Unima legal clinicians in USA in pursuit for knowledge

University of Malawi

Legal Clinicians of the University of Malawi, from the School of Law, Economics and Government are in United States of America for a two-week academic exchange program.

The Students from Unima are beneficiaries of a Course in Environmental Justice, Human Rights and Public Health where students from both Universities are co-taught by University of Malawi and University of Maryland and the students work collaboratively on research projects focused on Malawi’s environmental challenges.

This comes as in November 2021 the of Malawi signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Maryland focusing on the activities of the two Universities’ Law Schools.

The MOU aimed at providing cooperation on academic activities of the two law schools so as to strengthen mutual understanding, foster friendly cooperation and to promote sustainable and productive academic collaboration and exchange between faculty, researchers, practitioners and students of both schools.

It is from this collaboration that apart from the co-taught course, the University of Maryland obtained funding for a bi-directional student/faculty exchange.

Speaking on the importance of the trip, leader of delegation Chikosa Banda, a senior lecturer at the University of Malawi stated that teaching by doing is the desire of the University of Malawi in pursuit of excellence.

“As a Law School, we take pride in competence based, experiential and comparative teaching and learning. This exchange program provides the students with the opportunity to learn by teaching others (USA staff and students) the challenges Malawi has on the environment and the possible solutions,” said Banda.

Peter Tsabola, a graduate of this course leading the students, expressed satisfaction on how the University of Malawi provides opportunities for practical learning.

“As students, we are excited that we will be able to present our research projects to an international audience and perhaps we will be able to get new energies and ideas to pour into our projects so as to benefit Malawi. Without doubt, just the opportunity to go to America is priceless,” said Tsabola.

In the other hand, Unima’s Legal Clinics’ Manager, Alexious Kamangila, who is part of Malawi’s delegation, was reflective on the impact of competency based teaching and learning.

“I recall it was around 2012/13 while in an Environmental Law lecture, Mr Banda challenged us on what we can do on the challenges faced by the environment in Malawi. It is at this time that we developed a concept note for what became the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic from which this Course emanates. I am, therefore thrilled to live the impact of learning by doing, now as a Lecturer,” explained Kamangila.

It is reported that between 5th and 15th May 2023, eight students from University of Maryland led by their Lectures Professor Peter Danchin and Professor William Piermattei were in Malawi to learn by experience.

During the Maryland visit, students and faculty from the two Universities visited a number of spots in Malawi with educative experiences thereby enriching their theoretical understanding of the challenges with a practical experience.

Through such, their classroom conversations were challenged, confirmed and at times re-oriented as they engaged with the practical realities and that is what is being pursued to be repeated, by the Malawian team.

Malawi’s team comprises of Chikosa Banda, Alexious Kamangila, Peter Tsabola, Ivy Nkhata, Teuka Tembo, Precious Chilundu, Mukeya Chirwa, Taona Banda, Nebert Chirwa, Faith Sumani, McDuff Shumba, Luntha Mbvundula, Archangel Chipala and Matthews Chawinga.