Juris Scientiae Doctor – Doctor of the Science of Law
in Intercultural Human Rights
Goals and Objectives
The J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights aims at providing a premier opportunity for budding human rights scholars to make a lasting contribution to the dynamic and action-oriented field of human rights through researching, analyzing and offering solutions to pertinent cutting-edge issues both globally and domestically.
In particular, the J.S.D. program will be a powerful tool in meeting the diverse interests and career aims of the top quality students.
It will help students develop the ability to analyze critically the inferences that can be drawn from empirical and historical observations of societal developments that engage the operation of the international and regional justice systems.
It will promote and encourage the exchange of ideas and information regarding human rights between scholars all over the world.
It will promote the application of the highest quality research standards and the professional development of the international law of human rights. Students will be able to acquire expert knowledge of the foundations of the universality, interdependence, interrelation and deep empirical grounding of human rights, enabling them to fight effectively for a new society that is capable of giving centrality to the goal of ensuring respect for human dignity.
It will increase visibility and reaffirm the standing of the law school through its commitment to traditional, high academic standards and scholarship at the cutting edge.
It will contribute through the students’ work to the development and implementation of policies and procedures fostering social justice and the protection of human dignity.
It will facilitate and promote the world’s best practices in the quest for a world order of peace, justice and respect for human dignity by providing thorough publications vetted through ongoing peer review.
It will enrich overall knowledge and academic insight in the field of human rights.
1. The Innovative Component
As any thesis-based doctoral degree, the J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights is the capstone academic achievement indicating ultimate academic specialization and original contribution in the chosen field. Its emphasis is on the imparting, analysis, elaboration and dissemination of knowledge about human rights in the world social process, and the development of recommended solutions to societal problems through interdisciplinary, problem- and policy-oriented research. Intercultural dialogue facilitates this research; it is enhanced by the diversity conspicuous not only in the student body, but also the program faculty as established in the residential LL.M. IHR Program.
The J.S.D. program adds to the values of peace, justice and respect for human dignity promoted in the LL.M. IHR program through, inter alia, empowering its students to conduct in-depth analyses of patterns, models and methods of delivering services in the field of human rights, and increasing the pertinent knowledge by not only assessing policies that determine access of people to their rights, but also by shaping such policies, analyzing “rights,” and contributing to decisions that redress human beings’ grievances and make victims whole.
The J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights also provides a forum to encourage the exchange of information and developments in the theory and practice of human rights in different regions of our planet. There is a plethora of information, newly aggregated in the Internet, regarding various themes of the course components, focusing on successes and failures, weaknesses and strengths, large and small episodes, relating to human rights, involving important and less important national and international actors, major players as well as single individuals and their impact in the society at large. A concise, problem-oriented analytical framework allows for the organization of such wealth of data in pursuit of a solution to societal problems both locally and globally.
The J.S.D. degree in Intercultural Human Rights is conferred upon successful completion of a dissertation, the passing of the rigorosum, and proof of publication of the dissertation. All these elements, as well as the qualifying faculty, are detailed in the subsequent sections.
2. J.S.D. IHR Admission and Graduation Requirements
Students must have graduated with honors from St. Thomas University’s LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, i.e. with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.400. In extremely rare cases, outstanding scholars from other institutions who hold an LL.M. degree in the field may be admitted as well.
At least two terms of work must be spent in residence at the School. This requirement may be satisfied by residence as an LL.M. candidate. At least two additional years, not necessarily in residence, must be devoted to the preparation and revision of the dissertation.
Candidates for the J.S.D. program need to prove to the School of Law’s J.S.D. Admissions Committee that they are outstanding scholars at or near the top of their class who are capable of producing a publishable thesis that adds to the knowledge in the field, and who are capable of doing so within the time frame of the J.S.D. program.
