13 Aug 2014

A MILE Ahead for Fifteen Years

The first week of teaching on MILE 14

Faculty and staff at the World Trade Institute are preparing to welcome 30 students to the 15th year of the MILE programme. This year, there will be a stronger emphasis on the economics of trade, but law and global political economy will remain core elements of coursework.

The new and diverse cohort hails from 22 different countries with backgrounds in the areas of law, business, economics and international relations. 

In 15 years of existence, the MILE programme has become a leading course in the advanced study of law, economics and politics of international trade.  There are now more than 449 alumni working around the world in ministries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and law firms. 

The programme was established to fill the gap when it came to training students in the field of international trade.

“The WTI was founded in 1999 to address the challenges of globalisation in law.  These issues are not largely dealt with in law schools and business schools,” WTI Director of Studies Professor Thomas Cottier said.

After serving from 1986-1993 on the Swiss negotiating team of the Uruguay Round – the negotiations that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization – Professor Cottier returned to university work feeling there was a need for international trade specialists.

“Out of this came the idea to develop a master’s programme which would train the trainers from all over the world,” said Professor Cottier.

Pluridisciplinary approach

Since work in international trade requires not only specialisation but also an understanding of broad themes, MILE faculty have stressed from the beginning a pluri-disciplinary approach.  Although law is the focus, economics and global political economy are important components of the curriculum.  During three terms of study, students delve into almost every aspect of trade regulation, but the capstone thesis allows students to focus on a particular area of interest.

MILE alumnus Arpit Bhutani of the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards, said in a recent interview, “The interdisciplinary approach to the curriculum is the best part of the MILE programme.  Practitioners and lecturers from all over the world [fly] to Bern to teach us on a variety of topics, making the MILE quite unique in comparison to other master’s programmes.”

MILE modules such as Dispute Settlement at the World Trade Organization and the annual Moot Court exercise are enduring favourites that will allow the new cohort to experience challenging, real-life simulations.

Alumnus Assylzat Karabayeva said of the Moot Court, “I really enjoyed it.  As a group, we came together and supported each other.  We used everything we had learned throughout the year, and we had the opportunity to act like professionals.  It was not easy, but the quality of my team made it worthwhile.”

With only four weeks before the commencement of classes, MILE Programme Director Jin Glover is looking forward to the 15th intake and to welcoming “a diverse and promising group of students”.

by Amanda Dooley, MILE fellow