More than 300 people, including Georgia State Law professors Lisa Radtke Bliss, Kendell Kerew and Sylvia Caley (MBA ’86, J.D. ’89), attended Breaking Down Walls: The Transformative Power of Justice Education, the 9th annual Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) worldwide conference in Puebla, Mexico. Programming included a multi-day conference with plenaries and concurrent sessions at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and a teacher training workshop on practical aspects for implementing justice education at the Universidad Autónoma of Tlaxcala.
Bliss, clinical professor and associate dean of experiential education and co-director of the Health Law Partnership Legal Services Clinic, serves on the GAJE board. She presented Using the Principles of “Giving Voice to Values” to Help Students Promote Social Justice with Kerew, assistant clinical professor and director of the Externship Program and other practitioners.
“We participated in a concurrent presentation at the 2017 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education with other clinicians who had an interest in and experience with applying the decision-making framework described in Mary Gentile’s book, Giving Voice to Values, to both live-client clinic and externship teaching,” Kerew said. “The feedback received was quite enthusiastic, so the same group proposed and presented a similar concurrent session with a focus on social justice at the GAJE conference.”
The session explored how “Giving Voice to Values” (GVV) helps students identify their values, consider what holds them back from acting on them and discover alternative strategies that are consistent with their values. Each participant took away ideas for how to implement the GVV approach in their teaching and work with students to promote social justice.
This was the first time Kerew attended and presented at an international conference. She hoped to learn from and contribute to a global perspective on clinical and externship programs and teaching techniques.
“I found the overall experience of presenting and attending extremely worthwhile,” Kerew said. “The GAJE conference presented a unique opportunity for me to engage with the international clinical community. Not only was I able to discuss clinical pedagogy with clinicians from around the world, I was also able to contribute to that discussion. No matter the country of origin, those teaching clinical and externship courses are interested in a lot of the same learning outcomes for our students.”
Caley, clinical professor, co-director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic and director of the Health Law Partnership, has supported the GAJE for many years and presented Vulnerable Patients and End-of-Life Decision-making: Engaging Students.
The presentation included case studies highlighting how students worked to improve existing laws that support end-of-life decision-making among vulnerable patients and improving access to palliative care for children. Caley also outlined the benefits of student involvement in addressing the social determinants of health, improving health literacy among vulnerable populations and developing a Health in All Policies approach to end-of-life care.
In addition to presenting, Caley enjoyed collaborating and exchanging ideas with attendees.
“Discussing ‘what works and what doesn’t’ with international colleagues improves my work. Frequently, I find that my challenges are similar to those experienced by others,” Caley said. “Analyzing our approaches to teaching at Georgia State Law and Health Law Partnership cases through a different lens adds perspective and often leads to improvement.”
Kerew agrees that engaging with international colleagues brings value back to Georgia State Law.
“Presenting to international audiences expands the reach and impact of our scholarship and teaching. Moreover, it gives us the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge teaching techniques that are being used in other countries and bring them back to Georgia State Law students through our teaching,” she said.
Bliss also was the primary co-designer and co-chair of the conference’s train-the-trainer workshop for approximately 120 attendees. She, along with other professors, demonstrated multiple interactive learning methods and how to put together a lesson plan. Participants then worked together in small groups to design new lessons plans incorporating the concepts they learned.
“The TOT workshop format allows us to create a supportive learning environment where teachers are willing to take some risks and practice new teaching techniques that they can incorporate into their courses after they return home,” Bliss said. “TOT participants work in small groups with facilitators. It is a place where deep learning occurs because the participants are working so hard. At the same time, new professional connections are being made.”
Last October, Caley delivered the keynote, “Collaborative Diagnosis: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health to Improve Well-being,” at the first Australian national conference on health justice partnerships in Melbourne. Sponsored by Health Justice Australia, the conference brought together practitioners, policy makers and funders to discuss health justice partnerships, known as medical-legal partnerships in the United States, and ways to improve the health and well-being of patients.
While in Australia, Caley participated in a round-table discussion about health justice partnerships with representatives from the State of Victoria government, and met with community leaders, as well as researchers at the University of Technology Sydney.