Applicants for admission to the J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights need to submit the following documents:
(1) Completed J.S.D. Application Form
(2) LL.M. Transcript
(3) Writing Sample (e.g. LL.M. thesis, seminar paper)
(4) Description, on one (1) to five (5) pages, of the chosen topic, including an outline, an articulation of the topic’s novelty, and an initial bibliography, as well as a time frame for the stages and places of research as well as completion of the manuscript
(5) Letter of Acceptance of Candidate and Topic by Supervising Faculty Member
(6) Letter of Recommendation
(7) $100 Non-Refundable Application Fee
The Director of the Program reviews all the completed applications. An application is considered complete when the department of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights has received all of the items listed above.
The completed application package will be submitted for decision to a four-member J.S.D. Admissions Committee formed by the Directors of the Intercultural Human Rights and the International Taxation Programs, respectively, as well as two other members of the St. Thomas University School of Law faculty who hold a J.S.D., S.J.D., or Ph.D. degree or their foreign equivalent.
In case of non-St. Thomas applicants, before an application is submitted, the potential applicant in person or telephonically holds discussions with the Director of the Program to determine whether the program meets the applicant’s needs, whether the nature of the program’s academics and delivery fit the applicant’s profile, and whether the applicant’s academic background and experience fit the program’s requirements. The Director of the Program may direct the potential applicant to have discussions with a program faculty member, student, or alumni.
Applicants with strongest academic records, high scholarly aptitudes and abilities, and who are active participants in professional activities and/or service in the field of human rights are admitted to the Program.
Upon the decision of the Admissions Committee, an admission letter signed by the Director of the Program is mailed to the admitted students. Students who are not admitted to the program receive a letter denying their admission.
A student who has been advised of his/her admission receives a Registration Form. Information regarding requirements to establish and maintain J.S.D. student status, deadlines for registration, and deadlines for pertinent payments is also included in this communication.
A J.S.D. student is defined as one who is enrolled in a J.S.D. thesis course for a minimum of two (2) years, and a maximum of five (5) years. Failure to enroll in this continuing course at any time and in any semester before the completion of the program will be deemed a resignation from the J.S.D. program.
The J.S.D. thesis course is valued at nine (9) credits per semester (fall and spring only). This course is pass/fail. In order to receive a passing grade in this class, the thesis supervisor needs to submit a statement to the Registrar’s Office that the J.S.D. IHR student has made sufficient progress toward completion of his/her thesis.
c. Tuition and Fees
The application fee is $100. The program’s tuition has been fixed at $3,039 per semester and its fees at $250 per semester. Once their thesis is completed and submitted, students are charged a evaluation fee of $3,000 designed to cover the costs of the two opinions on the thesis as well as the rigorosum.
d. International Students
International students are defined as students in need of a student visa. They have to fulfill the same admissions criteria as U.S. students. In addition, they have to receive an I-20 document from the University Office of International Students and, in general, have to obtain proper student visa status prior to entering the country. They may work at the University for a time not exceeding 20 hours a week and are eligible to apply for optional practical training subsequent to completion of their studies. Students interested in this option are advised to apply for U.S. Government approval with the Director of the University’s Office of International Students.
e. Academic Evaluation
Towards completion of the requirements, the J.S.D. candidate has to submit a publishable manuscript of no less than 75,000 words on his or her chosen topic (the dissertation) to his or her supervisor.
The supervisor will submit a substantive report on the dissertation, including the determination of a grade from a slate ranging from summa cum laude (highest honors), to magna cum laude (high honors), to cum laude (honors), to rite (pass), and fail. A second opinion, including a grade from that slate, will then be provided by another qualified faculty as determined by the Director of the Intercultural Human Rights Program. The average of the two grades is carried over into the rigorosum. The rigorosum may break the tie if the average of the two grades for the dissertation lies between two grades, or it may raise or lower the grade by one grade if the two grades resulting from the dissertation review coincide.
In line with the J.D. program, grades can only be changed by the Dean or Associate Dean of the School of Law in case of arithmetical error by a faculty member, upon that faculty member’s request.
