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Prof. Francis Snyder Delivers Speech as Faculty Representative of PKU Shenzhen

On Thursday, August 28, 2014, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School held its 2014 Opening Ceremony in the University Town Stadium. As the faculty representative, STL Professor Francis Snyder delivered a speech about the importance of a “Research Project for Life” that exemplifies a combination of healthy living, education, and life-long passion.

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THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 2014, 9:00 AM


Speech on Behalf of the Faculty by

Professor Francis SNYDER

C.V. Starr Professor of Law and EU Jean Monnet Chair ad personam

Co-Director of the Center for Research on Transnational Law

Peking University School of Transnational Law


Welcome. Thank you for the honour of speaking to you today. It is a privilege and a pleasure to represent the faculty of Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School at the 2014 Opening Ceremony. Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School is well-known throughout the world. We are very excited to participate in its development, to cooperate in increasing its international profile, and to contribute to the advanced education of our outstanding students, who are destined to be among the leaders in their chosen careers in the future. We also have the great opportunity and the good fortune of being able to contribute to the development, growth and internationalisation of Shenzhen, one of the most dynamic, most innovative and most beautiful cities in China and in the world. On behalf of our faculty, welcome to our Opening Ceremony.

Now, I would like to address my remarks mainly to our new and continuing students.


Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have always been a very active researcher. Please join me today in a simple exercise. Let us imagine that we all are involved in a cooperative research project. Let us give our joint project a working title. Let us call it ‘A Research Project for Life’

In carrying out research, we need to formulate a research question. This research question will tell us what the research is about. It will help us to develop hypotheses, it will identify what information is relevant, and it will enable us to know whether and when we have achieved our objectives. Our research question today should be relevant to all of us, regardless of our different responsibilities, interests or future plans. Let me propose a research question to guide us all in our continuing cooperation. The question is: What can we each contribute to our cooperative project called ‘A Research Project for Life’?

Today, briefly, I would like to give you my personal answer. My personal answer consists of three parts. First, good health is the foundation. Second, education is the best gift. Third, passion is for life.


First, good health is the foundation. Good health is the greatest privilege a human being can imagine. In thinking about good health, we can identify two elements. The first element is diet. The second element is exercise.

By ‘diet’ I mean simply ‘what we eat’. I do not mean any particular prescription about how to lose weight or how to produce a physically beautiful person. Instead, as many people say, ‘we are what we eat’. We do not have to be specialists in food safety law and policy to know instinctively that this is true. If we do not realise the truth of this saying already, we will learn it as we grow older. Paying attention to what we eat will pay dividends throughout our life. This is not limited to each of us as an individual, however. All of us are well-educated citizens. As a result, we have a clear responsibility to think about and to promote the production and distribution of healthy food.

About exercise, let me give you a personal example. I started playing sports as a small child. I have never stopped. Of course, the sports themselves have changed along the way: from running to jogging to walking; from underwater racing to lifeguard training to gentle swimming; and from squash to tennis to imagining my grandchild as the next Roger Federer or Li Na!  The important point is exercise, not the specific sport itself, for three reasons. First, exercise is the best recipe we human beings have for being able to enjoy a long life. Second, sport is an ideal vehicle for personal physical and intellectual development. Third, through sports we can make friends, develop ways of cooperating with other people, and learn to work together. Together with diet, exercise is the basis of good health as a foundation for life.


Second, education is the best gift for a lifetime. This is why we are all here.

Focus initially on the word ‘education’. By this, I mean that our education provides the best foundation for a lifetime of personal development, of exploration of our rapidly changing world, and of lifelong learning. Last spring I went back to a class reunion at my undergraduate alma mater, Yale University. It was a moving experience to renew friendships with classmates whom I had not seen for many years. The marvellous opportunity of studying at Yale shaped our lives. We all had been inspired by our outstanding education. Of course, education is not limited to any particular institution of higher education. For us all here now, today is a special day. Whether you are in your first year here or are a continuing student, today is a new point of departure. It will underlie, contribute to and shape what you do in the future.

Focus next on the word ‘gift’. To say that ‘education is the best gift for a lifetime’ does not mean that education is something which we receive without cost and which we receive passively. A good education is often not free from the financial point of view. In addition, if we want a good education, we must invest in ourselves by investing ourselves. We must be active participants.

Focus finally on the word ‘lifetime’. A good education does not end when we walk out the door of our School, with our diploma in hand. Our time here is part of a process of lifelong learning, in which I believe and in which we all are engaged.


Third, passion is for life. I mean this in two related senses. Passion creates, sustains and enhances life. Moreover, passion should be lifelong.

Passion comes in many forms. We have passion for those people close to us and whom we love, whether partners, family, friends and other loved ones. We have passion for fellow students and for teachers. We have passion for institutions, such as Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School. We have passion for hometowns, for cities, and for countries. Passion is an essential part of a fruitful life. We are here to develop our passion for learning and for life.

Let me again give you a personal example. All my life, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a passion for learning. When I was much younger, I tried to describe this passion to myself. I imagined it in the form of a picture. In the picture, there seemed to be too many ideas trying to come out of my forehead. My obligation to myself was to help them to do so, and to express them in written form. Writing is difficult, as we all know, and I have been struggling with – and enjoying – this challenge all of my life. For me, a passion for learning meant, partly a passion for research.


Now let me conclude. The joint research project which I have encouraged us to share today is not imaginary. Actually it is our real cooperative endeavour. At Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School we are all engaged jointly in a research project for life.

I have asked myself what I can contribute to our joint project.  I have tried to suggest three points. First, good health is the foundation. Second, education is the best gift. Third, passion is for life.

Now I invite you, dear students, to contribute to our cooperative project. Not only during your time here at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School but during your whole life.

Thank you for your attention and for the opportunity of speaking to you today. On behalf of the faculty of PKUSZ, let us welcome the opening of the 2014-2015 academic year.

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Peking University School of Transnational Law

Room 410, School of Transnational Law
Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School,
University Town, Xili, Nanshan District,
Shenzhen, China 518055