Not many professors would start their 10 a.m. class with an Eminem song blaring over the sound system as their half-awake students stumble into the room. Then again, not many professors are like Catherine Lu, who currently teaches Western Political Thought on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Adams auditorium
The political science department has more than twice as many men as women professors. How does it feel to be a woman in a seemingly male-dominated field?
It honestly hasn’t made much of a difference to me personally. I’m encouraged by the fact that there have been more women among the new hires during the past three to five years.
If you weren’t a professor what would you be?
I’d probably be a low-income writer struggling to make a living.
If you were President of the United States what are some of the first things you would do?
I would make sure trade rules were fairer to developing countries, show international leadership in implementing measures against world poverty and inject the resources needed to combat AIDS/HIV in Africa. I would also close down secret prisons and Guantanamo Bay and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Those are all foreign policy. For domestic policy, I would set up a fairer tax system and implement social justice reform to make sure American workers make a living wage. … Oh, and I’d take a few flags down.
If you could meet any political philosopher who would it be and why?
Judith Shklar because I would have liked to meet my intellectual soulmate.
[Editor’s Note: Upon being received at Harvard’s Government Department for an interview for graduate studies and being asked why she wanted to go there, Professor Lu replied it was to study with Professor Shklar. The interviewer then told her that Professor Shklar had just passed away the month before, to which Professor Lu answered: “Then I don’t think I want to come here anymore”.]
If you could travel back in time, where and when would you go back to?
I have no desire to travel back in time, in the sense that I don’t believe there was a more idyllic time to live in. … Every time has its own promise and problems. However, if I were to go back in time just to experience something, the choice of when and where is definitely too difficult, as there are so many historical moments that would have been worth experiencing.
What is your favourite thing about McGill?
I think McGill is a place of growth. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen the institution grow with the energy of newcomers; I love meeting new and interesting people. What’s more, McGill is a tolerant place to work in.
What is your least favourite thing about McGill?
What is an issue you feel strongly about?
Soy sauce on rice. It’s a no-no, except if it’s on sushi.