(for the original see here – credit for the photos: 熊雨晴; Weibo:@大象在拍照; scroll down for the English version)
Peter, the first year of your work at BCC is now coming more or less to an end.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about your impressions?
Of course, it is actually a pleasure for me. In some way it had been a quiet
year – things went smoothly although the BCC as cooperation between a
Chinese and European university is new: a new experience for the two
participating universities but also in general some new terrain. So, this was
enough new ground for possible problems. However, all, who participated had
been doing a wonderful work and proved by their patience and mutual
understanding that the real value of such project is grounded in people. And
having said“all, who participated” means not least the students.
The students? But I heard you and your colleagues occasionally complaining a
little bit about the students. Was that a wrong impression?
Of course we are complaining – it is a little bit part of the nature of teachers:
complaining. But let us be honest: the students face a tremendous challenge.
They enter a subject that is entirely new to them. Academic studying is a world
of entirely different thinking than we are used to – you may say they learn a new
language. And in the case of BCC, the students have to do this by using a
foreign language – all the work is undertaken in English. So you may say that
they are learning two languages at the same time. Taking up this challenge
deserves huge respect.
Let me come to another point. Originally you signed a contract for one year –
and now you decided to stay for another year. Is that right? And if so, why did
you change your mind and stay on?
There are different reasons – and in some way it is actually very much linked to
the first point. Throughout my life, I worked in different institutions: teaching at
different universities, having been lucky that I had been invited to join research
programmes – the latest was actually the position of Foreign Senior Expert in
Hangzhou. There had been many outstanding opportunities – and they had
been outstanding because I could join into excellent existing settings. I surly do
not want to miss that. However, here in Changsha the exciting challenge is to
be part of developing something that is more or less new: this joint venture
between the two universities. And as I worked for at least 30 years in
international settings, this seems to be a kind of master plan of my life. It is not
just working internationally, but it is also about contributing to shaping this
process. Of course, it is a small project if we look at the overall development of
international education. And my role in it is small tiny – just one of the many
teachers. Still, there are the different points to it. Working in a new project
means having the opportunity to develop something new. Also: my education is
very broad, beginning from economics and sociology, going to philosophy and
political science and including some law; my professional background
consists of teaching, researching and politics. From there I have a little bit the
ambition to mark the beginning of the teaching economics as something that
has to take a broad perspective, being more than areligion of equations. It has
to be a discipline for people’s real life. As such it can help us to
understand things and to make them work for everybody,not a minority. And not
least: people here are nice – and this is surely part of “excellence” – a term that
is so fashionable today. Real excellence is not least the ambition that we can
develop together something that has a small impact. There is a saying that we
as academics are standing of the shoulders as dwarfs: the administrators, the
teachers and not least the students. And we have to make sure that it moves
further by giving full respect to all sides that are involved. Any dominance from
one side would be dangerous. It also means that the process of mutual
learning need to be emphasised more.
Thank you for the time.