Interviews with Prof. Weiler



On June 1, 2002, Professor Joseph Weiler took over the direction of the Hauser Global Law School Program. Weiler, a world-renowned expert on international law and the European Union, sat down recently with NYU: The Law School Magazine to talk about his vision for the Program.

The Turn to Scholarship:
Joseph Weiler to Lead Hauser Global Law School

NYU Law: You must have many plans for the Hauser Global Law School. Can you give us a glimpse of the most important?

Weiler: "Plans" is too concrete a word at this stage. I have only recently stepped into the job, having just moved to NYU. So I can enjoy to the full the bliss of ignorance. Part of that bliss is the freedom to have dreams unencumbered yet by details such as funding, faculty governance, and other trivia we call reality.

NYU Law: An agenda, perhaps?

Weiler: That I have, and it is part of my dream. If I were to search for labels concerning my agenda for the Global Law School as it moves into its next phase, I would come up with two: in terms of emphasis, commitment of resources, and overall orientation of the program I would say "The Turn to Scholarship." In terms of its substantive intellectual content I would say "Global Law and Justice."

NYU Law: Nice slogans, but what do they mean in terms of the concrete policies of the Global Law School?

Weiler: Fair enough. The two principal activities of the Global Law School in its first decade were the creation of the Global Faculty and the Hauser Scholar Program. Both have been a magnificent success.

First, then, the global faculty. Through the global faculty we have integrated into curriculum non-American teachers and courses covering a huge variety of subjects to a degree unparalleled by any of our peer schools. The success of this part of our program has given us, justly, enhanced visibility and prestige both domestically and, yes, globally. I want to build on this success in several ways. The reputation of the Global Law School is sufficiently solid to allow us to seek to identify as potential members of the global faculty, not the stars of today, but those of tomorrow. Brilliant young academics whose initial work is very promising and suggests the potential of developing into major scholarship in future years. My thinking is that it would be hugely beneficial both to these younger scholars-and to us-to bring them into the program early in their careers when their scholarly sensibilities and approaches are still being formed and where their ability to profit from the NYU environment is greater than established scholars already set in their ways. I am also sure that their willingness and ability truly to identify with us and to think of NYU Law as an integral part of the intellectual and institutional home would be greater.

In the same vein I would try so far as possible to cut down on the seven week visits by our global faculty members and keep that as an option only in exceptional circumstances, pushing for the semester-long visit as our default. Even more ambitiously, I would try to make arrangements to enable our global faculty to stay in residence for two semesters-one of which would be dedicated entirely to research. I want to try and change the perception that being a "global" is mostly about short teaching visits. It is, too, about longer term intellectual engagement and about one's very scholarly agenda being impacted.

Prof. Weiler NYU Law: Is such engagement consistent with the structure of the program? As presently constructed, the Global Law School Program envisions some faculty coming for up to three visits and others, more uniquely, becoming "long-term globals" with a further four years. How does this fit with your agenda?

Weiler: I am only beginning to form a view on this aspect of the program. My initial thoughts are simple enough: I hope to persuade the faculty to allow us to take more "risks" at the initial invitation stage-in a way that would broaden the intellectual breadth of the global faculty. This would reduce the huge investment in precious faculty time in screening candidates who might end up as global visitors for one or possibly two semesters. My inclination would be to shift the really heavy screening to the point at which a global visitor is recommended for the position of a long term global faculty member. More importantly, I would want to introduce the research agenda of the would-be long term global faculty as a crucial element in our selection. My thought is that a necessary (though not sufficient) condition for any such long term appointment should be a scholarly project which, ideally, would be conducted with members of our permanent faculty so that the global faculty members would be understood not only as contributing to our educational mission, but also to our vocation and identity as a community of scholars.

NYU Law: What, then, of the Hauser Scholar Program?

Weiler: It is, of course, a magnificent program; Hausers are rightly considered as the Rhodes Scholars of legal education. We will soon be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the program and there will be a lot of young legal leaders on display. But the 10th anniversary is also a good time for rethinking. I am toying, in particular, with one idea. To date, compared to our peer law schools in the U.S., there are fewer NYU alumni in teaching positions in overseas law faculties. This is an anomaly that requires our urgent attention. I think the Hauser Scholar Program can contribute substantially to efforts to redress this. Right now almost all Hauser Scholars are LL.M. candidates. Most will go on to successful and distinguished careers in the profession. A few will pursue academic careers. In the future, I would like to reserve half the Hauser resources for LL.M.s. But the other half, I would like to allocate to young scholars-S.J.D.s and even "post-docs." One practical but hugely important difference would be the ability almost to double the annual number of Hausers. Since the non-LL.M. component would not need to pay tuition, we would be getting almost two-for-one, so to speak. The selection of these Hausers would be every bit as rigorous as is our practice for the LL.M.s. But, in addition to impeccable credentials, they would have a convincing research project and very concrete plans for an academic career. The short-term goal of these new Hauser Scholars would not be an LL.M. degree but a first-class piece of scholarship. The long term prospect? Imagine if, after the second decade of the Hauser Scholar program, we could take pride in 50 to 100 law professors world-wide whose careers began as Hauser Scholars?

