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Published: June 08, 2023

Travel Course to the Netherlands Explores Criminal Justice System

16 UT students got to see firsthand how the criminal justice system in the Netherlands differs from that of the United States.

Travel Course to the Netherlands Explores Criminal Justice SystemStudents talked about how the trip to the Netherlands gave them perspective on their desired careers. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Branch

The students took part in an 11-day trip abroad to The Hague and Amsterdam as part of a travel course called Comparative Criminal Justice System—Human Rights and Victimology, taught by Kathryn Branch, the assistant dean of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education.

Foundational knowledge about the criminal justice system in the Netherlands was set during a seven-week spring course, Branch said. Students had lectures, readings, presentations and papers. 

“I loved the idea of studying abroad but did not want to be abroad for as long as a semester,” said Samantha Baena-Roth ’23, a criminal justice major. “So this was the perfect opportunity to study abroad for a shorter period of time while receiving class credit.”

On the trip, students got a tour of The Hague Humanity Hub, where they listened to presentations by representatives from non-government organizations that focus on human rights and crimes against humanity, Branch said. 

In downtime, the students explored Amsterdam by foot, bus and canal.

Baena-Roth said some highlights were visiting the International Criminal Court and seeing the gallery and how differently the court operates compared with courts in the United States, as well as seeing what actions the court takes in order to protect witnesses and victims.

Another highlight for her was hearing from the founder of the nonprofit organization “Not For Sale,” which offers classes such as cooking to former prostitutes to help the women gain the skills to work in a different industry.

Maria Chornopysky, who graduated in May, said it had been a dream of hers to go abroad. However, when the pandemic hit, that dream was put on pause. She decided to jump at the opportunity with the travel course.

“I think this course helped me find myself career-wise because even though I was about to graduate, I still wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to pursue, and being abroad and getting to make new connections really opened my eyes to what I could actually do to impact the world,” Chornopysky said.

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