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About Us


The Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law at Ohio Northern University is dedicated to three key objectives:

  1. Enhancing awareness, understanding and capacity to promote democratic governance and rule of law throughout the world.
  2. Fostering scholarship, dialogue and education in democratic governance and rule of law.
  3. Attracting, developing and deploying the resources and expertise at Ohio Northern University directly to rule of law promotion activities, by engaging students, faculty and alumni in real-world problem-solving and service.

Origin and History

The College of Law initiated an LL.M. degree program in Democratic Governance and Rule of Law in the fall of 2006 with a grant from the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State.  This program included a curriculum specifically designed for lawyers from transitional and post-conflict countries and a variety of experiential learning opportunities to introduce the students to the legal and governance institutions and practices of the United States. Since that time, the ONU program has graduated over 110 students from more than 33 countries. In 2011 the LL.M. program welcomed its first two Afghan women, and has since graduated 15 Afghan lawyers, including six women. 

In 2012 the university created the Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law (Center) to build upon the success and experience of the LL.M. program and its faculty to secure opportunities for promoting legal and governance reforms in transitional states beyond its LL.M. program. Currently, the Center is engaged in the Legal Education for Visiting Afghan Scholars (LEVAS) Program, in which the Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau has funded $3 million dollars to ONU for Afghan Lawyers pursuing their LL.M. Degree at the Ohio Northern University College of Law. For more information on this program, visit the LEVAS Program Section.

We see the new center as a natural outgrowth of the work we are already doing through our LLM program in educating the next generation of leaders in justice reform. Working with our graduates in their home countries to implement the lessons learned in our classes is an incredibly gratifying experience. – Howard Fenton, Director of the Center and Professor of Law