Students participate in South Africa summer course via Zoom

Since 2004, Professor Rodney Uphoff has taken a group of MU law students to the University of Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa for a summer program comparing the criminal justice system in South Africa with that in the U.S. However, the coronavirus outbreak kept Prof. Uphoff and students from travelling to South Africa. Instead they took part in a joint online course with UWC Professor Cherith Sanger and students.

The three-week two-credit course took place over Zoom in a synchronous format, scheduled to allow for the seven-hour difference in time zones. The MU course entitled Comparative Criminal Justice Administration exposed MU and UWC students to an overview of the theory and actual practice of certain critical features of both the South African and American criminal justice systems. It gave the students an opportunity to discuss issues such as the death penalty with students with a different perspective. Students took the same exam but were graded by Prof. Uphoff or Prof. Sanger according to the MU or UWC grading system.

While Prof. Uphoff is hopeful that the program will return to in-person instruction in South Africa next summer, he thinks the online format worked well. In the future, Zoom could provide opportunities for UWC guest speakers to provide an international perspective in any MU law course throughout the academic year.