If the world is truly a classroom, there is no better place to learn about peace, justice and international courts than in The Hague, Netherlands. This summer, seven Le Moyne students discovered that firsthand when they traveled there as part of a program coordinated by Le Moyne College and Northern Illinois University. While abroad, the undergraduates examined and reflected upon issues inherent in bringing to justice the perpetrators of some of the world’s most serious crimes.

“Traveling to The Netherlands was an amazing experience on its own, with the added value of everything I had the opportunity to study and experience,” said Kailey McDonald ’15, a political science and peace and global studies major. “I believe that immersion is one of the most effective methods of learning, and the (political science course on) The Hague is one of the best examples of immersion I have experienced.”

Throughout the program, students participated in intensive discussions, workshops, and lectures, as well as on-site briefings at international courts. Among the topics they explored were Amsterdam during the Holocaust, Rwandan justice, and global responsibility for justice and genocide prevention. They also met directly with staff from numerous international courts and agencies, and sat in on actual trials. In addition, the students wrote reflections, a case-study response, and a policy brief, while also completing a final project designed to contribute to an international cause.

“This course allows students to understand why international law requires an international effort,” said Delia Popescu, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Political Science, who directed the program along with J.D. Bowers, who now serves as the new director of the Missouri University Honors College. “Courts like the International Criminal Court or the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia distill legal traditions, work across borders, and cooperate with governments to enforce laws; they involve civil society organizations; they use international personnel and integrate languages in their proceedings. It is a phenomenal way of understanding what it takes to make institutions work across borders, and the political will required to hold accountable those guilty of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.”

Beyond being informative, the trip has already changed some of the students’ plans for the future:

“I was so interested and inspired by what I learned and witnessed that I changed my course of study so that I could pursue international law and politics in graduate school,” said McDonald. “Because of the breadth of the subject matter, students from many different disciplines can benefit from this course and apply it to their studies. It’s a very versatile course in those terms, and it is a great asset for students looking to broaden their job marketability and the way they approach learning.”

Read more about the students' trip to The Netherlands in the fall/winter issue of Le Moyne College Magazine.