By Karell Michaud
From May 15 to May 24, it was McGill’s turn to host the 6th edition of the McGill/Shantou Summer Law Program. Thanks to the generosity of the Li Ka Shing Foundation (Canada), a group of 20 to 25 McGill and Shantou University (STU) law students are able to participate in intensive two-week visits to McGill or STU in alternating years.
This year, the STU delegation coming to McGill was made up of a record number of 14 law students, accompanied by four professors. They made the long flight to Montreal to meet up with Professors Jian Chen and Di Yang – visiting scholars from STU who have been doing research at McGill since February under the Li Ka Shing Junior Fellowship Program – as well as the McGill group, comprised of 11 students, Professor Nandini Ramanujam, program director Véronique Bélanger, and several other McGill faculty.
“The McGill/Shantou Summer Law program is a very intensive, but highly enriching experience” says McGill’s Assistant Dean (Strategic Planning) Véronique Bélanger. “Through the different assignments and the comparison of two legal systems, the students from STU and McGill have many opportunities to collaborate and learn as much from each other as they do from the instructors, perhaps even more.”
This year’s agenda was especially packed with trips and activities. As in previous years, McGill and STU students attended separate classes where the instructors from the other university would teach them about Canada’s or China’s culture and legal systems respectively. In addition, the students worked together in a number of joint classes focusing on this year’s theme “Environmental Law and Sustainable Development”.
The program also offered several activities outside of the classroom. For instance, over the Victoria Day weekend, the whole group was off to La Vieille Capitale (Quebec City) for a weekend excursion, then to Ottawa city for a day trip, where they attended a hearing of the Supreme Court of Canada. The schedule also included a visit of Montreal’s Courthouse and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG).
Given this edition’s central theme, a guided tour of the MacDonald Campus Farm seemed in order, and turned out to be one of this year’s highlights. Paul Meldrum, Manager of Farm and Field Operations for the MacDonald Campus, generously gave hours of his time to show the students around and to give many of them their first introduction to modern agriculture and its regulatory regime.
Back in the classroom, students from both schools collaborated on a number of assignments, including recording a group podcast on a sustainable development topic and engaging in two negotiation simulations. In one of these roleplay exercises, McGill and STU students represented different stakeholders in a round table to discuss an international trade crisis between France and fictitious “Chinada”. Tasked with the mission of coming to an agreement on regulations to rule the production and trade of “Chinadese Scallops”, students were not only introduced to the general principles of food law, environmental regulations and international trade, but also confronted their own preconceptions, both legal and cultural, through their interaction with other students.
“The McGill/Shantou Summer Law Program ties in well with our Faculty’s focus on learning from the dialogue between different legal traditions”, concludes Véronique Bélanger. “It is a unique opportunity to foster the students’ interest in transnational law and governance, and prepare them for legal practice in a globalized world.”