Recently, STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas was interviewed by Neos Kosmos, a Greek community newspaper published in Melbourne, Australia. In April, Professor Minas was elected as the new Vice Chair of the Technology Executive Committee of the UN Climate Change. As a response to this newly procured position, Neos Kosmos interviewed Professor Minas about his career path.
Talking about his life, professor Minas shares that he is a “product of multiple homes.” Growing up, his parents migrated from northern Greece to Australia and he has also lived in Great Britain, Hong Kong and now China.
Before joining STL, Professor Minas has worked as a visiting lecturer at King’s College London, an adviser to the Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, and for members of the Australian Parliament. He is admitted as an Australian lawyer and has completed the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre’s Tribunal Secretary Accreditation Programme.
When asked about his achievements, Professor Minas addressed the importance of luck saying that “the role played by chance is always considerable” and points to a “team effort”.
Neos Kosmos is a Greek community newspaper published in Melbourne, Australia, every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Founded in 1957 by Dimitri Gogos, Bill Stefanou, and the noted author Alekos Doukas.
A Letter from Dean McConnaughay
The Great Mass Online Teaching Experiment – Professor Ray Campbell
STL Moved to Online Teaching for New Semester During Covid-19 Outbreak
STL Faculty Received Training for Online Teaching under COVID-19 Outbreak
Professor Francis Snyder Received Interview from Peking University on Covid-19 Outbreak
A Letter to Chinese National Exam Students
LAST CHANCE TO APPLY FOR AY2020-21
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As the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic continues, Peking University School of Transnational Law began the new semester with online teaching on March 2nd.
STL courses are offered using both synchronous (students and instructor simultaneously online) and asynchronous instruction (students and instructor not simultaneously online). Some courses combined synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Considering the current situation under Covid-19, online teaching will last for at least the first several weeks of the quarter.
The success of the transition to online teaching required a level of energy, innovation and cooperation between all the different STL factions: staff, faculty and students. Dean McConnaughay emphasized that the transition would not have been possible were it not for “Dean Pangilinan and his colleagues in Academic Affairs, the efforts of our faculty in reconfiguring their courses to adapt to an online format, and the efforts of all STL students to participate in remote instruction with the same serious engagement characteristic of their participation when classes are taught in person”. The Dean further stated that “our goal is to continue to offer the highest quality J.D. and J.M. educational experience possible despite the challenges presented by Covid-19”.
Professor Campbell, whose current research specially concentrates on the changing nature of the legal services marketplace in light of technological and economic innovations, has long been fascinated by the possibilities of online teaching.
After one-week of experimenting with online teaching, he has flurry of ideas based on his experience. There are both advantages and disadvantages for online teaching, For example, internet could be unstable, especially because students are positioned all cross China, some of them may experience issues with audio quality or dropped connections. “To ameliorate, we are recording all classes, and students can download and listen to any difficult portions at their leisure”, said professor Campbell.
Some advantages become very obvious. “Zoom allows students to ask questions anonymously in the Q&A. This allows students to put things out there without losing face or seeming stupid, and it actually generates way more student commentary and questions than I get in a live class”.
Professor Mao Shaowei is using both synchronous and asynchronous instruction for his Advance Legal Research and Writing Class. Students should listen to his recorded classes before participating in online small group discussions with teaching assistants. “It’s not easy to keep focused and be diligent in thinking when taking online courses in a totally different study and working environment from the campus. Students should take this challenge as an opportunity, because those qualities online courses require, such as concentrating, self-discipline and self-motivation, are also what a professional lawyer requires”.
For many STL students, this is also a very unique school experience. Xie from Class 2019 said, “professors are currently in different places, Thailand, Washington, and Shenzhen … especially for those in the United States, we have 13-hour time difference. When they deliver day-time classes for us, it could be late nights for them. However, professors never stop trying their best to give the most high-quality classes despite all those difficulties. Although it is online teaching, some professors still adhere to Socratic teaching and cold call students.”
All in all, the school’s administration along with its faculty and, of course, the students are all doing to their best to cope with this unpredictable environment created by the incursion of Covid-19 and everyone is determined to turn it into a fulfilling educational experience.
In October 2019, Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford was invited to deliver a lecture and hold a discussion at STL. Judge Crawford used to be a partner at O’Neil, Crawford & Green law firm. In 2014, he was nominated by President Obama as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. He has a close relationship with STL.
