February 22, 2021

“Doing it Differently” - A Virtual Art Walk for International Studies

By Dr. Lisa Samuel, Academic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor, DAUS

To conclude Dr. Lisa Samuel’s International Law course last fall semester, students participated in a Virtual Art Walk, where each student created a visual representation related to the course’s themes. 

“So for one of our assignments, we’re going to do something that’s a little different”. This is how I introduced students to the idea of doing a somewhat unusual class project in the Fall 2020 semester, in the times of COVID-19.

By doing it differently[1], I meant that we were going to step outside of the box of the usual array of assignments. For one assignment, we would create a class virtual art gallery that brought to life an aspect of the intertwining of international law and COVID-19.

Students received the following guidance for this project: The visual representation will be based on an aspect of the intertwining of international law and COVID-19 of your choice drawn from our class readings. Accompanying it will be a short write-up explaining the core point of your visual presentation.  This visual representation may be done in the style of a short video, or it may be a photo of a scene, a place, of people, of an installation of photos, wood, copper, textiles, print, or other types of mediums (pastels, charcoal, paints, sculptures – use your imagination). On the day of the Virtual Art Walk, you must be prepared to briefly explain how it is that your visual representation relates to the themes that have arisen in our class and in our readings and discussions.  

International law not only exists, but also penetrates much more deeply and broadly into everyday life than the people it affects may generally appreciate. The structure of the international legal order is also fundamentally different from that of national legal systems.  International law has no legislature and no executive branch. International law has a judiciary, but one without comprehensive, automatic jurisdiction.

So in my International Law class, given how different this branch of law is, my focus is on creating experiences where students come to see it as part of their everyday life.

It’s also been challenging to wrap our heads around living in the times of COVID-19. It has become a very real part of our lived experience.

Taking these two challenges together, I thought that if we had an opportunity to express our thoughts and ideas about the relationships between  international law and COVID-19 in a different way, it would encourage all of us to seek and generate our own meanings, while promoting critical thinking, self-reflectivity, and collective and cooperative learning.

Welcome to our Virtual Art Walk!






[1] Inspired by Smith, Heather A., Caldwell, C., Carson, H. M., Gribling, C., Milinazzo, K., Therrien, E.-A., & Warner, L.  (2012). Doing it differently: Collective impressions of the creation of an “rt gallery”, International Studies Perspectives, 13(3), 307-320. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1528-3585.2012.00492.x


Dr. Lisa Samuel is Academic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies. She teaches courses in International Law, International Relations, and International Political Economy.

Related Articles