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Technology connects students across cultures and countries

11/28/2012

written by Emily Seiders, news and communications intern

Criminal justice students at Miami University Hamilton discussed comparative justice systems in real time with law students at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, during a tele-class this semester.

Daniel Hall, professor of criminal justice, organized the Hamilton campus’ first live, online class with a university abroad for his students in October.

Miami Hamilton students and students in China in a tele-class.
Miami Hamilton students and students in China in a tele-class.
Fifty-eight Chinese students at Sun Yat-Sen University and seven Miami students participated in the tele-class discussion. Hall said that, according to his contact in China, Professor Guo, the international tele-conference in a classroom setting was a first for Sun Yat-Sen University as well.

Hall’s students asked and answered questions with their Chinese counterparts about varied aspects of the American and Chinese justice systems, including the role of a jury, trial procedures, use of evidence and the death penalty. Miami Hamilton students have been studying these concepts in Hall’s comparative justice systems course, CJS 451.

“My hope is that this [type of interaction] will become routine, not only for CJS 451 but in my other classes,” Hall said. “I would like to see the university create a vehicle where professors make their open seats at such events available to others and where professors share their international contacts with one another, all in an effort to further internationalize our classrooms.”

Hall’s course examines cultural and philosophical influences on international justice systems such as Christian notions of ethics and good behavior, Sharia Law in Islamic societies and Confucian precepts in East Asian countries. Students have visited a local Islamic mosque, discussed various faiths with members of global religions and attended international events as part of the class.

The Miami Hamilton students sparked discussion of the role of Confucianism in the Chinese justice system, while Chinese students inquired about the accuracy of popular American crime dramas like "Law and Order."

Miami professors and staff Chen Ferguson, professor of business technology; James Lipnicky, director of regional campuses technology services; and David Keitges, director of international education, also facilitated the project.

Keitges described the tele-class as “pioneering” and hopes Hall’s use of new technology to foster cross-cultural exchange can be replicated in other courses taught at Miami’s campuses. “As Miami University tries to find ways to continue to ‘internationalize’ [our] campuses, we need models of effective use of technology … this model is very promising,” he said.

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