Monday, March 28, 2016

Environmental Protection Agency Roundtable in Nanjing

On March 3rd, six students from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) had the opportunity to meet with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegation led by Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe from the Office of Air and Radiation. The delegation was in Nanjing on official business, but took time to hold a roundtable discussion with "future environmental leaders” at Nanjing University, with the purpose of fostering dialogue on air and climate change issues and challenges.  A select group of students and faculty from both Nanjing University and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center were invited to attend. Participants included six students from HNC, HNC Resident Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) Roger Raufer, as well as members of Nanjing University's School of the Environment, including Dean Bi Jun, Professor Zhang Haiyan, and other Chinese graduate students.


The EPA delegates spoke to students at length about their collaboration with Chinese counterparts on various measures to improve air quality in China. Nanjing, like many other Chinese cities, frequently suffers from bouts of moderate to severe air pollution. HNC students welcomed the EPA’s frank discussion of China’s air pollution challenges, especially because the subject is often highly sensitive and heavily politicized in Chinese political life.

“Air pollution has been one of China’s most significant environmental problems,” said Kerry Read, one of the HNC students in attendance.  “Living in China has made the pollution all the more apparent. It was great to hear about the work Ms. McCabe and her team have been a part of in recent years to address this issue.”

Air pollution is a familiar topic to students at the HNC. Many of the ERE courses offered at the Center are focused on topics like environmental protection, environmental policymaking, and energy use. Professor Raufer teaches the course “Air Pollution and Its Control” in the fall, as well as “Economic Instruments of Pollution Control” in the spring. The students who attended the roundtable discussion have all taken Professor Raufer’s classes and have also chosen ERE as their specialization.

“There is significant need for Sino-U.S. cooperation in mitigating the environmental problems faced by China and other developing nations,” explained first year master’s student Mykael Goodsell-Sootho. “The ERE courses I’ve taken thus far have allowed me to develop a more comprehensive understanding of these problems, as well as the strategies that may be employed to alleviate them.”

The roundtable discussion was an excellent opportunity for students to garner insight from experienced practitioners about the realities of working in the field of environmental protection.

“It was an invaluable chance to know EPA better and understand current U.S.-China issues,” said Cheng Huihui, a second year master’s student.

“I learned a lot about the different perspectives between Chinese and American agencies and how it affects intergovernmental cooperation,” added another student, Chen Yunjie.

Following the discussion on air pollution, Acting Assistant Administrator McCabe also welcomed an open Q&A session. Du Yufan, an HNC student who is writing his master’s thesis on China’s carbon markets, asked whether a future linkage was possible between China’s national carbon market (set to begin next year) and a potential U.S. carbon market. The short answer: probably not, given the vast differences in the two jurisdictions. Other questions concerned the fate of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, differences between environmental governance in the U.S. and China and, of course, what the future holds for Sino-U.S. environmental collaboration.

In the future, McCabe emphasized, overcoming global environmental challenges will require a long-term, coordinated effort by dedicated professionals working in both countries. By choosing to focus on environmental issues, she joked with the students, “You’ll never be out of work.” 

Written by Victoria Wu, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA Student

Monday, March 21, 2016

HNC Alumni Profile: Shirlene Yee

Shirlene Yee, MAIS 2012, reflects back on her time at the HNC and her experience working as a Foreign Service Officer. 

Tell us about your current role.
Currently I am a diplomat (Foreign Service Officer) with the U.S. Department of State. This summer I am completing my first overseas assignment in Manila and will continue on to my second assignment in Toronto. Last year I returned to China for a month assignment in Chengdu. With China's involvement in Southeast Asia and its widespread diaspora communities, the Philippines and Canada provide ample opportunity to speak Chinese and deepen knowledge of China's role worldwide.
How do you think your experience at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center prepared you for this work?

Taking graduate level classes in Chinese, writing a graduate thesis in Chinese, and studying alongside Chinese and international students all while in Nanjing built a robust foundation for my work in diplomacy. With half the student body Chinese nationals and half from numerous foreign countries, you are challenged to evaluate your world perspective and cultural framework. Communicating in a culturally competent manner is a subtle yet crucial skill in any international work; it is a skill the Hopkins-Nanjing Center environment specially seeks to cultivate.
What was your most memorable moment when you were at the HNC?

Participating in the Jessup International Law Moot Court remains a favorite memory. HNC was (and perhaps still is) the only school in China with both Chinese and international students participating on an international moot court team together. We competed with the top universities across all of China in debating the pressing issues in international law. Our first year, all four of our oralists placed in the Top 15 (out of 150+ total) at China’s national round. The next year, we advanced to the World Round in Washington, D.C. It was an unforgettable exercise in teamwork, debate, and international law.