NYU Law: You have spoken so far of the existing principal components of the Global Program. There must be more. Weiler: There is one other existing component of which the potential to date has not been fully valorized. I am thinking of our visiting researcher and visiting scholar programs. They are potentially a huge pool of scholarly talent. I do not think that we have successfully integrated this component into the Global Program, and more broadly, the NYU Law community. I am thinking of a major revamp in this field. Here are some examples (and don't forget, the operative word is "dreams"): At the heart of NYU's intellectual life are the Colloquia-unique fora bringing together faculty and students in the pursuit of core legal themes. I want to make available to each Colloquium the possibility of selecting each year two "Global Colloquia Fellows" from jurisdictions outside the U.S. whose research interests and expertise coincide with that of the Colloquium. They would become active participants in the Colloquium, interacting with students and faculty, presenting their own papers. Ideally, they would spend the semester before or after the Colloquium in residence, pursuing their own research under the guidance of the Colloquium faculty leader. The idea of Global Colloquia Fellows represents to me a perfect expression of the "Turn to Scholarship." It also underscores the notion that the Global Law School is not only, or even mostly, about "International" or "Globalization" with a capital I or G, but is a reflection of the internationalization and globalization of all dimensions of law, be they corporate or environmental. It would also underscore a different model of selecting and interacting with our visiting researchers and visiting scholars-selected and invited with an eye on our own intellectual agenda and then integrated fully and harmoniously into the school's academic life.

NYU Law: Would that replace our current visiting researcher program?

Weiler: No, no. I would not want to tie all visiting researchers and scholars to the Colloquia. After all, there are important themes that go beyond our Colloquia. I am thinking of creating an Annual Global Forum, selecting each year a theme of broad interest in the legal world-terrorism, money laundering, selection of judges to supreme courts in different countries, asylum-to name a few. The Global Law School would announce these themes at least two years ahead of time, with a view to encouraging applications from visiting researchers and scholars whose research interests coincide with these themes. One obvious objective of the forum would be to facilitate research and scholarship on themes we consider important. But an important ancillary objective would be to create a group of people with a common research interest, enhancing intellectual synergies, fostering long term friendships and, not least, producing critical mass of research-possibly resulting in a book and/or a series of articles where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I also have long term institutional hopes from both initiatives-that the fellows in these programs will not only network among themselves but for years to come will continue to see us, NYU Law, as an important milestone in their intellectual life and will become lifetime "honorary" alumni and part of the NYU family.

NYU Law: In addition to "The Turn to Scholarship," you also mentioned "Global Law and Justice." Weiler: It would be odd, would it not, if the Global Law School did not have as one of its central pillars a commitment to the issue of Globalization? It would be equally odd if, during my tenure as Chair and Director of the Hauser Global Law School Program, it did not reflect, in one of its central pillars, my own intellectual agenda. I take globalization as a given and I believe that it has had, and will continue to have, many beneficial effects on rich societies and poor. But it is also afflicted with many problems which produce at times gross injustices. Indeed, if I had my way, I would rename what we are doing the Global Law and Justice Program. The internal implications of this commitment are obvious enough. Each year I will be leading a seminar which will pick up a theme which would fit under the Global Law and Justice umbrella. Next year, for example, the theme will be Global Governance and Democracy. Like a colloquium, I hope to involve students, visiting faculty, and fellows in the seminar. But the external "global" implications are even more exciting. The idea is to join with three Global Partners-academic institutions located in strategic regions in the world-initially I am thinking of Santiago, Chile for South America; Capetown or Johannesburg for Africa; and Macao, China for Asia. I envision two principal activities for each of our global partners. One activity would be a summer teaching program which would have at its core the new global legal disciplines-trade, international property, investment, etc.

NYU Law: Another summer school to add to the zillions already out there?

Weiler: No, because it would have some very unique features. Sure, one objective would be to provide legal proficiency in these "global" disciplines at the highest professional level. And sure, there are programs a plenty which aim to do just that. But, very often these courses not only teach proficiency but also, purposefully or inadvertently, indoctrinate their participants into a non-critical "global" and "free trade" mindset. In our commitment to Global Law and Justice we will craft our courses to provide, too, a critical outlook; to examine the dark side of the global moon as well as its bright side; to provide participants with the intellectual tools which would be empowering in both negotiation and applicative contexts. We would also look for a very special type of participant. We would want to have on the one hand, a group of mostly younger public officials-the people who, in their respective countries, both help set the policy and apply the legal disciplines. Alongside them we would hope to have young lawyers from the private sector with the profile that we would normally admit to our Public Interest Law program. In a way, we would be bringing together lawyers who would often find themselves on the opposite side of legal disputes. I think the interaction could be as informative as anything we would do in the formal part of the program. There would be one further distinction from your normal summer school. We are hoping to experiment with a component of distance learning-create our groups early in the year and have the summer program be the culmination of an educational program that began months before on the Internet.

NYU Law: You mentioned two principal activities for each global partner?

Weiler: Yes, that was the teaching part. I also envision holding each year one major scholarly conference or workshop on topics to be developed with our partners around the theme of Global Law and Justice. In content these conferences or workshops would have a strong regional and local flavor. The global is often regional. It could be affordable medicine, it could be trade in textiles, it could be problems related to investment regimes-there is no shortage of topics.

NYU Law: Dare I ask about cost?

Weiler: Good ideas always find funding. That has been my experience with everything I have done so far.

NYU Law: Anything a little less ambitious? Any "small" ideas?

Weiler: Plenty-start writing.

Item: How is it that at the Global Law School, our first year students are unable to take an elective in international or any other "global" subject? (If you asked members of the incoming class each year, they would probably expect this.)

Item: If we are serious about the global imperative in legal education, should we not lead the way and have some global component as a requirement for graduation? (If you ask most of the incoming class, they would probably expect this too.)

Item: Should we think of a foreign language offering as part of our program? (Yes, it is true that English is the global language, but…)

NYU Law: Professor Weiler, thank you.

Weiler: Mille grazie. n

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