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New health-care reform law class a boon for students

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 16, 2010 7:30 AM

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The University of Iowa College of Law is moving in a bold, new direction with its new health-reform class this fall.

Not only is the class especially pertinent given the length and complexity of the new health-insurance regulatory and legal changes, but a platform of present-minded class sessions will engage and educate students on a whole new level. Other UI departments should look to this approach as a way to diversify curriculum, maintain relevance, and continue to attract students from around the country.

The 40-student class will offer an in-depth look at the 2,000-page document that President Obama recently signed into law and explore the different legal issues that have changed under the new legislation. While the course will lack the structure of a traditional textbook-centered class, it will feature health-care and law experts culled from the UI campus.

“This is probably the single most important piece of social legislation adopted since Medicare,” UI law Professor Sheldon Kurtz told The Daily Iowan. “Given our commitment to law, it was very worthy.”

That type of significance justifies the university’s commitment to offering a class specifically devoted to exploring the law’s provisions. The new class will even give students a leg up on some professionals already in the field. “Lawyers in the health-care field will spend years learning this law and advising clients about it,” Kurtz said.

Knowledge of the legislation will certainly prove valuable to students searching for jobs upon graduation, because they will bring a fresh perspective and academically taught understanding that students from other universities aren’t likely to posses. In addition, continued offerings that focus on current events such as health-care reform can give the UI an air of adaptability that many other universities will lack.

Many other departments, such as sociology, economics, and journalism, could offer similar classes, structured around a particular hot-button issue in their respective fields. Students would have the ability to apply their book knowledge to a real-world and current issue, while watching it unfold in real time. This sort of experience would help students think and act like the professionals they will soon become, rather than placing them strictly in an academic role.

While a class as specifically focused as The Innovation, Business, and Law Colloquium: Health Care Reform Act is fairly innovative, the concept of studying case-based scenarios has been used by many schools to offer world-class education in a multitude of different disciplines.

Harvard’s highly regarded M.B.A. program is one example of case-study curriculum. The school has relied heavily on examining current, real-world scenarios as its main method of education. And it has paid off. Harvard’s program is consistently ranked among the best in the world.

The UI law school has opened the door for many opportunities for students with a single new offering. We salute the college for its progressive outlook on education and prompt response to such a pressing change in its field of study. Hopefully, other areas will take note.


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