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Last Updated July 18, 2008

AU Centers, Institutes and Programs

American University hosts several centers, institutes, and programs that focus on research, teaching, and development of selected topics and ideas, including the following:

Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Claudia Martin and Diego Rodriguez-Pinzon, codirectors) provides specialized legal training in human rights law and is the first of its kind offered in both Spanish and English. In defending individual victims in international forums, advocating change in domestic human rights legislation, or protecting the economic and social rights of our communities, our "global village" requires practitioners who understand the scope and practical implications of the rules and mechanisms.

American University of Sharjah (AUS) is a nonprofit, independent, coeducational institution of higher education formed on the American model.  Established in 1997, the university is committed to a vision of itself as an independent institution on the American model, thoroughly grounded in Arab culture and serving the educational needs of the diverse populations of the region. Sharjah has a comprehensive partnership agreement with American University in Washington, D.C., that calls for AU to provide the senior management personnel for AUS.  The agreement encourages exchanges of students and faculty as well as the development of other joint programs and endeavors.

AU Abroad (Sara Dumont, director) provides a fully administered semester abroad that includes college courses, interesting speakers, challenging internships, comfortable living arrangements, and cultural learning trips. Students have the opportunity to earn college credit, learn a foreign language, and gain international work experience and contacts. AU Abroad offers more than 80 programs in 33 geographic locations around the world. In 2005, almost 800 AU students partook in an international experience, and 60 percent of all AU students will have a study abroad experience before they graduate. Sites include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.

Center for Asian Studies ( Quansheng Zhao, director) promotes understanding of Asia through its multidisciplinary programs, student and faculty exchange programs, conferences and public dialogue, research, and publications.

Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (James Thurber, director) provides an integrated teaching, research, and study program focusing on Congress, the presidency, and the interactions between these two basic American institutions. The center, established in 1979, provides a scholarly organization uniquely able to draw on its Washington, D.C., location in the very heart of the events shaping Congress and the presidency. The center conducts the biannual Campaign Management Institute and the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute.

Center for Democracy and Election Management (Robert Pastor, director) educates and trains undergraduate and graduate students and midcareer professionals in the management of elections and best democratic practices. The center was stablished in 2002 and organizes its teaching and research programs around three subjects: the management and conduct of elections throughout the world; cross-regional comparison of democratic institutions; and election-mediation as an instrument for resolving civil conflicts. It is currently home to the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform.

Center for Environmental Filmmaking (Chris Palmer, director) nurtures a new generation of natural history, wildlife and environmental filmmakers and produces films that are entertaining, ethically sound and educationally powerful. The center was established in 2005 to counter the current trends toward sensationalism and encourage the creation of environmental and wildlife films that are entertaining, conservation-oriented and socially responsible.

Center for Global Peace (Abdul Aziz Said, director) supports programs and initiatives that advance the study and understanding of world peace and are grounded in a search for a just and sustainable world order. By seeking to better understand the social, political, cultural, economic, and civic structures whose deterioration can lead to violence and social upheaval, the center identifies and supports measures to restore and enhance peace.

Center for the Global South (Clovis Maksoud, director) is a multidimensional intellectual resource that examines critical issues affecting the poorer developing countries of the world, increasingly characterized collectively as the Global South. The center, stablished in 1992, raises awareness of the challenges and the potential facing the region, provides policy analysis, and provides opinion and policy makers with input from the Global South on an ongoing basis.

Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Hadar Harris, executive director) coordinates the Washington College of Law’s human rights efforts. Established in 1990, the center integrates the talents of the law school's faculty, students, and researchers to create innovative programs that strengthen respect for and advance the application of the interrelated fields of human rights and humanitarian law. The center creates opportunities for students to engage in advanced legal training and research projects, conference and seminar sponsorship, and publications.

Center for Information Technology and the Global Economy (William DeLone, director) aspires to be a preeminent thought leader in business issues at the intersection of information technology (IT) and globalization. The center focuses on significant issues pertaining to the impact of globalization and IT on firms and their business practices, undertakes cutting-edge research to shed light on critical issues related to business issues and actively seeks opportunities for Kogod School of Business faculty to learn about the organizational DNA required to thrive in the business world of the twenty-first century.

Center for Israeli Studies (Russell Stone, director) was created to celebrate, examine, and interpret the rich landscape of Israel as a nation and a people. The Center for Israeli Studies is the administrative headquarters for the Association for Israeli Studies—the international professional association that conducts research and organizes conferences on the problems of modern Israel and its history.

Center for North American Studies (Robert Pastor, director) provides an educational experiment that teaches a new generation of students about the history, economics, politics, and societies of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, including their past differences and their future prospects as parts of an exciting new regional entity.

Center for Social Media (Patricia Aufderheide, director) showcases and analyzes strategies to use media as creative tools for public knowledge and action. It focuses on social documentaries for civil society and democracy, and on the public media environment that supports them. Since its founding in 2001, the center has organized film festivals and panel discussions and conducted research geared toward independent filmmakers, activists, researchers, and media specialists.

