One of the popular myths about the Great Wall of China
is that it is visible from space. That’s not true (it’s not visible
with the naked eye), but it’s still an incredible sight. The Wall’s
origins date back to the 5th century, but the Ming Dynasty is best known for
its additions to the Wall after the Ming army’s defeat by the Mongols
in the mid 1400s.
Today, I hired a taxi with two of the other conference participants and
visited Mutianyu, one of the sections of the Wall that is close to
Beijing. On the way there, we saw a few sights not often seen at home:
the entire staff of a restaurant, in uniform, doing morning
calisthenics in formation on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant was
one, a man towing a load of logs behind his bicycle was another.
One of the great benefits of attending a conference like LSPI is the
opportunity to spend time with academics from other countries. Not only
do we learn about other legal systems, we learn about how universities
in other countries work. For instance, in the U.S., a law professor is
certain to progress from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to
Professor, so long as she teaches well, serves the school and the
larger legal community, and writes articles regularly. In other
countries, however, the title “Professor” is given to the few. For
instance, in Australia, the ranks are Associate Lecturer, Lecturer,
Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, and Professor. The jump from
Senior Lecturer to Associate Professor is the hardest to make; in order
to do so, one must show that he has an international reputation. To
prove an international reputation, a candidate must have a record of
participation in international conferences and publication in
international journals. For an Australian academic, a publication in
the Harvard Law Review would
not count for anything, as it is edited by students. In many U.S. law
schools, however, a publication in a peer-reviewed journal geared to an
international audience would not count for much.
Spending a week in China with colleagues from other countries has been a
fantastic experience, and I thank Dean Ammons for making it possible!