International Law Scholar Uses Teaching Methods to Garner Enthusiasm
December 2, 2008 – Anthony Arend stands in front of a bewildered group of students in class, continuously jumping up and down.
“I’m a state,” the professor of government and foreign service explains to the curious students.
The professor decided to use this round of early morning aerobics to illustrate customary law, which consists of laws that aren’t codified but are still practiced by countries as a matter of course.
Nonstop Academic Energy
Arend, the new director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program, is widely known around Georgetown for his nonstop energy.
“I want to make sure we examine issues in an academic and analytic way, and also in a way that’s as fun as possible,” he says
That often proves to be a daunting task since the professor’s primary research area deals with the serious nature of international law and military force.
“The facts of the world, unfortunately, provide fertile areas for me to explore and examine,” Arend says. “What I’m dealing with now is the treatment of detainees, torture and the so-called war on terror in a post-9/11 world.”
Mathew Cahill (G’10), a student in the MSFS program, takes Arend’s graduate course, International Law and War, this fall.
“He brings these subjects to life,” Cahill says. “He’s a very good discussion leader because while he guides our conversations, he never overwhelms them.”
That teaching style has garnered notice at Georgetown, where Arend’s accolades include the 2004 Dorothy Brown Award and the 2002 Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Award, both awarded for faculty excellence.
“I work at a world-class university,” Arend says, “and I have the opportunity to be creative, think about how we can better meet students’ needs and work with faculty and staff who are amazing – and that’s fun.”
Continuing Research, Classroom Conversations
The professor is working with co-authors Robert Beck and Catherine Lotrionte on the second edition of International Law and the Use of Force: Beyond the U.N. Charter Paradigm (Routledge, 1993). The scholars examine how international law restricts states’ use of force and the legal implications of using force, and will address more recent cases, such as disputes in Somalia and Rwanda and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Arend keeps up conversations on such issues through his blog – Exploring International Law, where daily updates expound upon classroom lessons. By providing legal analysis for current events, such as treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Arend juxtaposes laws versus actions.
“Professor Arend is able to step outside politics when he’s discussing these things,” Cahill says. “He asks us to think through what the United States is obligated to do according to the law, and compare that to what the government is actually doing.”
Arend says it’s gratifying that so many of his students visit the blog and often suggest topics for inclusion.
“Georgetown students are able to engage in serious international issues academically, and not emotionally,” Arend explains.
He hastens to add that neither he nor his students are detached from their scholarship.
“But there are times you need to step back and look at the question academically,” he says. “Until you understand it academically, you can’t take it to the next policy level.”