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Fulbright Spotlight: Professor addresses murky waters of maritime law in landlocked classrooms

Dec 13, 2023

This piece is a part of IU Global’s Fulbright U.S. Scholar series, profiling the faculty and researchers who make IU a top producer of Fulbright awardees.

David Bosco, executive associate dean of Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, was a natural fit for a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award. The question was simply which aspect of his discipline he would pursue.

As a lawyer specializing in international law with a recent focus on the intricacies of maritime law, Bosco brought his expertise to the waters of Spain as a part of his Fulbright experience.

Dave Bosco in Spain David Bosco, an expert in international law with a recent focus on the intricacies of maritime law, brought his expertise to the waters of Spain as a part of his Fulbright experience. Photo courtesy of David Bosco

Bosco’s project ventured into the complex world of the Strait of Gibraltar, a geopolitically charged waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. This strategic passage, situated at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, not only serves as the gateway to the Mediterranean but also stands at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, making it a focal point for global maritime trade, naval activities and shipping.

It’s bordered by Spain and Morocco, with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar nearby, setting the stage for international tensions and legal conflicts. Bosco’s research delved into the “Law of the Sea,” the United Nations agreement that governs territorial waters, fishing rights, environmental concerns and navigation rights. The legal and geopolitical landscape of the Strait has triggered conflicting claims and disputes among several nations, all deeply invested in the region’s economic interests, territorial sovereignty and security.

Bosco’s comprehensive investigation encompassed various aspects of the Strait of Gibraltar, including multilateral maritime cooperation, counter-piracy efforts and general maritime security. Through interviews at military and naval bases, his goal was to shed light on the multifaceted challenges and dynamics of the region. His insights have already resulted in an article on European naval power, providing a professional and academic perspective on the complexities of maritime issues in the Strait.

Bosco said the sensitivity of the Gibraltar issue added layers of complexity to his research, making open dialogue a formidable task.

“While I’m comfortable with Spanish, the nuances in legal and diplomatic discussions can be intricate,” he said. “It takes skill and patience to navigate these conversations effectively, especially in a context as politically charged as the Strait of Gibraltar.”

Bosco’s journey wasn’t a solitary one. He had strong affiliations with a specific university and professor in Spain, which expanded his research network and offered valuable insights into the local context. Plus, his family tagged along.

“Having my family with me was a huge support,” Bosco said. “Watching my three kids thrive in a new Spanish-speaking school was a special part of our Fulbright adventure. I’m really proud of how they adapted and the progress we made together abroad.”

Bosco’s Fulbright project found its roots in the versatile approach of the Hamilton Lugar School’s Department of International Studies, an academic setting that empowered him to adopt a well-rounded perspective for his research.

“Working with experts from a range of disciplines allowed me to explore ocean issues from different viewpoints,” he said. “It’s the interdisciplinary collaboration that adds depth to our comprehension of global challenges.”

The Fulbright experience has left a lasting impact on Bosco’s teaching, equipping him with a deeper, more personalized context for his courses. His ability to share practical insights, cultural nuances and firsthand experiences from his Fulbright offers students a personal and enriching aspect to their academic journey and equips them to navigate the murky waters of maritime law.

“The firsthand experiences and insights gained from my Fulbright project offer a more informed perspective for my courses,” he said. “It’s not just about relaying information; it’s about providing students with a dynamic and evolving understanding of international studies, grounded in real-world examples and current global issues.”


IU Global

Lexi Baker

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