What advice would you give someone contemplating attending the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
Embrace your time in Nanjing to get to know your peers as you will continue to cross paths in the future. It's easy to get bogged down with the master's thesis and academic work, especially those staying beyond one year. Many incredible people go through HNC that you will connect with again down the road. These friends and classmates will become your professional colleagues. I've had the good fortune of connecting with alumni around the world--in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Manila, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Monday, March 14, 2016

HNC Alumni Profile: Sam Brummitt

Sam Brummitt, HNC Certificate 2013 and SAIS MA 2014, reflects back on his time at the HNC and his experience working for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Tell us about your current role.
I'm an International Trade Analyst in the International Trade Administration, one of several agencies under the U.S. Department of Commerce. I work in a unit called Enforcement and Compliance, which investigates unfair trade practices, such as cases of foreign governments providing subsidies or loans that discriminate against U.S. companies, foreign products being "dumped" into the U.S. market, and WTO compliance issues. In addition to working on several customs issues related to imports from China, right now I am working on cases with India, South Korea, Turkey, and Italy. Chinese language skills are invaluable in my job as the U.S. government has more unfair trade cases with China than with any other trading partner. 

How do you think your experience at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center prepared you for this work?
My day-to-day work touches on policy, international trade law, economics, and accounting, among other disciplines, so I need to learn quickly and process and analyze a lot of information. As a Certificate student at HNC I had the flexibility to take classes in a range of subjects, from politics and history to economics and statistics. On top of the diverse coursework, most of my courses were taught in Chinese so I had to push myself to learn new vocabulary, write academic papers in Chinese, and debate substantive issues in class. Many of my courses at HNC were small, seminar-style classes where we discussed social and political issues that had no clear-cut answer. In my job as an analyst I have to review opposing arguments submitted by the various parties involved in a case, dig for the facts, and evaluate ambiguous and contradictory information. The answer is never given to me, instead I have to consider the facts, choose a side and defend it, much like the classroom discussions I took part in at HNC.

What was your most memorable moment when you were at the HNC?
My first semester at HNC coincided with the 2012 presidential election in the U.S., and several of my most memorable experiences revolved around the election. We spent a good part of the day after the U.S. election in the auditorium, where students, faculty and several guests from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai watched the results come in on live TV. A few weeks before the election  I received my absentee ballot in the mail and that sparked a fascinating conversation with my Chinese roommate about the voting process, the electoral college, and the impact of election on U.S. foreign policy. I revisited many of those topics when I met up with my roommate in Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago, where he is in now in law school, and we got right back into discussing the current election campaigns.

What advice would you give someone contemplating attending the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
My advice is to enjoy your time as a student, but also spend some time and effort figuring out what you want to do for a career. I noticed that my classmates at HNC and SAIS who knew what field they wanted to get into tended to get a lot more out of their graduate studies than other students. If you feel you have too many different interests or you're not sure what you want to do, take advantage of the opportunities to do an internship, meet alumni, talk to professors and career counselors, and participate in career treks.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The HNC Excels in Jessup International Law Moot Court National Rounds

HNC Team
Considered the gold standard, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court competition is the world’s largest and most competitive. Participants from over 550 law schools, hailing from 80 countries, compete in a realistic fictional dispute before the International Court of Justice. The Court is composed of internationally renowned legal scholars and experts, many of who are judges and lawyers from around the globe. Each year, participants spend 6 months or more conducting in-depth legal research and preparing not only oral but also written pleadings arguing on behalf of the applicant and respondent positions before the Court.

Coached by Professors Thomas Simon and Roda Mushkat, the HNC team (Wu Nan, Chen Yi, Shi Mengjie, Gayoung Park, and Clarise Brown) have worked with great passion and perseverance since September. Despite heavy course loads in their target language, the HNC team worked arduously and devoted significant time to the Jessup Moot Court competition. Moreover, during winter break, they made significant sacrifices in order to rent an apartment in Shanghai and forego the holiday with their families in order to devote their time to practice for the competition

In February, their efforts paid off. Their arguments on the issues of foreign surveillance and cyber-attacks in international law not only provided them a unique opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the role of international law in international relations, but also earned them outstanding recognition as 3rd place in China’s national rounds among over 40 other teams from law schools throughout China. Moreover, their representation of the HNC in the competition reflects not only their hard work, but also the advantage of the HNC’s unique Chinese-English language and international law program.

