Through the efforts of an intermediary – Monmouth attorney David Reid Clark – a series of lectures by Monmouth College faculty member Mike Connell was presented to students in Afghanistan last year.
Clark had approached Connell about traveling with him to Afghanistan in 2011 to speak about law and society to the same groups of students that Clark had met with a year earlier on his first trip to the country.
“They enjoy talking to us,” said Clark of the Afghans he encountered on both trips, which were arranged by a non-governmental organization. “They appreciate America’s contributions to their freedom.”
Connell was unable to accompany Clark, but he did record a series of lectures for the attorney to draw from, based on material he covers in some of his political economy and commerce classes, including a 300-level course, Legal Environment of Business.
“In that class, we talk about ‘big picture’ issues – the Constitution, the meaning of law,” said Connell. “We spend a week on the First Amendment alone.”
On Clark’s first visit to speak about American law, he spoke about what Connell called “technical” items, such as property and contract law. Clark’s topic on his second visit was broader, focusing on the history of law and how it serves as the foundation for American society.
“Professor Connell gave me a world-class outline that I could use to lay these things out to these people in a foreign land who don’t understand democracy,” said Clark, who spoke at three universities and two law schools in Afghanistan’s northern provinces. “His work was an invaluable help in my presentation to the people of this country who are trapped in a very tribal culture reminiscent of the 9th or 10th century.”
“He went to Afghanistan, gave the lectures while tailoring them for his audience, and they were a big hit,” said Connell, who was proud not only of the “town/gown” aspect of the story but also of the college’s role in “ helping to spread the concept of individual rights protected by a government based on the consent of the governed. I believe every person should live in a nation built on that foundation.”
“This was a tremendous experience for me,” concluded Clark. “The people I worked with in Afghanistan are hospitable, gracious, warm and friendly. I think it’s absolutely awesome that Monmouth College and Professor Connell were able to help with this project.”