New England China Seminar - Rachel Stern and Jonathan Watts


Monday, November 8, 2010, 5:15pm to 8:45pm

New England China Seminar
The New England China Seminar offers two lectures in one evening, with a dinner break in between, attracting an audience from the regional community. Scholars with interesting projects or books on modern and contemporary China are invited to present their work.

Monday, November 8, 2010
5:15 pm Lecture

Running on Hope: International Soft Support and
Chinese Environmental Lawyers

Rachel Stern, Junior Fellow, Harvard University Society of Fellows

How—if at all—do international programs designed to support environmental litigation affect the day-to-day practice and core commitments of legal professionals? One way to answer this question is to trace one particular type of transnational activism. Dr. Stern takes a close look at soft support programs that invest in human capital by enhancing participants’ legal skills, knowledge, and experience, from conception to implementation in both the United States and China. In her experience, the payoff is a fresh perspective on globalization, offering insight as to how middlemen translate lofty goals into practical programs and why both Americans and Chinese seek out connections across borders.

Rachel Stern received her PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. She is completing a book manuscript titled “In Safety’s Shadow: Suing Polluters in China.” Her most recent article, “On the Frontlines: Making Decisions in Chinese Civil Environmental Cases,” appeared in Law & Policy (January 2010). Earlier pieces on Chinese protest, air pollution, and the female inheritance movement in Hong Kong have appeared in Popular Protest in China (2008) as well as the Asian Survey, Current Anthropology and Mobilization.

6:30 pm Dinner Break – See option below

7:30 pm Lecture         
China’s Economic Boom and Environmental Bust
as a Global Security Challenge

Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, The Guardian

Many analyses of China’s international relations focus on politics or trade, but to truly understand China's relations with the outside world Jonathan Watts encourages understanding of environmental issues. He takes a down-and-dirty look at China's ecological challenges and examines why they differ from challenges faced by other countries during a similar stage of development. Drawing on more than 200 interviews with senior politicians, scientists, businessmen and individuals across the country, he considers why history and geography create challenges in China, where ecological walls may block growth and increase stress with other nations, and whether scientific development and renewable energy can turn China green.

Jonathan Watts is author of When a Billion Chinese Jump, an environmental travelogue that traces China's development from coal mines and cancer villages to eco-cities and science labs. His multimedia career includes seven years in Japan, five trips to North Korea, and work for CNN, BBC, TV Tokyo, Mother Jones, South China Morning Post, and Daily Yomiuri.  He has reported on the 2000 G8 summit, the 2002 World Cup, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the Copenhagen climate conference, the Boao Forum, renewable energy developments, and more rubbish dumps than he cares to remember. He is former president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.

Location:  CGIS South, Room S030, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

New England China Seminar Dinner Option
We welcome participants who wish to attend both sessions of the New England China Seminar to join colleagues for a buffet dinner at 6:30-7:30 pm, in Room S153. The dinner cost is $15 per person ($10 for students). Due to space limitations, we will accept 30 reservations on a first come first serve basis. Advance reservation and payment is required. Please register by Thursday, November 4, by 5:00 pm, with Linda Kluz at You will receive instructions for payment by cash or check.