Professor Kenneth L. Port

Professors from two hemispheres work to create international experience for students

The day is coming when a student who studies law at William Mitchell will also have the opportunity to study at a major university in China. Making progress on an exchange program was on Professor Ken Port’s agenda on his recent trip to Beijing, where he met with the dean and associate dean of the China University of Politics and Law. 

Comparative IP: Nontraditional Trademarks poster“They really want to differentiate their school and create an international experience for their students,” says Port.

Port’s stop in Beijing was part of a two-week trip to Japan and China to speak on intellectual property law and do research for a book he’s writing.

The relationship between William Mitchell and the China University of Politics and Law was formalized last year when the two schools established an official educational partnership with an eye on creating exchange opportunities for both students and faculty.

Mitchell students who study in China would come home with a huge advantage in the job market.

“Going over to a program in China, for even a limited period of time, would internationalize our students and give them great experience,” says Port. “You really stand out if you’ve had experience in China.

“You can go to a prospective employer and say, ‘I was working totally outside my comfort zone and I thrived.’ And the employer thinks, ‘If you thrived in Beijing, you’ll do just fine here.’ It’s an extremely important skill to be able to do well in that type of environment, where it’s a completely different culture and you don’t speak the language.”

Port says the China University of Politics and Law is overhauling nearly all its campus buildings as it positions itself for the future. Exchange programs could be for as long as a year or as short as a week or two.

“We have two really good friends in Professors Lin Lin and Xiang Gao,” he says, referring to the dean and associate dean he met with on his trip. “I’m really looking forward to developing that relationship.”

The next step in establishing a program is to work to define the significant educational advantages, an important step to approval and accreditation.

“We have to show that not only will students get a beneficial cultural experience, they’ll also learn a lot of law,” says Port. “Both Lin and Gao say all the curriculum at their school can be taught in English.

Once a program is in place, Port says students would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity to expand their educational horizons.

“The idea that ‘I don’t need to know more about China because I’m here in Minnesota’ is gone,” he says. “The world is going to find you and you’d better be ready. Why not be ahead of the game?”