Although I have been here as a postdoctoral researcher, I have so far had chance to sit in a number of classes on a multitude of issues ranging from South China Sea to Globalization and Comparative Political Systems. As a general observation, I found these classes to be quite original, offering new horizons and challenging questions to students. In fact, at the School of Political Science and Public Administration of Shandong University, the courses introduced are of great variety, cohesiveness and depth. To be sure, these courses and their lecturers all deserve to be mentioned in great detail and appreciation, but, for the purpose of this brief note, I would like to talk about Professor Liu Changming (刘昌明) in whose classes I have had numerous chances to sit.
First of all, Dr. Liu is an all-around scholar with comprehensive grasp of both political theory and practice. I like to call this outstanding feat “praxeological teaching;” meaning that when you sit in his classes, you are sure to be provided both the theory of politics and its practical manifestations on the ground. This is a unique opportunity for students, according to my own experience as a student that have taken many classes in different countries, is an exception rather than a rule. Oftentimes, a class of political science will either be heavily theory-oriented or entirely immersed in case studies without much theoretical input. In Dr. Liu’s classes, students are blessed to have a chance to enjoy, literally, a learning feast.
Obviously, the range and scale of Dr. Liu’s classes happens to be broad, covering multiple issue areas related to the Asia-Pacific and comparative regional development. Therefore, unlike many other Asian Studies programs, here, you are offered a long list of courses, some of which taught by Dr. Liu, that you are unlikely not to like. A student will almost be pampered by the range of class choices, which, of course, a direct reflection of the professional capability of the professors that offer those courses.
Inside the classroom with Dr. Liu, get ready for an amazing ride. You will for sure lose the track of time and space, and be entirely immersed in the world of knowledge provided through a lively and interactive teaching style. We students often cherish a professor that, during a lecture, takes us on an amazing ride of learning new theories, discovering novel ideas and acquiring new exciting questions. We also know that oftentimes a good question is more valuable than a good answer; because, as future scholars, most of us yearn to find that mind-opening provocative research question that rings a bell in our brain and leads us to our own quest for innovative research. In Dr. Liu’s classes, you are rest assured to be carried over by the constant flow of exciting ideas, timeless theories and many potential research questions.
Learning and creating new ideas is a serious task, but it does not have to be a boring or depressing experience. I find that Dr. Liu’s teaching style, both in and outside the classroom, ensures that students enjoy even when they are challenged to ask or answer tough questions. A healthy dose of humor always helps, and Dr. Liu will put a smiley on the face of even the sulkiest issue of global governance or political theory. Amazingly, Dr. Liu does this naturally, pulling you right into the essence of the subject matter with ease, and you find yourself interacting with the professor and rest of the classmates. Oftentimes, the discussion would have to be cut prematurely short because time would not be enough. Nonetheless, the joy of learning in Dr. Liu’s class stays in you as you leave the classroom and you carry it along until the next session.
I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity to sit in Dr. Liu’s class. When you do the same, you will see that you have had both a teacher and a mentor. Dr. Liu not only teaches concepts and theories, he inculcates the power of reasoning analytically and critically, as well. He always points out the importance of being empirical and abstaining from subjective opinionating. Through Dr. Liu’s teachings, you will gain greater critical thinking capabilities. It is quite likely that Dr. Liu’s impact will go beyond the papers and any further academic pursuit you may take. I feel that Dr. Liu, patiently and passionately, guides and educates so many students like me who are to be the agents of change for good in their societies and beyond.
Written by: Serafettin Yilmaz, postdoctoral researcher from School of Political Science and Public Administration
Edited by Song Yijun