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The University of Chile is the country’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, and has more than 23,000 students at its 13 campuses located in downtown Santiago. The University of Chile School of Law has several renowned programs including the Center for Human Rights, the Center for Environmental Law, and the Center for the Study of Law and Information, and past program participants have recommended mining, telecommunication, and human rights law classes as particularly challenging and worthwhile. The law school’s faculty is made up of practicing lawyers as well as professional academics, lending course material substantive practical elements alongside of theoretical context.
Chile is a fascinating place to study law, especially in the comparative Latin American context. Significant social debates in Chile are currently making world headlines, from human rights abuses to the increasingly active demands of indigenous groups. At the same time, Chile is a stable democracy with one of the strongest economies in Latin America. It has recently signed free trade agreements with the United States (the only country in South America to have done so), the European Union, and numerous Asian countries. Santiago, the capital of Chile, is conveniently located approximately one hour west of the spectacular Andes Mountains and one hour east of the Pacific Ocean. The University of Chile is located in the Bellavista area of Santiago and well within reach of the city’s world-class cuisine, fine museums, and flourishing arts scene.
HLS students at the University of Chile will have access to the support and resources of the Chilean office of Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS). The Center offers a range of support services to interested HLS students, including an orientation program offering both language training and an introduction to Chilean culture, politics, and history upon arrival. More information on the Center is available on its website.
HLS students enrolled in the program can choose from hundreds of courses at the University of Chile. The University allows HLS students to take regular law school courses, as well as graduate courses. The grade scale at the University of Chile runs from 0.0 to 7.0, with 4.0-4.9 signifying a Pass, 5.0-5.9 a Pass with Distinction, and 6.0-7.0 a Pass with High Distinction. Please see the online catalogue for a listing of courses, which includes the number of credits per course and how often each class meets.
Course loads will vary from student to student. HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see the HLS semester abroad webpage for more information about course requirements and how semester abroad credits are calculated.
Nearly all courses offered at the University of Chile are in Spanish. HLS students interested in spending a semester at the Law School are expected to have a level of Spanish fluency that will enable them to perform well in class and on exams. Prior to study abroad, HLS students may improve their language proficiency and receive credit for foreign language courses at Harvard College in accordance with the HLS cross registration policy. Students may also find it helpful to arrive in Chile early for language acclimation and/or to take an intensive language training course before law classes begin. Programs of this nature are offered through the DRCLAS, as mentioned above.
The academic year at the University of Chile is divided into two semesters. The first begins at the beginning of March and runs through mid-July. The second semester begins at the beginning of August and finishes in mid-December. The most recent available academic calendar is posted on the University of Chile’s website.
Students interested in the University of Chile exchange program should follow the semester abroad application process described on the HLS semester abroad webpage.
Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee will also be asked to complete the University of Chile application form.
The exchange agreement stipulates that the University of Chile reserve at least one spot for an HLS JD student each year. HLS may recommend more than one candidate but ultimately selection of the student will be made by the University of Chile.
To enhance the cultural and linguistic experience of study abroad, HLS students may choose to live with local families in Chile. The DRCLAS Regional Office works closely with a local housing coordinator to facilitate home-stay opportunities, but can also assist students in finding other housing options.
DRCLAS Student Coordinator Pilo Mella (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Santiago is also available to help facilitate contacts at the University of Chile and to help with housing and other matters.
I was certainly challenged by Mining and Telecom Law, both of which were highly substantive, code-based, and practice-oriented. The courses were taught by practicing lawyers, not career academics, which is true of most of the UCH faculty.
Sunjung Kim, J.D. '09
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