On October 10th, Judge Crawford delivered the lecture on Marbury v. Madison and the Judicial Review. The lecture was moderated by Dean Philip McConnaughay and was attended by STL students and faculty.
Judge Crawford launched the lecture by providing the historical context of Marbury v. Madison—the fourth presidential election in America. President John Adams appointed nearly 60 “midnight judges” on the last day of his presidency. However, James Madison, the Secretary of State refused to deliver the commission letters for many of these judges, without which the appointment would not have officially been concluded. Marbury was one of the appointed judges who never received their official commission. Consequently, Marbury sued Madison before the Supreme Court of the United States by filing a writ of Mandamus to compel the delivery of his commission.
Judge Crawford then discussed how Judge John Marshall approached this case wisely. Judge Marshall first affirmed that Marbury was indeed entitled to the commission, that the Secretary of State’s conduct can be sued, and that Mandamus would be the correct remedy. However, he dismissed Marbury’s claim on the ground that the Constitution did not authorize original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court of the United States in issuing Mandamus. The Judiciary Act of 1789, which authorized the original jurisdiction, was unconstitutional. With that, Marshall’s holding established the US Supreme Court’s power of judicial review.
By way of comparison, Judge Crawford then analyzed the judicial review system in China and the UK. In China, the court does not have the power of judicial review. Instead, power to correct governmental action that violates the constitutional norms is vested to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. In the UK, under the principle of “Parliamentary Sovereignty,” the courts have authority to determine whether an administrative act is against parliament, but they generally do not have the power to strike down a legislation directly. As an example to demonstrate the scope of the courts’ jurisdiction, Judge Crawford discussed the recent R (Miller) v. Prime Minister case, where the UK Supreme Court struck down the Prime Minister’s prorogation of Parliament. Finally, Judge Crawfordrevisited the issue of judicial review in the US by sharing his own experience as a judge engaging in judicial review.
The lecture concluded with a Q & A session where Judge Crawford gave patient and detailed answers to the questions posed from the students and faculty. The questions ranged from the personal to the professional. On one end, for example, when asked about how to determine whether a law is good or bad, Judge Crawford said that he would adopt an economic analysis. On the other end, when asked about his transition from an appellate court judge to a trial court judge, he said that his personality contributed to the transition because the trial court was more fun.
The students and faculty were impressed by Judge Crawford’s excellent, informative and humorous lecture. Chen Xin, a 1L student, said, “I’m grateful for the first-hand experiences Judge Crawford showed us. His explanation of different ways of legal interpretation is also illuminating.” Guo Qianru, a 2L student, expressed her feelings after joining in the discussion, “Judge Crawford and Professor Campbell shared with us their very interesting work experience and touching life stories. Judge Crawford said that personality matters when choosing a future job.”
All in all, the lecture was deemed to be a memorable one that left a deep impression on students.
The review of the Peking University Academic Award for 2019 was finished last December and Marius Stucki, an LL.M graduate from STL, was recognized as one of its recipients. The award was accorded to a total of 12 PKU students, two of which were law students. PKU International Students Academic Award is offered by Peking University to international students at PKU who are not only outstanding in virtue but also in their academic field. Marius Stucki is the first student of PKUSZ to receive this award.
Marius Stucki pursued his bachelor, master and Ph.D. degrees at the Universities of Bern and Geneva. During his time as a law student and as an intern in different areas of the Swiss judicial system, he became aware of the growing importance of Swiss-Chinese business relations in recent years. At the same time, he developed an interest in better understanding the Chinese perspective on cultural, political and economic issues.
In 2017, his increasing curiosity toward China led him to attend a language summer school at the University of Wuhan. Later in the same year, he applied to STL’s LL.M program and was admitted.
Talking about his life at STL, Marius says that “what I liked a lot about my classes at STL is the fact that we were always foreign and Chinese students together. This led to interesting discussions in and outside the classroom, particularly in the classes on western or Chinese legal theory. It was also quite an experience to see first-hand the discipline and dedication of many Chinese students, but also the pressure many are under to perform well.”