The J.S.D. candidate has to enroll in a J.S.D. thesis course for a minimum of two (2) years, and a maximum of five (5) years. Failure to enroll in this continuing course at any time and in any semester before the completion of the program as well as receipt of a failing grade in any semester due to lack of sufficient progress toward the completion of the thesis will be deemed a resignation from the J.S.D. program. Once such a resignation has occurred, the candidate may reapply for admission, which will be decided upon by the J.S.D. Admissions Committee with or without credit for previous semesters.
g. Graduation Requirements
Upon admission, the J.S.D. candidate has to enroll in a J.S.D. thesis course for a minimum of two (2) years, and a maximum of five (5) years. Towards completion of the requirements, the J.S.D. candidate has to submit a publishable manuscript of no less than 75,000 words on his or her chosen topic (the dissertation) to his or her supervisor.
The supervisor will submit a substantive report on the dissertation, including the determination of a grade from a slate ranging from summa cum laude (highest honors), to magna cum laude (high honors), to cum laude (honors), to rite (pass), and fail. A second opinion, including a grade, will then be provided by another qualified faculty as determined by the Director of the Intercultural Human Rights Program. The average of the two grades is carried over into the rigorosum.
The rigorosum is a one-hour defense of the thesis before a committee of three qualifying faculty. In this defense, not just issues pertaining to the topic of the dissertation, but all issues relating to the field of human rights law and policy constitute legitimate subject-matters of questioning. The rigorosum may break the tie if the average of the two grades for the dissertation lies between two grades, or it may raise or lower the grade by one grade if the two grades resulting from the dissertation review coincide.
Qualifying faculty includes, at its core, the instructional staff of the LL.M. program as well as other members of the School of Law faculty. The supervising professor, the second grader of the dissertation as well as the members of the rigorosum committee should hold the academic equivalent of a J.S.D., S.J.D., Dr. iur. or Ph.D.
The dissertation shall be published. The J.S.D. degree in Intercultural Human Rights is conferred upon completion of dissertation, rigorosum and proof of publication.
3. Teaching and Research Methodology
Every student admitted to the J.S.D. program will be supervised by a qualifying faculty member, who agrees, in advance, to this assignment. The supervising professor should hold the academic equivalent of a J.S.D., S.J.D., Dr. iur. or Ph.D. degree him- or herself. The supervising professors will be either the qualifying St. Thomas University School of Law professors or select faculty outside of St. Thomas University willing to serve, if appropriate, as supervisors/graders of J.S.D. theses in Intercultural Human Rights.
In-house professors will be available as supervisors as agreed upon with J.S.D. candidates. Outside professor-supervisors will come to Miami at least once a year, as they teach in the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, enabling students in Miami to get in touch with them at our place of instruction. As the usual time of completion of thesis is three years, the students would thus meet personally with their supervisor at least three times. Also, modern means of communication such as e-mail, Internet chat, fax, and telephone allow for constant and even instantaneous academic exchanges. The crowning task of the doctoral candidate will be the defense of his/her thesis against the challenges of a three-member faculty committee, including the supervisor, in a one-hour oral interchange, i.e. the rigorosum. The rigorosum may also test the candidate on his knowledge of the general field of human rights law and policy.
4. Administrative Oversight
In terms of University structure, the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights is a program of the School of Law and its faculty. The J.S.D. program is one component of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights.
The Director of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights oversees and implements the program, aided by the Executive Director. A full-time Administrative Assistant complements the administration.
As with the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, the J.S.D. program faculty is key to the success of the program. It has been carefully chosen for its unique combination of academic credentials and expertise with the practical experience in the field. Every student admitted to the J.S.D. program will be supervised by a qualifying faculty member, who has to agree, in advance, to this assignment. As far as qualifying faculty is concerned, the core of it is the faculty and guest lecturers of the LL.M. program. The supervising professor should hold the academic equivalent of a J.S.D. or Ph.D. degree him- or herself.
The law library with its extensive holdings in the fields of international law and human rights is available for use by the students. With regard to materials needed to be online for the benefit of graduate IHR students, St. Thomas University School of Law has made arrangements to provide access to the electronic databases that are normally used in its J.D. program.
