Thursday, December 17, 2015

Faculty Interview: Professor of International Law Roda Mushkat

This week, our student blogger, Andrew Retallick, sat down with HNC International Law Professor Roda Mushkat. Professor Mushkat also advises the HNC student Moot Court team, who recently placed second in the China-wide Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot Competition-a great accomplishment considering the HNC is small institution with no law school. The Moot Court Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute before the International Criminal Court. The HNC regularly competes in Moot Court Competitions. Read our past blog posts to learn more. 

Professor Roda Mushkat is my professor for International Humanitarian & Armed Conflict Law. The class is one of, if not my favorite class here at HNC and it really is in no small part due to Professor Mushkat’s teaching. The class is taught in English, moves at a reasonable pace, has clear instruction and always has one or two examples of how the regulations/laws are applicable in the real world. To give readers and anyone interested a better understanding of the class and HNC Academics, I decided to sit down and ask professor Mushkat some questions. 

Q&A with Professor Roda Mushkat

Please tell me a little about your background, individual research, and how you came to HNC?
I was born in Israel, obtained my first law degree [LL.B] there, continued my studies at a more advanced level (encompassing a Postgraduate Certificate in International Law, LL.M & Doctor of Laws) in various parts of the world, practiced family law briefly, and have subsequently taught international law and related subjects for over three decades in Hong Kong, the UK, and, as of 2011, at HNC, Nanjing/China. I have also served as a visiting professor at a number of leading law schools in Canada and the US. My longest association, extending over 26 years, including as the Head of the Law Department, has been with the University of Hong Kong where I continue to serve as a visiting and honorary professor.  My academic research has been in the areas of public international law, law & international relations, international environmental law, international humanitarian law, international refugee law, constitutional law, comparative law, law & society, and law & economics. I have published a large number of books, book chapters and journal articles in these fields.

What classes do you teach?
Legal Foundations of International Relations
International Humanitarian Law/Law of Armed Conflict
International Environmental Law & Policy
International Dispute Resolution

How long have you been teaching at HNC?
This is my fifth year.

Can you describe the pedagogical techniques used at HNC?
I can only speak for myself. I place a heavy emphasis on a systematic approach to law, with a strong theoretical and methodological orientation, coupled with careful reliance on primary and secondary sources, as well as an interdisciplinary focus, incorporating elements of social science and philosophy.

What, in your opinion, is the biggest benefit to studying at HNC?
Bicultural, bilingual, and multidisciplinary setting, infused with a sense of community; a well-organized small institution not suffering from diseconomies of scale (“small is beautiful” phenomenon).

What, in your opinion, is the biggest benefit to studying in Nanjing?
An exposure to Chinese culture and politico-economic realities in a city that is maintaining its Chinese characteristics and modernizing at a moderate rather than fast pace; a convenient location in central China.

What, in your opinion, do students often struggle with at HNC? Does it differ for International and Chinese students?

Sense of distance from home and isolation; the struggle of becoming accustomed to using Chinese or English language at the graduate level; challenges of transition from undergraduate to graduate level; challenges of transition from Chinese to American/Western modes of learning and vice versa.  The adaptation and coping mechanisms may assume different forms on the Chinese and international sides, but the underlying issues are similar.

Have you kept in touch with previous students (Western and Chinese)? Where do most of them go (industry, govt., continued study) after HNC? 
Yes, selectively; my students tend to pursue careers in law or related fields; ERE is a new area of opportunity.

Do you have any recommendations for incoming students to prepare for HNC?
To be open-minded, to be positive, and to work hard and productively, without overlooking one’s personal development.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
The HNC is a unique institution capable of playing a highly beneficial role in the expansion of students’ intellectual, cultural, and personal horizons; every effort should be made to take full advantage of the opportunities it provides.

Many thanks to professor Mushkat for taking the time to answer my questions. Look for my upcoming post on an interview I had with one of the Chinese faculty members.

Written by Andrew Retallick, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA Student