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UMass wins $1.6 million grant for judicial-education work in China

BOSTON- The University of Massachusetts has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support judicial education in China. The grant will support a three-year project to provide in-depth presentation of Western approaches to evidence, discovery, court information and transparency, and alternative dispute resolution techniques.

UMass will take the lead on the Enhanced Judicial Education in China Project, joined by the Massachusetts Judges Conference (a private association of Massachusetts judges), and the American Bar Association. The project's principal investigator is Dr. Edmund Beard, Senior Advisor in the University of Massachusetts Office of the President and a former dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at UMass Boston. The grant was awarded to the McCormack Graduate School's Center for Democracy and Development. Beard has previously managed multiple U.S. State Department rule of law projects in China, Russia and throughout Eastern Europe.

The new program builds upon eight years of successful rule of law programming in China by the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Judges Conference. To date, mock trials conducted according to Massachusetts law have been held in eight Chinese cities, reaching more than 10,000 participating students, and a mock trial according to Chinese law was held in Boston.

USAID awarded the grant through its US-China University Collaboration on Rule of Law Program (USAID-RDMA/A-China-486-07-017-RFA), based in Bangkok.  The $1.6 million grant will "greatly expand our program's impact, scope and duration," Beard said. 

"This grant will allow us to engage with the Chinese judiciary system in a way that you can't do in a brief exchange visit," Beard said. "We are pleased that Tsinghua University, with whom UMass has already established a major partnership, will also be involved in this effort," Beard added.

"UMass has worked closely with academic partners in China, particularly in the realm of scientific and technological collaboration, but there are many other areas where we can and will work together," said University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson. "This project will allow us to build on the judicial education and reform efforts that we have undertaken in China and elsewhere around the world."

The judicial education program is focused on three areas:

  • Applying rules of evidence in court procedures and developing enhanced court management of pre-trial discovery
  • Improving capacity to implement mediation practices
  • Improving access to the courts for Chinese citizens

Along with Beard, the project will be administered by the project co-directors Adria Warren and the Honorable R. Peter Anderson. Warren, of Foley & Lardner LLP, is vice chair of the China Committee of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law. Anderson, a retired Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, has participated in rule of law programs in China, Mongolia and the Slovak Republic, and served as co-leader of two UMass/Massachusetts Judges Conference mock trial programs in China.

Beard, in addition to having served as the former dean of the McCormack Graduate School, has authored or co-authored three books and numerous articles on democratic political institutions and political behavior.


Robert P. Connolly, 617.287.7073
Libby DeVecchi, 617.287.7023



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