As globalization increases, law schools have been intensifying their international relations. Columbia University, for instance, has increased their relationships with such colleges as Peking University Law School, a relationship that began in 2006 when Columbia joined Peking in a reciprocal relationship of semester-long student exchanges, which expanded in 2011 into exchange programs for faculty to switch universities and lecture or co-teach courses. Now that direction of expansion has gone further, with the Columbia University Law School Dean David Schizer and Peking University Law School Dean Zhang Shouwen signing a memorandum of understanding between the two universities. This will allow opportunities for joint publications and joint seminars and forums.
Alexandra Carter, for one, is a Columbia University law professor visiting the Chinese campus.
“The purpose of my visit was not only to give a couple of lectures, but also to explore the opportunity for future collaboration both in [alternative dispute resolution] and in the field of clinical education,” Carter said, as ChinaDaily reported. “Clinical education is a form of learning that’s become extremely important at the top law schools here in the US and it’s an area that [Peking University] has started and is looking to expand.”
In this, Carter joined the hundreds of exchanges between the two schools. Benjamin Liebman, Robert L. Lieff professor of law and director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies at Columbia estimates that between 50 and 60 Chinese scholars visit Columbia annually.
“The idea is to try to create a framework that allows deepening of collaboration between Chinese scholars and American scholars working on common issues,” said Liebman.
“There’s a long tradition of American scholars studying China and of Chinese scholars studying the West, but there’s not a long tradition of American and Chinese scholars working together to pursue common research questions,” Liebman said.
“There’s a lot of interest in developing joint research on issues like anti-trust regulations in China and the development of China’s courts, but we don’t have a specific research agenda going in,” Liebman said.
“In my view, the real goal and the strength of this relationship is the effort to work together on common issues,” Liebman said. “It’s not that we’re studying them or they’re studying us, but rather we’re looking at common questions that face our countries and face the global legal framework together.”
The partnership with China seems only to be deepening over time, and as the world continues to globalize and neutralize strict borders or divisions between people, this progression is aligned with the progression of the world.