Eight undergraduate students from the Dartmouth College Ethics Institute came to Miami Law recently to explore issues of legal ethics, conflict resolution and community service during an intensive five-day seminar, the first of its kind. The visit was arranged by Miami Law's Center for Ethics and Public Service and its Historic Black Church Program.
At the helm of the seminar were Miami Law Professor Anthony V. Alfieri, a Dean's Distinguished Scholar and Director of CEPS, and Dartmouth Professor Aine Donovan, Director of the Ethics Institute at Dartmouth and a member of the faculty of the Tuck School of Business. After the visit, Professor Donovan wrote to Cynthia McKenzie, the CEPS program manager, to thank her "all you did in planning and executing a simply wonderful week for the Dartmouth students." Professor Donovan said that the eight students had been selected from a group of 45 applicants to participate in the inaugural fellowship.
"The students were selected on the basis of interest in law and public service, grades, involvement in the Dartmouth mediation/conflict resolution program, and commitment to future service," she wrote. "During the week-long program, the students worked with Professor Alfieri to craft a meaningful understanding of the role of law in community organizing. The Dartmouth undergraduates worked with law students and professors in both the classroom and the field, travelling to neighborhoods in the greater Miami area that are undergoing significant shifts in demographics. The students helped in surveying, interviewing, and writing reports about the community changes."
Julia M. Salinger, a sophomore from Terryville, Conn., who is majoring in Psychology at Dartmouth, said she had learned valuable lessons about the importance of community-based initiatives. "I want to go back to my own community and apply what I've learned," she said. The Dartmouth group met with students and professors in Miami Law's clinics and with stakeholders in the Historic Black Church Program's education, research, and oral history projects in Coconut Grove. The students conferred with religious leaders and community organizers who have established programs in conflict resolution. They also visited community advocates at Legal Services of Greater Miami and social entrepreneurs in the Wynwood art community. They stayed with host families and had time to explore Miami's diverse neighborhoods.
The Historic Black Church Program is part of CEPS' ongoing effort to help Miami's distressed Coconut Grove Village West community. The program provides multidisciplinary resources in education, law, and social services to underserved residents by establishing congregation-based church partnerships through the West Grove's sixteen-church Ministerial Alliance.
"One of the things that I have really enjoyed about this week-long seminar is getting to see all the areas in which the UM Law School is involved in the community," said Kelly Brait, a Dartmouth junior from Glenview, Ill., who is majoring in Economics, with a minor in Ethics. She said she is looking forward to using the UM model to improve mediation practices at Dartmouth.
The seminar was separated into intensive morning sessions with law students, with the afternoons devoted to exploring community projects in the greater Miami area.
"Over this past week I have realized how easy it is to get involved and how easy it is to make a difference, and that is something I am going to take home to New Hampshire," said John Howard, a sophomore from Salisbury, N.H., who is majoring in History at Dartmouth. "Of course it is tough work, but in order to take that first step all you need is the will to move. We are starting a mediation conflict resolution program within Dartmouth and also working with underserved areas nearby."
After a busy week of seminars and community meetings, Professor Alfieri observed that the pilot internship project on applied community ethics had been a terrific success. "Our law student fellows and interns enjoyed the opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduates interested in pursuing nonprofit and public service careers," he said, "and the Dartmouth students learned much about the challenges of addressing inner-city poverty and the joys of collaborative partnerships with nonprofit groups in multiracial communities of color."