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Jorge Avendaño Receives 2008 Wisconsin Global Citizen Award

December 4, 2008

Jorge Avendaño, professor of law at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, will receive the 2008 Division of International Studies Wisconsin Global Citizen Award.

Avendaño demonstrated outstanding leadership in the study of international law and furthered collaborative relations between the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and legal and Latin American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Friday, December 12, 2008

4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Lubar Commons

7200 Law School

UW–Madison Law School in Action: 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of a UW–Madison program that reformed the teaching of judicial studies in Peru

Between 1968 and 1972, groups of young Peruvian lawyers, recent graduates from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), traveled from Lima to the UW–Madison Law School to study and reflect on how to reform the teaching of law in their country. Conceived by the dean of the Law School of the PUCP, Jorge Avendaño, and carried out in collaboration with UW–Madison law professor Zigards Zile, the program is credited with transforming the Peruvian legal education system. The men who participated in it – now-influential Peruvians – are recognized throughout Peru for their UW–Madison connection, and came to be known to some as the “Wisconsin Boys.”

Each year of the program, three junior professors from Católica attended a ten-week summer colloquium called “Rethinking Legal Education.” During the fall semester, they then prepared new teaching materials for their courses, informed by a teaching style that emphasized extensive student involvement, including problem solving with legal research and classroom discussion. This was a radical shift from the traditional lecture-based teaching in Peru. Senior law professors from Católica also traveled to Madison in the summers for a week of discussion with their junior colleagues and UW–Madison law professors.

The Ford Foundation funded the project in the context of a movement by the U.S. government and foundations to advance the development of law and legal institutions in Latin America.

According to Lorenzo Zolezzi, who studied in Madison in 1968, the Peruvian law professors were attracted to Wisconsin’s progressive tradition, “Wisconsin had in 1968 something that none of the other schools had: a team of professors who represented the ‘Law in Action’ movement, [which demonstrated] that it was necessary to question everything, necessary also to question the role of the law and lawyers in society,” Zolezzi says.

The junior professors not only returned to Peru with a new curriculum to train the next generation of lawyers. Inspired to consider the law an instrument for social change, they went on to occupy some of the most influential legal and government posts in Peru, including minority leader in the Peruvian congress, minister of foreign affairs, Peruvian ambassador to the U.S., and dean of Católica’s Law School.

Crucial to the program’s success, was UW–Madison Law School’s commitment to a high level of academic freedom, and the strong presence of the Latin American Area Studies Program, which fostered a regional social science perspective on campus.

At its center, the success of the project was UW–Madison’s dedication to the Wisconsin Idea, and illustrates that applying the university’s knowledge and expertise beyond the classroom can improve citizens’ quality of life throughout the world.

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