Professor Dr. W. Michael Reisman, Myres S. McDougal Professor of Law at the Yale Law School, distinguished scholar of international law and jurisprudence, has published more than 20 books and more than 200 articles. He is one of the co-founders of the policy-oriented approach to law, which inspires this program. Professor Reisman has also served as President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He has given overall guidance and will provide continued support to the new J.S.D. program.
Key initial faculty and potential supervisors include:
Professor Dr. Eckart Klein of the University of Potsdam, Germany law faculty, is the leading German scholar in the field of human rights and an immediate past member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Professor Klein teaches the class on The Covenant of Civil and Political Rights: The Scope of the Rights and the Role of the Human Rights Committee.
Professor Dr. iur. Siegfried Wiessner is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights. He has published widely in the field of international law, constitutional law and jurisprudence; he lectured in the UN/UNITAR International Law Fellowship Programmes at The Hague and Tehran. With W. Michael Reisman, he has published the leading casebook on International Law in Contemporary Perspective (Foundation Press, 2004). He teaches Constitutional Law, International Law and Introduction to Human Rights Law.
Dr. Pierre-Michel Fontaine is a former Principal Officer in the Division of International Protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has recently served as the Chief of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Prior to his career in the United Nations system, Dr. Fontaine held academic appointments at various universities in the United States, including Harvard University and UCLA. Dr. Fontaine teaches the course on The Protection of Refugees.
Professor Dr. iur. Roza Pati is Professor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law and Executive Director of its LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights. She is Former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Member--Secretary of State for Youth and Women, in the government of Albania. She has written in the field of international law, international criminal law, human rights law and human trafficking law.
Dr. Toni Pfanner is the Chief Legal Advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross, a key actor in the implementation of international humanitarian law, and the Editor of the International Review of the Red Cross. He has, inter alia, taught courses in the UN/UNITAR International Law Fellowship Programme at The Hague. He teaches the course on Humanitarian Law.
Professor Dr. Kalliopi Koufa is a Professor of Law and the Director of Institute of International Public Law and International relations at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She also serves as a Member of the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Terrorism. She teaches the course on Human Rights and Terrorism.
Professor Dr. Herbert Petzold is a Professor of Law at the University of Saarbrücken, Germany and the former long-time Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights. He is well published in the field, and he teaches the course on The European System of Human Rights Protection.
Professor Dr. Domingo Acevedo has served as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (1993-1998), and still serves as a Special Consultant to the Commission. He has published widely in the field, and has taught at the American University Washington College of Law. Professor Acevedo has taught the class on The Inter-American System of Human Rights Protection.
Professor Dr. Adeno Addis is the W. Ray Forrester Professor of Public and Constitutional Law at Tulane Law School. He has widely published in the fields of international law and legal theory.
Professor Dr. John Makdisi is a Professor of Law and the former Dean of St. Thomas University, under whose direction the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights was established. He has written extensively on Islamic law and American property law. His book-length article on The Islamic Origins of the Common Law, 77 N . Car. L. Rev. 1635 (1999), offers a startling new theory for connections between Islam and the West. From 1981-1991, Professor Makdisi was a faculty member at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He served as dean of The University of Tulsa College of Law (1991-1994), Loyola University New Orleans School of Law (1996-1999), and St. Thomas University School of Law (1999-2003).
Professor Dr. Alfred Light is a Professor of Law at St. Thomas University. He has published numerous books and articles in the areas of federalism and intergovernmental relations, constitutional law, and environmental law. He is active in various bar associations and currently serves as the liaison of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources to its Standing Committee on Specialization. He teaches the class on Human Rights and Environment.
Professor Dr. Lenora Ledwon is a Professor of Law at St. Thomas University. She has published numerous articles and book chapters in the field of jurisprudence, law and literature, women’s rights, etc.
Professor Dr. Amy Ronner is Professor of Law at St. Thomas University. She teaches Property Law, Appellate Practice, Wills and Trusts, Criminal Procedure. She is the creator, and till 1999 also the Director of the St. Thomas University School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic. She is well-published in her field with several books and articles.