

A constant flow of academic exchange occurs between the law school’s downtown campus and UCSD’s La Jolla campus.

• The second Speaker Series on Human Rights in the New Age of Terror concluded this month and was co-sponsored by the law school’s International Legal Studies Program and UCSD’s Institute for International, Comparative and Area Studies.

• The 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling was celebrated with a lecture by California Western professor-historian Michal Belknap and an original play performed by UCSD’s Department of Theater and Dance.

• Dual-degrees combining a law degree and a Ph.D. in either history or political science prepare students to teach at law schools or universities.

The two schools signed a collaborative agreement that promises to extend the academic exchange. The agreement includes provisions for new academic programs; joint research efforts; facilities sharing, including the libraries; and involvement of faculty and board members in each other’s academic bodies and community outreach programs.

Among the goals of the California Western-UCSD association are new health care-related programs, including a joint Masters in Health Law and a dual-degree J.D./M.D. program.

As an initial step in that direction, California Western appointed Professor Bryan Liang as executive director of the law school’s Institute of Health Law Studies. Liang, who holds law and medical degrees, is also an adjunct associate professor of anesthesiology at UCSD’s School of Medicine and co-director of the medical school’s San Diego Center for Patient Safety at the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

“Our current and planned programs with California Western are excellent examples of our efforts to develop new, highly imaginative means of learning and collaboration,” said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

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