The HNC has competed in this internationally recognized competition since Professor Simon began the program in 2011. The teams almost always have ranked near the top in the Chinese national round. 2016 marks the second time that the HNC has qualified for the White & Case International Rounds. However, this team achieved the highest ranking ever of any past HNC team. The team looks forward to representing the Hopkins-Nanjing Center once more as finalists in Washington, D.C. March 27-April 2 of this year, competing for the coveted Jessup International Moot Court Cup and worldwide recognition of their skills and efforts.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Staying Caffeinated at the HNC

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share my favorite coffee places around the HNC’s neighborhood. Check ‘em out below!

Having some coffee and studying at Pause Cafe

#1 Big Train
Rating: 5 stars
Price: $
Wifi: Yes
Distance from the HNC: 5 min, walking
Description: This is a small grab and go café that offers a variety of drinks from coffee and espresso drinks to tea, juice and some more creative Asian flavored drinks (a sweet potato rose latte for example—actually quite good). They also have a punch card where you can get a free drink after 10 drinks are purchased. Big Train is probably the number one spot HNC students go to when in need of a coffee fix. The owner Chen and his fiancé from Anhui province are a young and friendly couple managing the shop. Right now they are looking to expand their business. If you ever have time to spare, sit down inside and practice your Chinese with them! This is my favorite coffee shop around the HNC.

#2 Skyways Bakery
Rating: 3 stars
Price: $$
Wifi: Yes
Distance from the HNC: 5 min, walking
Description: This small bakery near campus that offers sandwiches, salad and yes, baked goods (as the name implies). The coffee here is okay and if you come between 11am and 1pm you can get a free muffin with your coffee. There is a small divided level area for seating if you would like to sit next to the European study abroad students that like to frequent Skyways. It is a bit noisy however depending on what time of day you choose to camp out. The ladies who work here are very friendly, just remind them to fill your coffee cup up all the way!

#3 Sculpting in Time (SiT)
Rating: 3 stars
Price: $$
Wifi: Yes
Distance: 7 min, walking
Description from the HNC: SiT is also a chain, with branches in Beijing and other Chinese cities. The atmosphere is nice and the inside of the café is decorated. Large and spacious with lots of room to grab your own table. Drinks and food here are slightly pricey, but good if you want to camp out for a while. Also no smoking inside.

#4 MaanCat Café
Rating: 3.5 stars
Price: $$
Wifi: Yes
Distance from the HNC: 7 min, walking
Description: MaanCat Café, not to be confused with Maan Café, is located past Big Train on Hankou Lu. The inside is very decorated and it's a nice place to camp out or sit and relax with friends. A small menu is available with sandwiches, salads, waffles and drinks. Prices here are on range with SiT. Coffee quality is okay, but I don't suggest you come here unless you plan on spending some time working.

#5 Maan Café
Rating: 3.5 stars
Price: $$
Wifi: Yes
Distance from the HNC: 25 min, walking   
Description: Maan Café is located across from the hospital on the other end of Nanjing University’s campus. This location is bigger than MaanCat Café. It is also a nice place to go if you want to explore and get a little bit further away from campus, while still being able to get some work done. Be forewarned though, sometimes people will smoke. The café is big enough where you can avoid them, but if crowded this may not be an option. This café has a small menu similar to MaanCat Café’s and has a punch card for regulars.

#6 Pause Café
Rating: 4 stars
Price: $$
Wifi: Yes
Distance from the HNC: 10 min, walking
Description: This café is a nice sit down option located in an alleyway near campus. They offer a few baked goods, espresso, coffee and tea drinks. The Chinese owners are generally friendly and it’s convenient to go to on the way or back from going out to eat since it is between campus and some restaurants. The walls are whitewashed and mellow music or old rock is played. There is also a patio to work outside if available. I really like this café, except when there are smokers. If you are in a different room of the café, you should be fine, but sometimes there is not enough room.

#7 HNC Coffee Interest Group
Rating: 100 zillion stars
Price: $
Wifi: Yes
Distance from the HNC: In the Student Lounge!
Description: Obviously the star of this list. This ‘café’ is student run by the HNC Coffee Interest Group. It is probably the cheapest option out there, and the closest, and most convenient for desperate, crazed, grad school students. I hear there are sometimes even faculty sightings—I know, like seeing rock stars! This is a nice place to chill out with friends (as it’s in the student lounge), unwind with Super Mario Smash Bros., or just get work done. If you need to you can run back to your room to grab stuff, go to the cafeteria or gym. Super convenient. Menu right now includes the HNC’s finest coffee (Thomas Mao approved), tea, milk tea, and Swiss Miss Mocha. You should definitely visit this one.

That’s my current list of coffee around the HNC! Hopefully it will help you all if you choose to visit or to apply while considering your caffeine addictions (whether you have one or if it will develop).
Stay tuned for my next post.

Thanks, all!

Written by Chelsea Toczauer, Current MAIS student