Chen Baifeng

Chen Baifeng: Adhere to "Two Legs" in Learning

On the morning of March 11,the conference of Professor Chen's thesis proposal with the title of Research on the Legal Guarantee of New-type Urbanization Construction was held in the conference room on the fourth floor of Building Wen Hong. Professor Qi Wenyuan, Vice-chair of University Council praised that Professor Chen was excellent in teaching and was the rising star in jurisprudential circle. After hearing that, Chen blushed. Born in 1980, he was still shy and young in front of the predecessors.

But in the thesis proposal, facing evaluation experts who are all the predecessors, Chen is eloquent.

The confidence comes from his adhering to two legs in research. In his teaching career, he read classic works with students and organized reading club to learn from each other. During the winter and summer vacations, he took students to practice social survey in villages, towns and grassroots communities. They surveyed in daytime and discussed at night sharing academic views in practical situations. Persistent reading and practical observation in grassroots endow him with in-depth thinking ability and independent critical ability.

Reading is the foundation

In the opening ceremony for the undergraduate students in 2015, Chen gave a speech with the title of Studying for a Prosperous and Rising China. He expressed that reading is the foundation of thinking and critical ability. In his opinion, a good reading ability can only be developed through great amounts of reading. Reading ability is the precondition of working and sufficient conditions of independent thinking.

Chen began to organize reading club lasting 3 to 4 hours once a month since 2007. Undergraduates and graduates can take part in the reading party without any limits. They mainly report what books they have read as well as their thoughts. Chen mainly listens to them and sometimes he will give his comments. The reading club takes the rule of natural election. So it maintains the size of 20 to 30 students.

He is strict with the graduates under his guidance, requiring them to read 5 professional books per month. And they should report their reading reviews to him once in a while. For students who don't finish their tasks, Chen will criticize them severely.

Students are convinced because Chen is stricter with himself about reading. When interviewed by Wuhan Evening News in 2014, he was acknowledged as a book giant because he would read at least 10 theory books per month. He said that only teachers with a good knowledge could guide students well.

Investigation is the Breakthrough Point

With the publication of his book Rural World, Research on Dongting-Jianghan Plain and his more than two months research in rural areas per year ,Chen Baifeng is called the expert in research of rural problems.

Chen does not argue for that. In his opinion, the cultivation of thinking and critical ability needs practical research. We should look on the stakes in social life and concentrate on benefits, prospect and future of most people. The thoughts and critics of people who are divorced from most people especially workers and peasants are shadow, superficial and clownish.

Rural investigation is the breakthrough point of study. Students should discern interpersonal relationships in research. He gave an example that students may be refused if they want to interview a judge at court, but farmers have a respect for intellectuals, which can make a easy and deep investigation.

With a good habit of frugality, Chen will get upset when seeing his wife buying a book which costs RMB100 for his son. But for social survey, Chen is very generous. During the summer vacation in 2016, he took about 20 students to research in villages, towns and grassroots communities, which spent him about RMB70000 to RMB80000.

During the survey, he will rectify the students' wrong thinking by saying It’s wrong, think it in another way, or even said that some of the students' thinking are nonsense. Liu Lei, who is studying for a PHD at Sichuan University, began to read books and do research under Chen's guidance since he was a junior student. Recalling his interaction with Professor Chen, he clarified that Chen was both his teacher and friend. Chen had influenced him a lot, even changed his life.

Family is the Strong Backing

As a teacher, Chen had influenced a batch of students and led them to the academic course. As a father, Chen will argue with other parents in WeChat group for different opinions. As a husband, Chen will often give thumbs-ups to his wife's moments. But his devotion to academic research makes him spend less time on family.

One afternoon, Chen should have met someone at the airport. But his wife had no time, so he had to send his son to the drawing class. That night, his son recorded how Chen sent him to drawing class by a picture with a note saying I had to go to drawing class, and father took me there by his car. Chen said that he was very moved when he saw his son's picture.

His wife is also a teacher, but she spends more time on family. When waiting for her son outside the interest-oriented class, she will use the time to practice yoga. When Chen is on a business trip, she will take her son to walk on the green road of Huazhong Agricultural University by her electric bicycle. When talking about the topic of parenting with bosom buddies, she will show a little complaints of Chen. But he and his wife who have little material needs live a happy life. His two sons love reading very much by family influence. In his new decorated house, there is no television but a book shelf in the living room. Reading without realizing that spring has been deep. Every thread of time is valuable. It's a harmonious scene that family members read their own books quietly.

Honor is the driving force

Good news came to Chen successively in 2016 and 2017. Firstly, his project Research on the Legal Guarantee of New-type Urbanization Construction was selected as a Major Project of the National Social Science Foundation of China. Then he was hired as Yangtze River scholar professor by the Ministry of Education and lately he was nominated as a candidate of the National Ten Outstanding Young Jurists.

Born in the 1980s,Chen is a humble scholar with great academic achievements.. About 80 essays written by him has been embodied by CSSCI journals including Chinese Journal of Law, Sociological Studies, CASS Journal of Political Science, Social Sciences in China.1 essay of him has been embodied by SSCI journal and about 20 essays of him has been reprinted by Chinese Social Science Digest, China University Academic Abstracts, and Journal Copies of Renmin University of China. His publications include Rural World, Research on Dongting-Jianghan Plain, Rural Justice and Rule of Law under the Supervision of Media. His essays have been cited about 400 times by CSSCI and 1600 times by CNKI.

Professor Xu Diyu, Dean of Law School confirmed Chen's academic achievements for many times. He said that maybe Chen didn’t publish the most essays, but he was the most quoted scholar among his peers..

Chen said that professional title and honor are the by-products of learning. The reality is that with more honor, he becomes busier and has less time to read books. He is anxious in such situation. He was hesitant when he participated in the selection of National Ten Outstanding Young Jurists. He thought he was not good enough.

With so many honors, he urgently wants to publish more articles in Social Sciences in China, Chinese Journal of Law and China Legal Science, the top3 journals of law, to prove himself. After finishing a good article, he will come up with a new idea. Everyone has the problem of indolence, but he enjoys the sense of satisfaction and pleasure after overcoming the indolence and writing a good article.

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    Guo Anming

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