Teaching Public Law in a Comparative Paradigm: Virtues and Vices

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Comparison in legal education matters. In its mission statement, the International Society of Public Law suggests that, “a full explication and understanding of today’s ‘constitutional’ [law] cannot take place in isolation from other branches of public law or in a context that is exclusively national”. Not only is comparative content of itself enlightening, but this paper argues comparison as a teaching method has at least four virtues. First, teaching in a comparative paradigm better prepares graduates for an interconnected and global legal marketplace. Second, it helps illuminate curriculum content. Third, it makes for good citizenry. And, fourth, it enhances the research/teaching nexus. In so doing, this paper explores the use of comparative law as a teaching methodology in core public law subjects rather than by way of additional curriculum content. As with all things, however, where there are virtues, there are also vices. In this context, such vices include questions of relevance and threats to space, time and coherence in legal education. To that end, the disadvantages of comparative approaches in teaching public law are also considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-118
Number of pages17
JournalThe Law Teacher
Issue number1
Early online date30 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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