Gabriela Bertol, a native of Bento Gonçalves, and Maria Laura Grilli, a native of Lanciano, Italy, have much more in common that one can imagine. Despite the distance between the two countries, both students are going to finish their degrees and be awarded with two similar diplomas: a Law School degree from PUCRS and another from Università degli Studi di Parma (UNIPR). And the reason being is that they are in the Double Degree program between PUCRS’ Law School and the Italian university, which was officiated in 2016.
Under the program, PUCRS students will have the chance to work on their degree for one year at the Italian institution and vice-versa. At the end, they will be awarded with two diplomas, one from each institution. The idea is to advance the internationalization of teaching, which will ensure that students can have an international experience, expand their horizons and learn about Law from an international perspective.
For Elton Somensi de Oliveira, the project’s coordinator at PUCRS, the program is a great opportunity for the students’ careers. “Students will benefit greatly from going to Parma, and those who come to Porto Alegre will be of great benefit to our learning environment. Strategywise, it is innovative as it advances incoming and outgoing mobility and corroborates our international excellence”, says he.
Law School professor, Arthur Ferreira Neto, has been to Parma and, the way he sees it, the curricula needed to be standardized and courses had to be remodeled to enable credit transfer. “Over the years, we have tried implementing the progra m with several institutions from overseas. However, because the curricula are very different, things would not work”, says he.
In 2016, PUCRS was approached by the Italian institution to offer the program. Since then, the curricula of the programs – both PUCRS’ and UNIPR’s – have been remodeled and the courses are now equivalent.
In Ferreira Neto’s view, a double degree is a unique opportunity for students. “At the end of the undergraduate course of study, the diplomas will be valid in any European state. PUCRS students awarded with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law at Parma will have to pass the counterpart of the Bar Exam if they want to work as an attorney in Italy. However, this is much less bureaucratic than trying to validate a Brazilian diploma overseas, for instance”, adds he.
Universal legal thought
When it comes to the program being offered in two different contexts – Brazil and Italy –, Arthur Ferreira Neto claims that Law is increasingly globalized. “Now we know that we can’t think of Law strictly as an act or as something that is written in the Constitution”, says he. In his view, although the teaching of law as it is at the university is taking a different perspective, the reasoning, the content and the strategic thinking have a universal dimension.
Both the Brazilian and Italian students agree that the differences in Law Studies are not as striking as some people had thought. They see the foundations of the Italian law very similar to that of the Brazilian law. “What happens is that somethings will be different because the contexts in which they are applied are different. There are things that work in Italy and perhaps not in Brazil, and vice-versa”, adds Gabriela.
Living a different culture in a different country and using new study methods are important factors for both of them to recommend the experience. However, people must be alert: students who come to Parma are very likely to put on a few extra pounds (not only in their luggage). Food in that city of Italy is, in fact, heavenly.