Date: 26May 2016


Professor Carole J. Petersen, William S. Richardson School of Law, Director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Respondent: Professor Joseph Chan, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Hong Kong

Recent debates on university governance have a tendency to pit the interests of academics and students against the interests of the Hong Kong government. In fact, there are more shared interests than commonly recognized. All parties have an interest in promoting academic excellence and the international reputation of Hong Kong’s universities, which require university autonomy and academic freedom. Yet they also recognize that universities must be accountable for the substantial investment of public funds and should remain politically neutral as institutions. Unfortunately, the current system of university governance creates unnecessary conflicts, only some of which were acknowledged in the 2015 “Newby Report” for the University Grants Committee. Professor Petersen will draw on comparative research and recent events in Hong Kong, and then propose specific reforms to reduce conflict and promote academic excellence. She also will discuss the role of academics in politics, suggesting policies that could be developed to protect academic freedom while also protecting the university’s legitimate need to remain politically neutral and account for academics’ time.

Carole Petersen is a Professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law and Director of the Matsunaga institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she teaches international Law, Human Rights, and Gender and the Law.

She taught law in Hong Kong from 1989-2006 and co-authored (with Jan Currie and Ka Ho Mok) the book: Academic Freedom in Hong Kong (2006).