His two-year time studying at STL also gave him more insight into non-academic aspects of China: “Outside the classroom, some of my fondest memories are the language exchanges with fellow Chinese students. In those meetings, we would talk casually in English and (very basic) Chinese about whatever came to mind. Through the talks, I got to know my classmates and China a lot better, with memorable insights into traditional Chinese medicine, the origin of Chinese characters, the most recent TV dramas and so on. It was a huge pleasure to discuss all the small similarities and differences between everyday life in our countries for hours and hours and, through that, to find what will hopefully be long lasting friendships.”
In March, 2020, Marius started working on the China Desk of Altenburger Ltd legal + tax, a Swiss law firm. “Working as a lawyer on China-related matters, I frequently use what I learned at STL, including the structure of China’s legal system, rules on foreign investment or contract drafting”. Asked on his wishes for the development of STL, he states that “for future years, I’m hoping that STL can provide more support to foreign students who, during or after finishing the program, also wish to get some practical legal experience within China.” “Overall,” he says, “I’m hugely grateful for the experience”.
Professor Danny Friedmann wrote the chapter “Oscillating from Safe Harbor to Liability: Towards Omniscient Intermediaries in China”, which will be published in the The Oxford Handbook of Online Intermediary Liability, edited by Professor Giancarlo Frosio, on 4 May 2020. The chapter describes the opposing and strengthening forces that influence Intermediary Liability regulation in the People’s Republic of China. China’s E-Commerce Law draft raises the standard for knowledge before infringing information might be removed; while the many laws and regulations involved in censorship exclude the possibility of ignorance. Moreover, the existent technological level of big data and developments in artificial intelligence have caught up with discussions about the desirability of safe harbors and the degree of filtering requirements. On the other hand, there is case law, recently codified in guidelines for Beijing courts, which is reinforcing the duties of care. Read a pre-publication version of the chapter here .
STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas was elected vice-chair of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) of UN Climate Change, at its meeting during the first week of April. The TEC was established in 2010 by the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The TEC also serves the Paris Agreement on climate change adopted in 2015.
The functions of the TEC include to recommend actions to promote technology development and transfer, in order to accelerate action on mitigation and adaptation, recommend guidance on policies and programme priorities related to technology development and transfer, and promote and facilitate collaboration on the development and transfer of technologies for mitigation and adaptation between governments, the private sector, non-profit organizations and academic and research communities.
Members of the TEC serve in their personal capacity and should represent a balance of technical, legal, policy, social development and financial expertise relevant to the development and transfer of technology for adaptation and mitigation.
Since its creation, the TEC has provided advice to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties on a broad range of technology issues and has established cooperative relationships with a variety of relevant bodies, including the Climate Technology Centre and Network (which provides technical assistance to developing countries) and the Green Climate Fund. Information on the outcomes of the TEC’s 20th meeting, held virtually due to the pandemic, is available here.
As coronavirus spreads across the world, many universities, including Harvard and Yale, have shifted to online classes. For China, the pandemic seems to have triggered great development in online teaching with so many educational institutions, from primary school to top universities, moving to online classes in the spring semester.
Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) has conducted remote teaching for more than two weeks with class beginning on March 2. For the majority of STL students, taking online classes at home instead of their traditional onsite classes where they get to talk to professor and classmates face-to-face is certainly unusual. Online classes may bring more flexibility, but there are lots of challenges for STL with regards to time differences and bandwidth.
On 10th March, 2020, STL Office of Communications interviewed Professor Ray Campbell about his experience and comments on remote teaching. Professor Campbell teaches Civil Procedure as well as Law and innovation this quarter. Recently he wrote a blog about online teaching experiences called “The Faculty Lounge”, which attracted wide attention and was shared by the American Association of Law Schools.
1. How is your online-teaching experience so far?
It has been really great. It’s really kind of amazing that technologically the platform exists and students in China can be expected to have good enough bandwidth. All pretty amazing.
2. I know currently you are in South Asian countries and cannot come back to Shenzhen due to the pandemic, what difficulties are you facing teaching online while traveling?
This week in order to renew my Thai visa I took a side trip to Luang Prabang in Laos, where the internet just isn’t robust enough for online teaching. To deal with that, I went asynchronous for one class, recording a lecture before I came over. Students are also differently positioned, and some students experience issues with audio quality or dropped connections. To ameliorate, we are recording all classes, and students can download and listen to any difficult portions at their leisure.
3. You mentioned in your article about library reserve not available, is this problem being solved?
The library has done a good job and is being helpful.
