Tuesday, November 5, 2019

“How to Become a Full Time Law Professor” -- Transcript of Remarks Delivered at the Panel Session, Panel 4G: How to Become a Full-Time Law Professor –A Workshop for Aspirants, 4th National People of Color Scholarship Conference

The 4th National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference took place 21-24 March 2019 in a beautiful setting, at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C.,For more information see HERE. Great thanks to American's Dean Camille Nelson for the vision to realize this important gathering.

Among the most important work of the People of Color Scholarship Conferences is their mentoring for people seeking entry into the legal academy, and then mentoring young scholars to enhance the prospects of career success. I was delighted to contribute in some way to that work at a Workshop for Law Teaching Aspirants--"How to Become a Full Time Law Professor"--at the 4th National People of Color Scholarship Conference, joining an impressive group of colleagues--Craig Konnoth (Colorado), Melinda Molina (Capital), Anita Sinha (American), and moderated by the great Alfreda Robinson (George Washington).

This post includes the transcript of my remarks at the panel: How to Become a Full Time Law Professor.  A revised version will be included along with the transcripts of the remarks by our co-panelists to be published in the Journal of Legal Education.  

The PowerPoints referenced in the Remarks and more formation on the panel may be accessed HERE.

Friday, November 1, 2019

What is the Fundamental Task of Education?: Xi Jinping's Concept of 立德树人 [Cultivating People of Moral Character] and its Implementation Through Undergraduate University Reform in 教育部关于一流本科课程建设的实施意见 [Implementation Opinions of the Ministry of Education on the Construction of First-class Undergraduate Courses]

(Pix Credit: 兰资环学院教育实践透视立德树人工程 凝心聚力锻造思想政治教育 )

Education reform has been a priority of the Xi Jinping leadership for some time.  It is a central element of "new era" theory, which links economic, political. cultural and social renovation in a tight web that each contributes to a comprehensive expression of the "new China"  under the leadership of the Communist Party.  That "new China" is a fundamentally moral project.  It elaborates a core premise that China's further economic potential can be developed only in tandem economically potent precisely because of its transposition of core socialist moral values to the constriction of society and culture as well.  That, at least, is the theory. 

But this theory requires a powerful implementation mechanism.  And that mechanism is education. Under the current leadership that sort of education reform as been high on the agenda for a number of years (e.g., Focusing on Civic Education in China--The CCP's Ideological Work Comes to the Universities: 关于进一步加强和改进新形势下高校宣传思想工作的意见). The drivers have not changed much, but the goals are far better coordinated with the comprehensive reshaping of the political-economic m0del and its cultural basis in outlook, custom and behavior. While it may be difficult to re-form the minds of current generations, a vanguard party looks to the formation of future generations for the long term transformation of the social and political order in ways that stick. To that end education acquires a more ancient form--one that starts with the moral formation of the student as the basis on which information can be both created and disseminated.  Xi Jinping theory, when turned toward education and the socialization of the young within a morally specific trajectory of socialist modernization (the morally informed development of productive forces), informs not just the way in which students are instructed, but also the context and form of that instruction as well. 

It was perhaps with that in mind that Xi Jinping set about to elaborate the fundamental task of education (习近平这样阐释教育的根本任务 ["Cultivating People of Moral Character," Xi Jinping explains the fundamental task of education] Xinhua News Agency [March 18 2019]). What is the fundamental task of education? The answer 立德树人 [Cultivating People of Moral Character] (with thanks to Flora Sapio for the translation of this quite complex and subtle term).

The concept was derived from a variety of Xi Jinping's statements put forward in a variety of context and then woven together by the Xinhua News Agency for wide distribution. Despite its subtleties, the term is both straightforward and at the same time intimately connected to the the larger projects of Chinese Social Credit (with its foundation in integrity; see "Blacklists and Social Credit Regimes in China"), and of building a rule-of-law Socialist society in the "New Era" (grounded in the 12 Core Socialist Values [社会主义核心价值观]). It was with that in mind that Xi Jinping noted an objective to "Integrate the cultivation of moral character into all aspects of ideological and moral education, cultural knowledge education, and social practice education, and run through basic education, vocational education, and higher education. The discipline system, teaching system, teaching material system, and management system should revolve around this goal.""

From that pronouncement consolidated in March 2019, only a short time passed before the publication by the Ministry of Education of implementation guidance first targeted to undergraduate education institutions and is reflected in the 教育部关于一流本科课程建设的实施意见 [Implementation Opinions of the Ministry of Education on the Construction of First-class Undergraduate Courses].  The idea is to reshape education to suit the "New Era." To that end, education is understood first as a moral project within which it is possible to infuse the most forward looking approaches to the instruction in particular fields, all understood, of course, within the moral framework that shapes the educational project in the first place.  The object is to give content to and provide a disciplined and measurable delivery system for moral character education as overseen by the vanguard as the guardians of morals, ethics, and integrity.
(用故事和事实告诉学生人生哲理,形象生动,文字配画面增强说服力,把“大德育”化身为“小水滴”,改“大水漫灌”为“精准滴灌”。涉及的内容十分丰富,包括科学知识、感恩教育、名人典故、我的中国梦、感动中国、讲评时事、国家法律法规、生活常识、教育改革与发展、传统文化、职业素养、工匠精神等,“个个都充满正能量”。"It tells students the philosophy of life with stories and facts. The image is vivid, the text is enhanced with persuasiveness, and the "great moral education" is transformed into "small water droplets". The flood irrigation is “precise drip irrigation”. The content involved is very rich, including scientific knowledge, grateful education, celebrity allusions, my Chinese dream, moving China, commenting on current affairs, national laws and regulations, common sense of life, education reform and development, traditional culture, professionalism, craftsmanship, etc., Everyone is full of positive energy."兰资环学院教育实践透视 supra.).

The idea is profound, but not unique to China (see, e.g.,Education to Meet the Labor Needs of Markets--Cuba Changes its Approach to University Education).  It reflects a certain all around approach to education that sees it intimately tied to both moral projects, and to the project of the perfectibility of humanity within the framework in which instruction acquires both meaning and direction--its rationality.  The connection between education, labor markets and political-societal socialization runs deep in the West as well. In this sense there is much that ties this approach to that of Pope John Paul II in the encyclical Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason (discussed in Fides et Ratio: Religion and Law in Legal Orders Suffused by Faith) ("This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way." Fides et Ratio ¶ 16). 

The core pronouncements of Xi Jinping follow (in the original Chinese and with crude English translation. The important Implementation Opinions of the Ministry of Education on the Construction of First-class Undergraduate Courses (教育部关于一流本科课程建设的实施意见 ) also follow in English and Chinese., including the important annex on implementation (“双万计划”国家级一流本科课程 推荐认定办法).