Center for the Study of Rulemaking ( Cornelius M. Kerwin , director) seeks to examine and improve the processes and techniques government agencies use to develop regulations. Drawing on the scholarship and experience of the American University faculty, the center involves experts from the public and private sectors, as well as the larger academic community, in its efforts to understand and improve our rulemaking processes.

Center for Teaching Excellence (John Richardson, director) helps AU faculty develop their teaching skills, especially faculty members using computers and the Web.

Civil Practice Clinic (David Chavkin, director) is a one-semester clinic where second- and third-year law students represent low-income clients in such areas as bankruptcy, consumer rights, family law, health, housing, public benefits, and special education. Student attorneys use a range of legal skills on behalf of clients in settings that may include administrative tribunals and trial courts in the District of Columbia. Student attorneys work together in two-person teams.

Community and Economic Development Law Clinic (Susan Bennett, director) provides transactional legal services for client groups engaged in different kinds of neighborhood-based community development. CEDLC represents and helps to organize small nonprofits and businesses, tenants' associations in the public and private sectors, and micro-entrepreneurs, all of whom share the goal of developing different kinds of resources for greatly underserved urban communities. The clinic is open to both second- and third-year law students.

Council on Comparative Studies (Saul Newman, director) was formed in 1999 to advance comparative international studies at American University and to create a common forum for faculty and students with broad interests in comparative and international politics, social change, and political economy.

Criminal Justice Clinic (Binny Miller, director) has been in existence for more than 25 years, making it the law school's oldest clinic. Most students spend one semester defending juvenile and criminal cases in Montgomery County, Maryland, and one semester prosecuting cases in Maryland. The clinic offers a one-semester defense option.

Criminal Trial Practice Program (David E. Aaronson, director) helps student attorneys develop pragmatic and productive trial skills. Student attorneys focus on trial strategies, opening statements, direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and closing arguments. On a team basis, student attorneys assume responsibility for preparation and trial presentations. The program allows each student to participate directly in every phase of a complete jury trial. A trial court judge teaches each section with a faculty member experienced at the trial bar.

D.C. Law Students in Court (Ann Marie Hay, director) offers an opportunity to obtain litigation experience in landlord-tenant and small claims cases in the D.C. Superior Court. Students appear frequently in a variety of court proceedings, including bench and jury trials, applications for emergency relief, motions hearings and other matters relating to landlord-tenant cases, as well as small claims matters. Students learn and apply various lawyering skills while representing clients under the supervision of experienced attorneys.

 Disability Rights Law Clinic (Robert Dinerstein, director) is a two-semester clinic in which law students, under faculty supervision, represent clients in a variety of areas and venues related to disability law and people with disabilities (both mental and physical), including cases of special education, guardianship proceedings, grievance proceedings within the D.C. Department of Mental Health, cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act and disability cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Domestic Violence Clinic (Jane Stoever, director) enables student attorneys to spend one semester representing individual victims of domestic violence seeking civil protection orders and another semester prosecuting domestic violence crimes at the U.S. Attorney's Office. Students gain experience in family and criminal law arenas and in different roles as government attorneys and as private counsel. This experience allows them to evaluate the benefits and limits of these interventions into the complex problem of domestic violence and the implications for the quality of a litigator's practice.

Global Intellectual Property Project (Renee Marlin-Bennett, chair) is an interdisciplinary council of faculty at American University who share an interest in various aspects of intellectual property issues. Established in 1994, the project brings together experts from a range of disciplines to explore the impact of today’s and tomorrow’s revolutionary changes in communications and technology on information, creative endeavors, and innovation.

Glushko–Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic (Peter Jaszi, director) prepares students to be effective and thoughtful practitioners through direct experience in this rapidly evolving area. Students learn a range of essential lawyering skills and acquire a critical understanding of the values and value conflicts that shape the development of intellectual property law and policy. Through its activities, the clinic promotes the public interest in copyright, patent, trademark, and related fields.

Institute for Strategic Communication for Nonprofits offers seminars where participants study best practices and innovative communication strategies that are adaptable to nonprofit organizations. The institute, established in May 2003, provides opportunities for participants to network with other nonprofit communication professionals, develop solutions to their own organizational communication problems, and gain direct experience from industry leaders.

Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation (Robert Tobias, director) creates a nonpartisan forum for stakeholders in the public policy implementation system (members of Congress, political appointees, career government executives, mid-level manager association leaders, union leaders, academics, and the consulting and technology community) to meet in a safe, facilitated environment to discuss policy implementation efforts.

Intercultural Management Institute (Gary Weaver, director) recognizes the vital role culture plays in international business. The institute offers training programs and consulting services that provide organizations with information they need to manage cultural differences and flourish in the new global economy.

International Arbitration Project (Horacio Grigera Naón, director) was created to analyze the practical and theoretical issues surrounding the development of international commercial arbitration the world over. The project is committed to building a world community by identifying transnational legal issues and addressing these issues through the expertise of our accomplished full- and part-time faculty, alumni, and practitioners. The lines dividing world economies continue to blur, creating the need for business practitioners who understand the legal implications of their actions.

