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Class in Vienna

Courses Offered in Vienna

Vienna 2014 Course:

Trials and Human Rights in the U.S. and Europe, taught by Professor Steve Virgil

This class will give students a comparative overview of the legal protection of human rights in two leading jurisdictions in the world.  Students will be introduced to the main issues relating to the protection of human rights, including the constitutional status of human rights, the role of the courts and how trials proceed.   The class will enable students to engage in a comparative method to study human and civil rights law in different jurisdictions and from that to draw out those general principles that form notions of rights in civil society.

The class will use famous trials involving human rights under both the U.S. and EU systems as case studies and will integrate both field visits and film.  The trials of Amanda Knox (criminal procedure and due process), Princess Carolina von Hannover (right to privacy), Vejdeland v. Sweden (speech/hate speech), and Austin v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (the right to assemble for protest).

Planned visits currently include: the Constitutional Court, human rights law firms, and bar associations.

During the class we will consider the following topics: Theories of Rights: including the U.S. Bill of Rights, Constitution, Civil Rights legislation, the EU Human Rights Charter and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Introduction to Civil Law Tradition, taught by Professor Steve Virgil

This course will focus on the civil law tradition, with a particular emphasis on the Austrian tradition.  The course will begin with an overview of the civil law tradition in Continental Europe and will then shift to the legal system in Austria.  Austria has a rich legal tradition that we will draw upon throughout the course.  We will discuss the history of the Civil Law tradition, the structures of government and court systems found in civil law countries, legal education in those countries and the sources of law.  We will also discuss mechanisms for interpretative analysis and the role of the judicial system in the civil law tradition.  The course will end with a comparative discussion of the civil law and common law traditions, looking again at the role of the courts and the bar in the U.S. and Austria.  The course will include visits to the Austrian Supreme Court and Constitutional Court and will incorporate guest lecturers from the private bar, if available.  The goals of the course are to provide a sound understanding of the civil law tradition and to gain important insights into the common law system and sources of law that apply in the U.S.  Students will be assessed on participation during the class and on an exam that will be given on the last day of class.


Non Wake Forest law students should confirm with their own schools that the credits for this program will be fully transferable. Grades for non-Wake Forest law students will be on a pass/fail basis unless a different arrangement is made with the program director.