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Minnesota and Uppsala Celebrate 25-Year Partnership

JUNE 17, 2008—Since 1983, the law schools of the University of Minnesota and Uppsala University in Sweden have exchanged faculty and students. The program gives Minnesotans an opportunity to study international, comparative, and European community law and to meet law students and faculty from all over Europe.

In May, Uppsala University organized a 25th anniversary celebration of the exchange program to coincide with its Alumni Day. Co-Dean Fred L. Morrison, Dean Emeritus Robert Stein, Professor Claire A. Hill, Director of International and Graduate Programs Muria J. Kruger (class of 2001), and 1992 student exchange program participant John Hasselberg (class of 1985) traveled to Sweden for the event. The Law School's Professor of Legal Research Instruction Suzanne Thorpe, also a former student in the Uppsala exchange, was teaching in Uppsala for the spring semester and rounded out the Minnesota delegation.

The academic portion of the four-day festivities featured panel discussions on several issues, including the differences between U.S. and European legal systems regarding corporate structures and facilitation of business, the responsibility of the media in legal situations, and the changing role of lawyers as globalization increases. Uppsala faculty and alumni represented the European community, and Professors Morrison, Klein, and Hill provided the U.S. point of view.

The event wasn't all scholarly. According to Kruger, the Swedish hosts really know how to throw a banquet. "I have never had so much fun on a work experience," she said. "Everyone in Uppsala was so very friendly. Conversation was easy, fun, and enjoyable."

Minnesotans were welcomed at two traditional evening banquets, one hosted by Uppsala law school's Alumni Foundation and one by the Faculty of Law. In addition to food, drink, and singing, an important element of such three- to four-hour events is the offering of toasts, Kruger explained. "Toasting in Sweden is quite formal, and there are many rules about how to raise your glass and toast to your surrounding neighbors at the table. Toasts are longer than we are accustomed to and are written in advance of the evening." Between toasts, everyone joined in singing traditional Swedish songs, with gusto, Kruger said.

In addition, Minnesota visitors were given a special tour of the University library and unique collections that are not on display, and Anders Bjork, the Governor of Uppsala, hosted a visit at the Uppsala Castle. Professor Anders Agell, Dean of Uppsala's Faculty of Law when the exchange program began, now a professor emeritus, and a long-time friend of Professor Stein, invited the Minnesota group to his home for dinner.

"The people on both ends of the exchange really enjoy one another and have developed deep relationships over the years," Kruger said, which explains why the exchange program has thrived for 25 years. "I was honored to be even a small part of this very successful exchange, and I look forward to keeping it successful for many years to come."

On September 26 and 27, the University of Minnesota Law School is presenting a symposium to commemorate the exchange program's anniversary. Faculty from Uppsala and from the Law School (Professors Brian Bix, Fred Morrison, Jean Sanderson, Oren Gross, and Brad Karkkainen) will discuss five topics of U.S. and Swedish/European comparative interest. Planned evening events are a reception on September 26 and a dinner on September 27. The symposium will be presented again at Uppsala on October 24 and 25.

Contact Muria Kruger at (612) 624-9968 or krug0047@umn.edu for more information.

 

Prof. Suzanne Thorpe and Chair of the Alumni Foundation of Uppsala University Faculty of Law Rolf Johannssen
Prof. Suzanne Thorpe and Chair of the Alumni Foundation of Uppsala University Faculty of Law Rolf Johannssen between toasts and songs at a traditional Swedish banquet.

Faculty of Law building at the University of Uppsala
Faculty of Law building at the University of Uppsala, Scandinavia's oldest university.