lettering unizeit

Almost like in a crime thriller

When Inspector Bodo Rowski investigates, no case remains unsolved. But what happens afterwards? Law students in Kiel will soon be able to address this question themselves, just like in a real crime thriller.

Dusk over a city
© pur.pur

Law is often described as a dry and boring subject. But Professor Janique Brüning does not like to subscribe to this judgement at all. And according to her interpretation, even if such an impression should arise, it is usually based on mitigating circumstances. Which in Brüning's words means: "Many students have a rather passive way of learning. They learn laws and solutions by heart, but then they find it hard in certain circumstances to actually apply this knowledge in written examinations that require a solution to a case."

The university lecturer wants to counteract this by packing legal facts into "Baltic Crime Stories" and, by doing so, attempt to make use of the great popularity of series among students. Each of the episodes, which are currently being developed, deals with a specific criminal case and is self-contained. The protagonists, however, appear time and again and shape the stories with their particular personality traits.

For example, there is the cool but usually cash-strapped surfer type Jesse Weiß, who first fills up his petrol tank without paying, then feeds a washer into a parking meter and is promptly caught by police officer Bodo Rowski. At the end of this little story, the students are able to get a sense of which of the young man's acts are considered deception under the criminal code.

Meanwhile, his mother Friederike Amalie Albrecht is, as professor of marine biology, an expert in her field and recognised in academic spheres, but is not free of faults either. She is not very accurate with her accounts for third-party funds and, in this way, gives the students a legal puzzle to solve.

"The stories are designed to engage students, but they must not be overloaded either," explained Janique Brüning, who set out on this course back in 2017 with her project "Der digitale Fall" (the digital case) (unizeit edition 93). The feature filled with people and stories was missing back then, though. It was mainly about helping students solve a legal problem using targeted questions and suggestions.

Now the professor is busy topping it all off by putting together cases with identifiable characters. This will carry on for nearly a whole year, as her idea is once again being sponsored by the PerLe funding for innovative teaching (PerLe: project for successful teaching and learning) and is in no way a one woman mission. Marie Hädrich, member of the department, is often responsible for the texts and embellishing the facts, for example, because she is very quick with a pen. The stories and characters arose during a major brainstorming session involving the whole team.

But at the end of all the fun and games, this is about creating a "really well prepared solution" for criminal law cases, stressed Janique Brüning. She regards her "Baltic Crime Stories", which could be available online and accessible to everyone via the Internet towards the end of the year, as simply a tool for practising the application of law. If it is a bit of fun at the same time, that is, of course, all the better for the innovative university lecturer.

Digital assisted learning in the subject of law is, however, despite everything, not the be all and end all, clarified Janique Brüning: "Ultimately, the written examination is still done using pen on paper." 

Author: Martin Geist