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Lecture: “Taking Teaching Seriously: How to Teach Treaty Interpretation”

11 October 2019 @ 13:0015:00

The Eli Lauterpacht Lecture was established after Sir Eli’s death in 2017 to celebrate his life and work. This lecture will take place on the first Friday lecture of the Centre at the start of the Michaelmas Term in any academic year.

Lecture summary

For many years now Research & Scholarship have become the Alpha and Omega of academic life. Think of the Research Excellence Framework and the cascading effect it has had on the life of UK universities. Think of all other forms of rankings, institutional and individual, which try (miserably) to quantify quality of research, institutional and individual and the effect this has on the recruitment of staff and students and on the career paths of young scholars. Think of money — public funding, research grants and the like and the impact this, mammon, has on academic life. Though we continue to pay lip service to the importance of teaching, nobody can question that it ranks much lower in how we rank academic excellence.

The most coveted appointment as a Research Professor (with less or no teaching) sends an undeniable signal and one does not get a grant which enables a buyout from research in order to focus on teaching. Most professors and lecturers fulfill their teaching duties faithfully, but it is a duty and few, especially in the major Research Universities think of their vocation as educators. One does not naturally think of teaching  as worth spending the time, thought and creativity in the same manner we do on our “research”. Most dream of being Great Scholars, not great teachers and educators. And if they did, the system would not prize them for that. Distinguished Lectures are typically meant to be an occasion to engage with the latest and most profound in scholarship. A good part of my scholarly effort is dedicated to thinking about how knowledge, insight and creativity can be translated and brought into the classroom. By this I do not mean rhetoric or teaching techniques, or teaching how to do research but the most profound and effective way of engaging our students with the actual content of that which it is our responsibility to teach. A well designed and creative class should, but does not in today’s academia, count as much as a well designed and creative article. Taking this route will not, I hope, only honor the memory of Eli Lauterpacht in the most meaningful way I can think of, but perhaps also make a more lasting contribution than any ‘scholarly’ lecture.

Professor Weiler

Professor Weiler is University Professor at NYU Law School and Senior Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard. Until recently he served as President of the European University Institute, Florence.  Prof Weiler is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law (EJIL) and the International Journal of Constitutional Law (ICON).

More Information here


11 October 2019
13:00 – 15:00


Prof. Joseph Weiler (New York University)


Finlay Library, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law