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A Fascinating Week with Prof. Jean d'Aspremont

Release Time: 2017-07-28      Browse:740

The Importance of Being Critical: A Fascinating Week with Professor Jean d’Aspremont

Looking like a charming character from Pride and Prejudice, a polished gentleman is approaching. This was my first impression of Professor Jean d’Aspremont the moment I caught sight of him at the airport in a Monday morning of July. I got nervous because of my inexperience, but the tension was melted away as soon as he greeted me with his sincere smile and tender tone.


If you judge Professor d’Aspremont by his appearance according to my aforementioned description, you might think of him as an old-school scholar holding on to well-established international law theories. Nevertheless, appearances can be deceptive. Professor d’Aspremont turned out to be a robust advocate of critical thinking, especially when it comes to generally recognised judgment in academia. He not only enshrined this spirit on his own, but also encouraged it among people.

What impressed me deeply was the discussion concerning the nature of interpretation norms under Article 31 in Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties during a lecture. Before enunciating his viewpoint, he invited the class to express their different opinions towards the issue, which led to a seemingly indubitable conclusion. Subsequently, ruffling his fluffy fringe, he began his convincing contention, totally against the absolute in the eyes of the world though. A fierce argument ensued from his remark, suggesting that the participants started to grasp the essence of critical thinking.

There were surely other outstanding qualities of Professor d’Aspremont that I had noticed during his seven-day trip in Xiamen. He was extremely efficient at reading and writing, had incredible knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject matter, maintained open communication and developed strong rapport with students. All these excellences made every moment we spent together so pleasant and enlightening that I would like to savour those memories with him for more than just a transient while. However, if I am asked to decide one most important takeaway from Professor d’Aspremont, I will definitely say, try to contemplate independently.

                         Report by Weihang Zhou, Photo by Zhong-Ding-Wen Studio