The COVID-19 assistance project: An innovative, interdisciplinary experiential subject benefitting students and the community
Kate Fischer Doherty – Melbourne Law School
Associate Professor Jonathan Liberman – Melbourne Law School/ Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
The Melbourne Law School Clinics program coordinates a diverse range of clinical legal education subjects available to later year students in the Juris Doctor. This presentation details the COVID-19 Assistance Project (‘the Clinic’), developed in rapid time in April 2020 as a wholly online, interdisciplinary, project-based clinic, for semester 2 2020. Students worked in small groups on a project proposed by a public-interest organisation, supervised by the subject coordinators and with guidance of an ‘academic mentor’. Students ‘met’ regularly with their partner organisation and mentor and at the end of semester formally presented their completed projects. The project work was complemented by teaching and real-time collaborative analysis of the legal aspects of COVID-19.
The Clinic was largely conducted during the extended lockdown in Melbourne in 2020. For many students - isolated from peers and sometimes family, as well as from the University - the small group, intensive contact model of the Clinic, as well as the sense of contributing to the pandemic response effort played an important role in their engagement and overall wellbeing in a challenging period.
The COVID-19 Assistance Project offers a useful and flexible model for engaged and interdisciplinary experiential learning adaptable to multiple future contexts.
This Zoom presentation was part of the Melbourne CSHE Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 held on Wednesday 2 June 2021.