PUBLISHED:February 12, 2010

Two Duke Law students to participate in Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics

Feb. 12, 2010 — Though it’s a little early for spring fever, Allison Heaney and Nadia Prinz are already beginning to get excited about the upcoming summer ⎯ and for good reason. The two Duke Law students have been invited to participate in the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) program and will spend two weeks in late June traveling to New York, Berlin, Krakow, and Auschwitz with other law and medical school students from across the country.

“The point of the fellowship is not just to look back and ask what went wrong, but also to look forward to the future and ask what role lawyers and doctors should play,” Prinz says. “As lawyers, do we only owe our clients a certain responsibility, or do we owe society a certain responsibility because of our chosen profession?”

Both women say their respective academic backgrounds and family heritages compelled them to apply for the fellowship. Prinz, who majored in classics and German literature at Washington and Lee University, studied abroad in Germany during her undergraduate career and spent a year there on a Fulbright teaching grant after graduation. Her father is Austrian — Prinz was born in Luxembourg — and her mother is Jewish.

Heaney, who majored in psychology at Wesleyan University, says all of her history classes there were related to World War II or Nazi Germany. She notes that the interdisciplinary nature of the fellowship really appealed to her; as a dual-degree candidate pursuing a master’s degree in psychology in addition to her law degree, she believes she brings a unique perspective to the group.

Family heritage was also a factor in her decision to apply, Heaney says. Her great grandfather was drafted into the German army during World War II, and after being captured, spent the rest of the war in a French prisoner of war camp.

As both women look forward to what they describe as a “traveling academic conference,” they are hopeful that this experience will inform their future academic studies and careers.

Heaney says she has become increasingly interested in international law — specifically international criminal law — through her work as a research assistant to Professor Madeline Morris. “I’m beginning to see a lot of connections between how the world handled Nazi Germany and how we’re going to handle Al Qaeda now,” she says.

And Prinz, who wants to one day become a prosecutor, says she looks forward to the program’s discussions about professional ethics. “When you talk about legal ethics, prosecutors especially have a duty to be ethical,” she says. “They also have the freedom to use some discretion — what kind of charges will you pursue and what kind of deals will you make? There are a lot of opportunities to wrestle with ethical decisions as a prosecutor.”