We have the school invest and pay for books in the library that students can take for any classes, so they don’t have to buy casebook. The library has resources that are normally only available under our license if you are on campus. Some of the databases are not supposed to be accessed away from campus and that requires some adjustment. Our library staff work hard to solve the problem and now we can access them from anywhere in the world, which allows us to research easier and assign things to students.
4. STL adapts Socratic teaching method in J.D. classes. One concern about online teaching is whether STL ’s educational philosophies will still be well-practiced. Do you find any difficulties in terms of this aspect?
I think it works pretty well that way. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised at how well it works. For example, in Civil Procedure class, I am teaching a lot of students. I am doing it through a webinar, so I don’t have to teach the same class twice. And I notify a group of students in advance that they will be on call, so they can make sure they have good bandwidth and microphones. But I don’t tell them what questions they will be called on. When students get the question, their camera goes on, they answer the question and I can do follow-up questions. So the same Socratic method they will get in the classroom, I can do that very similarly.
5. You mentioned in another podcast that STL is the future of Law, what lessons you think STL as a law school can learn from this experience?
STL is doing a very different thing, there is no other law school that teaches two legal systems as different as the Chinese legal system and the American legal system and expects students to come out knowing both languages and both legal traditions.
Now we have experienced this online dimension and I am hoping that we will be able to continue to use some of these online platforms in figuring out how to bring out some of their capabilities to physical class rooms with monitors and so forth. For example, in my Law and Innovation class, I am setting up guest speakers to come in and talk on topics where they are really highly-expert. That’s something I think we can do a lot more. I think we can expand what we can pull in to the classroom and we can expand the ways with which we can enrich the students’ experience.
6. Any comments about STL’s performance facing this outbreak?
I think school support is very good. Dean Pangilinan obviously has put a lot of time and efforts, trying to figure out the best solution. The library has been helpful, they work hard to make sure that resources for students and faculties are available. And students are being great. We are all going through a hard time right now. They are locked in their apartment basically, away from their friends, but they have been really great.
7. It is the first time ever that online-teaching is implemented university-wide. It is inevitable that we meet some challenges. As a professor and also as one of the faculty that joined STL for more than 10 years, do you think there is anything that STL can do better?
I think we can do a better job bringing the faculty together, having a couple of faculty meetings through this technology so we see each other and talk to each other. But other than that, I think the school is great. Everyone has been really busy, it’s been really challenging for the Dean, really challenging for the associate deans and for the library and everyone else. But it would be good to try to maintain a sense of community as much as we can.
8. Lastly, we know that this online-teaching situation may continue at least for the coming several weeks, do you have any advice for our students?
Firstly, I would say to maintain a positive attitude, it’s not easy being at home, but I would use the opportunity to study harder. Also, there is technology we use for classes, maybe we can get four or five of our friends, have a study group using the meeting software. We can get together for 40 minutes and talk through tomorrow’s class and be ready for it.
One of the things that are difficult right now, for faculty and students, is that people are isolated, they are living in their apartment, they are not going out a lot, the software may also be something we can use to maintain those important social connections.
In March 2020, STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas participated in an international workshop on the topic of ‘The EU and China in the Climate Regime: Exploring Different Pathways towards Climate Justice’. The workshop was hosted by the adelphi think-tank, GLOBUS (a Horizon 2020-funded project on ‘reconsidering European contributions to global justice’) and the University of Tübingen. While the multidisciplinary workshop was held in Berlin, Dr. Minas and other presenters participated remotely, due to the pandemic.
The workshop sessions focused on climate justice and China; global climate justice in between the EU and China; civil society perspectives on EU and China in the international climate regime; and foreign policy perspectives. The workshop participants included scholars and practitioners based in both Europe and China.
In his presentation, Dr. Minas addressed the issue of financing climate justice in the EU and China, and introduced recent and ongoing developments in sustainable finance law in both jurisdictions, including the proposed European Green Deal legislation and China’s ‘Green Financial System’ guidelines. STL student Loftus Zhang provided helpful research assistance.
Speaking after the workshop, Dr. Minas stated: ‘This workshop highlighted the complex interactions between EU and Chinese policymaking and the prospects for a just transition to the climate-neutral economy that the world needs. Thanks to the organisers for making remote participation possible. It’s not business as usual, but collaboration and dialogue on the great challenges of our time continue, as they must.’