Undergraduate assignments good enough to publish

Author: Arts and Letters


Passionate opponents of grade inflation often sniff that an “A” should be given only to essays worthy of publication.

Even by that exacting standard, six undergraduate students enrolled in Professor Luc Reydams’ international law course at the University of Notre Dame deserve the coveted mark. Assigned to write reviews of recent books on international relations, all of them have had their work accepted by prestigious journals in the field.

While generous in praising his talented students, Reydams, an assistant professional specialist in the Department of Political Science and fellow in Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute, deserves no little credit as well.

“My experience is that the format of the assignment, a book review, is capable of bringing out the best in some students as it allows them to draw on other courses of their undergraduate education while working with a well delineated source,” he said.

Reydmans presented his students with seven recent books from which to choose, requiring them to write a critical review relating a particular work to other class readings, case studies, or even other undergraduate courses.

“I was struck by the quality of the completed assignments, and I contacted journals with a view to possible publication of the best reviews,” he said. “This semester I guided the students through the submission-revision-editing process. The final balance is extraordinary and speaks to the quality of our international relations program.”

Whatever grades the students may have received, their editorial achievements are remarkable:

A review written by junior Paul Mower, of Nicole Deller’s “Rule of Power or Rule of Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties” has been accepted by the Journal of Conflict and Security Law.

A review of “The International Criminal Court: A Global Civil Society Achievement” by Marlies Glasius, written by non-degree-seeking student Arnaud Druelle, has been accepted by Criminal Law Forum.

Reviews of “The Limits of International Law” by Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner, written by junior Catherine Kent and freshman Tim Tryniecki were accepted by the Journal of International Law and International Relations and the International Community Law Review, respectively.

A review written by senior Caitlin May, of “Disarming Iraq,” by Hans Blix, was accepted by the Journal of Conflict and Security Law.

A review written by senior Will McAuliffe, of Jeremy Rabkin’s “The Case for Sovereignty: Why the World Should Welcome American Independence” was accepted by the International Organizations Law Review.

Reydams earned degrees in law and in political and administrative sciences from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Universit Catholique de Louvain. He practiced law in Brussels, Belgium, before coming to Notre Dame to earn two law degrees through the University’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. His book “Universal Jurisdiction: International and Municipal Legal Perspectives” was published in 2003 by Oxford University Press.

Contact: Luc Reydams at 574-631 6954 or reydams.1@nd.edu

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at newsinfo.nd.edu on May 15, 2007.