By Paul Moorman
I recently received a call from a student at my undergraduate alma mater asking for a donation. The student who called me was a pre-law history major who lived in the same dorm I had lived in and had received a scholarship to help pay for his tuition—so basically he was me 30 years ago (although I was a political science major, but let’s not quibble over details). While I was talking to him, all the great memories I have from my undergraduate years came flooding back. When it came time for him to make the “big ask,” I was ready to say no like I usually do, but then I thought about it some more and decided that this time I would say yes and donate some money for a scholarship fund. What ultimately helped me decide to make a donation was a realization that I had benefited from all those who had given generously to the school in the past. I was now in a position in my life to be able to step up and help “pay it forward” by showing the same generosity that was shown to me by donating to others.
So why am I telling you this story? I’ll get there, but first let me start by saying that I’m one of the current co-chairs of the FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Interest Group. I, along with my co-chair, Amelia Landenberger, have a lot planned this year. One of our most important goals is to update the Syllabi and Course Materials Database and I am taking the lead on this project. As the readers of this blog likely know, it’s an amazing source of useful information for anyone teaching foreign, comparative, and international legal research and I’m confident many of you have used and consulted it while planning their courses. The database only exists because your colleagues have generously donated their courseware to help you. As useful as the current database is, it hasn’t been updated for a few years and it is starting to get long in the tooth. Legal research has changed dramatically in the past few years and FCIL-related legal research is no exception. As the tools and methods we use change, the way we teach our research courses needs to adapt to those changes.
So now it’s time for me to make my “big ask.” Please consider this blog posting to be my first official request for you to donate your courseware to the Syllabi and Course Materials database. Unlike my alma mater, I’m not asking for money—instead I’m asking you to help by sharing your knowledge, expertise, experience, and hard work to help others who could benefit from it. If you have any FCIL-related courseware (you know who you are!), whether it be a syllabus, test, assignment, PowerPoint presentation, or even an entire module (really anything course related), now is the time to “pay it forward” and help your colleagues. If you’ve donated your courseware to the database in the past, please donate a more current version. If you’ve never donated before, now is time to review your files and see if there’s anything you have that others could benefit from. Your colleagues have helped you in the past, now it’s time to help your colleagues.
My plan for the next few months is reach out to those who have donated to the database, and also to those who teach FCIL-related legal research courses, and ask you to donate your courseware to the database. If you send the materials to me now by emailing it to me a firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ll save us both a lot of time and effort. Thank you in advance for your generosity. Your colleagues and I are grateful.