International Human Rights Law Clinic (Richard Wilson, director) offers students the opportunity to represent individuals, families, or organizations alleging violations of recognized or developing human rights norms before international and domestic judicial bodies. Casework involves international human rights claims and domestic political asylum cases. In the human rights area, students present evidence, witnesses, and arguments in written and oral proceedings and often struggle with issues of client contact and fact-gathering over long distances with difficult means of communication.

International Institute for Health Promotion (Robert Karch, director) seeks effective solutions to challenges for the advancement and application of health promotion concepts. The institute accomplishes this through the facilitation and development of collaborative strategies, research and education initiatives, and communication networks.

Justice Programs Office (Joseph Trotter, director) engages in training, technical assistance, and research and provides information and publications to government officials and the general public to strengthen awareness of public accountability of government agencies, the ethical responsibilities and standards of performance of government employees, and the cultural and historical foundations of the role of courts in a democratic society.

National Capital Area Innocence Project (Binny Miller, faculty coordinator) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 in response to increasing evidence that the American criminal justice system is failing in its most critical functions: the conviction of the guilty and the exoneration of the innocent. The project brings together law students, attorneys, and advocates to provide post-conviction relief to prisoners in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia who have provable claims of innocence but lack the resources to pursue those claims.

National Center for Health Fitness (Robert Karch, director) provides leadership for the nation in the areas of health risk identification and lifestyle improvement. The center, established in 1980, stays abreast of the growing and changing needs of the health fitness industry and profession, stays at the forefront of the nation's health fitness issues, and maintains the center’s established leadership position as the premier health fitness academic center.

National Training Laboratory Program (Katherine Farquahar, director) is a leader in developing organization development practitioners and organizational leaders. Drawing on the unique combination of resources of American University and the NTL Institute, the program offers an MS degree in organization development that provides students with a solid theoretical and experiential foundation for entering and developing in this field of practice.

School of Public Affairs Leadership Program (Margaret Marr, director) fosters leadership talents and instructs students in practical skills. The program offers course work, seminars, community service projects, and other team-building activities that encourage students to go out and use those talents and skills as a means to effect positive social change.

Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic (Nancy Abramowitz, acting director) is a one-semester clinic that teaches students the skills involved in representing low-income clients who have commercial/business controversies. The clinic also seeks to provide legal assistance to a class of individuals caught up in a complex adminstrative and judicial system who otherwise would be unrepresented.

Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (Louise Shelley, director) is the first center in the United States devoted to teaching, research, training, and formulating policy advice in transnational crime, corruption, and terrorism. The center, established in 1995, seeks to better understand the causes and scope of transnational crime and corruption and to propose well-grounded policy to reduce and eliminate these problems. The growing phenomena of transnational crime and corruption present a formidable challenge to the protection of national and international security, economic development, democratic reform, and human rights. Systemic corruption in one country often contributes to crime and terror at the global level, and thus is a problem the international community must face.

War Crimes Research Office (Susana SáCouto, director) provides legal support and technical assistance to the International War Crimes Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Since August 1995, the office has been conducting substantive legal research on questions of international humanitarian law and comparative criminal law.

Washington Semester American Indian Program (Jack Soto, director) offers American Indian students the opportunity to gain impressive work experience, learn firsthand the inner workings of a government agency, and meet other American Indian students from across the country.

Washington Semester Program (Dave Brown, dean) is the oldest, most prestigious, and most well-known experiential education program in the world. Since 1947, students from more than 175 universities and nearly 40 international institutions have come to Washington, D.C., for a semester spent in the classroom and at internships throughout the metropolitan area. Students receive 12–16 credit hours during the semester and attend classes in government, peace and conflict resolution, international affairs, economics, law, media, international business, and the arts. The program has a reputation among top-tier schools as being the academic internship program.

Women & Politics Institute (Karen O’Connor, director), established in 2000, is dedicated to advancing the study and discussion of women and politics, promoting opportunities for women in politics and involving scholars and current political leaders in issues of concern to women.

Women and the Law Clinic (Ann Shalleck, director) is a program where students represent clients in domestic violence, child neglect, and support cases in the District of Columbia, as well as any legal matters that help the client address underlying problems that brought her into the legal system. The clinic has nine students, six of whom, working in teams, have full responsibility for representing clients in the in-house clinic, and three of whom, also working in teams, have an externship placement, assisting attorneys appointed by the District of Columbia Superior Court to represent parents, children, or other parties in child neglect cases. The nine clinic students are certified to practice in the District of Columbia courts and work under the close supervision of faculty supervisors.

Women and the Law Program (Ann Shalleck, director) focuses on the legal, social, cultural, educational, and political issues facing women. The program’s goals are to contribute to research and advocacy concerning women and the law, further awareness of how the law affects women’s lives and women’s positions within the institutions of the legal system, and to change legal education to fully incorporate the experiences of women into all aspects of the curriculum and teaching.



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