Bahir Dar University School of Law launches PhD program, establishes global partnership

Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, May 2018: Bahir Dar University School of Law has launched a PhD program in Law making it the second law school to offer such a program after Addis Ababa University College of Law and Governance Studies.
“The launch of a new PhD program in Law constitutes an important milestone for legal education in the country and the Law School,” said Alebachew Berhanu, Dean of BDU Law School.  
The program was developed with a view to enhancing capacity in legal education and scholarship as well as mitigating the phenomenon of brain drain at both institutional and national levels by offering an alternative to tertiary degree level education abroad.
Dean Alebachew noted that the start of the new PhD program was made possible in part through partnership arrangements with Academics Without Borders, Ghent University School of Law and the School of Law of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
The program is open only to applicants with appropriate academic credentials and a demonstrable commitment or plan to join an academic or professional career requiring high-level legal scholarship. While the intake for the inaugural year has been limited to internal academic staff to ensure the program’s sustainability, the Law School plans to open the program to external applicants in the coming years.
Dr. Dadimos Haile, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the PhD program said, “The program’s design takes into account the Law School’s limited internal capacity, which is partly linked to the challenges generally faced by law schools in Ethiopia when it comes to attracting and retaining educators with advanced qualifications.” This led to the adoption of a strategy that would enable the School to build on existing and new collaborative arrangements internationally and within in Ethiopia.  
The strategy has already yielded results as the program currently benefits from the participation of visiting professors from institutions in Europe, Canada and the USA, as well as from Addis Ababa University, to deliver courses and act as dissertation supervisors.  
Accordingly, the Law School recently hosted two volunteers through a partnership scheme developed with Academics without Borders. The distinguished visiting academics from Canada were invited to assist with developing the program course components.
Professor Andrew Botterell of Western University, Canada, offered the Advanced Jurisprudence course in an intensive format. Asked about the program and his stay, Professor Botterell noted that he was very impressed with the enthusiasm and preparation displayed by the PhD students. As he said, “I learned a great deal from both students and colleagues at BDU about the history of Ethiopian law, as well as about the contemporary Ethiopian constitutional legal order. It was a wonderful experience both personally and professionally and I look forward to returning again soon.”
Professor Michelle McGinn of Brock University, Canada, taught Advanced Research Methods and co-taught a postgraduate seminar in advanced English, conference presentation and publishing.
“The Law School is honored to partner with and grateful to AWB, whose impressive network across Canadian higher education institutions and financial support made it possible for Professors McGinn and Botterell to join us and contribute to our PhD program,” said Dean Alebachew. He also expressed his gratitude to Professors McGinn and Botterell for their volunteerism, engagement and friendship as well as their invaluable contribution to the PhD program.
The sentiment was echoed by Dr. Dadimos, who added that “students and staff have significantly benefited from Andrew and Michelle’s contributions and thoroughly enjoyed their presence.” He hoped that this would be the first of many such visits for them and would lead to broader collaboration with their respective institutions. He also expressed appreciation for the dedication and efficiency of AWB’s staff and management and emphasized that AWB’s continued support, particularly during the formative phase, is vital as it would enable the program to contribute to institutional capacity building and become self sustaining in few years.
AWB Executive Director Greg Moran said, “AWB is encouraged by the partnership we are building with Bahir Dar School of Law. The contributions of both Andrew and Michelle have been well received by their colleagues in Ethiopia and we look forward to continuing to support the School and faculty as they build and expand their program.”
Academics Without Borders/Universitaires sans frontières (AWB) is a Canadian bilingual NGO based in Montreal. Its mission is to help developing countries improve their universities so that they can train their own experts and conduct research to assist in their countries’ development. AWB’s projects are involved in the full range of university activities from expanding and improving existing institutions and programs to helping create new ones.
AWB fulfills its mission by sending volunteers on projects that originate in and are owned by developing world institutions. AWB volunteers are reimbursed for their expenses but are not paid a salary.
Bahir Dar School of Law is looking forward to welcome visiting professors Diederik Bruloot (Ghent Law School) and Lutz Oette (SOAS Law School) who will be teaching specialized law courses to doctoral students in May 2018.