Comparative Law in a Global Perspective


Comparative Law in a Global Perspective

Facultad de Derecho
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The course approaches comparative law and legal studies from a genuine global perspective.

It provides students with an overview of the most important legal traditions of the world, questioning state-centered paradigms and investigating current legal transformations.

The first part of the course focuses on the meaning of comparative law and introduces fundamental concepts, such as those of legal traditions, legal transplants and legal pluralism, considering legal globalization as one of the most important developments for contemporary legal studies.

The second part deals with the core of the Western legal traditions analyzing the Common law & Civil law archetypical divide. It also analyses mixed legal systems, their distinctive traits and growing importance for comparative legal studies. The meaning of democracy and human rights as Western or

universal values is investigated as well in this part of the course, through concrete case studies and via class debates.

The third cycle broadens the curse’s comparative spectrum, approaching some of the most important non-Western/non-European legal traditions (Sub-Saharan, East-Asian, Hindu, Talmudic, Islamic and Latin American), while investigating possible reconciliations of legal diversity on a global


The course will provide students with the opportunities to:

  • Better appreciate how cultural, social and historical factors dialogue and interrelate with the development of legal structures, doctrines, and substantive rules;
  • Approach the study of some of the major legal traditions of the world and their present relevance and vitality;
  • Acquire tools for understanding the impact of globalization on legal and political structures and the limits of State-centered legal paradigms;
  • Appreciate culturally pluralist perspectives on law, while acquiring a comparative legal method and a global understanding of the contemporary legal transformations;
  • Enhance argumentative and legal analysis skills via class discussion and exchange.

Regular students at the University (students who are studying for an undergraduate or graduate degree) will not be able to register through the Educación Continua for this course. In case of registration, the Management will proceed with its return.


The course will be conducted in a seminar format, having students taking part of the responsibility for leading the common discussion. Prior to each lecture, students are requested to read the materials identified at the beginning of the course and available on-line (or via Dropbox). During lectures, students are expected to comment on the texts that they were requested to read, encouraging critical thinking, active participation and thought-provoking exchanges in class.

Class Participation (20%)

Class participation is a really meaningful part of the final grade. Students are expected to be familiar with the readings and be prepared for each class.

In the second week (Session V) the class will be divided in groups and each student will be requested to argue in favor OR against the thesis of the universality of democracy/human right…but regardless to her/his personal opinion about it J The idea is to engage in a meaningful class debate on one of the core topics of the course, while learning to the appreciate the reasons of “the others”.

Discussion Paper (plus/minus)

Each student will choose one of the topics listed in the syllabus among the “Assignments” (second week). S/he will prepare a short discussion paper (MAX 750 words) focusing on a concrete and recent (2020-2024) case-study able to illustrate the assigned topic and the dynamic interaction between legal traditions and contemporary legal developments/transformations. The goal will be to demonstrate how “alive” legal traditions still are (eg. Contemporary legal reforms/important judgments/constitutional amendments etc.).

The discussion paper will be uploaded on the common folder 24h before the course and then briefly presented and analyzed in class (5-10 min) with the aim of triggering the common discussion.

Comparative Legal Research and Group Presentation (80%)

The final comparative legal research will focus on “Latin America’s current challenges”. The class will be divided in groups. Each group will work on a common research project, which will be presented as a formal lecture in class (two last sessions), in a peer-to-peer exchange exercise.

Each student will then write her/his own contribution to the group assignment (max 1500 words, excluded footnotes and bibliography). Creativity and critical analysis are really important for writing a good essay. Students should be able to clearly structure their reasoning, correctively cite sources and materials, and be able to bring good arguments to support their ideas.


Part I

The Meaning of Comparative Law in the Contemporary Legal “Brave New World”

Session I

  • What Comparative Law Is and Is Not
  • Comparative Law and Legal Pluralism

Session II

  • Comparative Law and Legal Globalization

II Part

Western Legal Traditions

Session III

  • The Civil Law Tradition
  • The Common Law Tradition and Mixed Jurisdiction

Session IV

  • Human Rights: Western or Universal legal values?
  • Human Rights: Western or Universal legal values? The case of sexual mutilations

Session V

  • Democracy: Western or Universal legal value?
  • CLASS DEBATE: Universality YES or NOT? (50/50)

Part III

Comparative Law Across Legal Traditions

Session VI

  • The Chthonic and African (Sub-Saharan) Legal Traditions

Session VII

  • The East Asian Legal Tradition
  • The Hindu Legal Tradition

Session VIII

  • The Islamic Legal Tradition
  • The Talmudic Legal Tradition

Sessions IX - X

  • Class Presentations


Valentina Volpe

Valentina Volpe (Italy) is an associate professor of public international law and the co-director of the LL.M in Human Rights, Security, and Development at the Law School of Lille Catholic University (France). She is also a senior research affiliate and a former senior research fellow (post-doc) at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (MPIL) in Heidelberg (Germany) and an adjunct professor at Sciences Po in Paris, Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome and Los Andes University in Bogota'. Valentina has studied law in Italy, France, and the US. She is a former visiting researcher at Yale Law School and holds a Ph.D. summa cum laude in Law and Legal Theory from the Italian Institute of Human Sciences (SUM) of Naples (currently the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa).


Eventualmente la Universidad puede verse obligada, por causas de fuerza mayor a cambiar sus profesores o cancelar el programa. En este caso el participante podrá optar por la devolución de su dinero o reinvertirlo en otro curso de Educación Continua que se ofrezca en ese momento, asumiendo la diferencia si la hubiere.

La apertura y desarrollo del programa estará sujeto al número de inscritos. El Departamento/Facultad (Unidad académica que ofrece el curso) de la Universidad de los Andes se reserva el derecho de admisión dependiendo del perfil académico de los aspirantes.