Western delegation makes inroads in China with new university partnership

Western expanded its global exchange and research opportunities for students and faculty during a delegation visit to Hangzhou Normal University (HZNU) and Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) in China, Oct. 8-15.

The delegation led by Provost Brent Carbajal included Vicki Hamblin, executive director of the Institute for Global Engagement; Steve Hollenhorst, dean of Huxley College of the Environment; Janet Xing, professor of Chinese; and Baozhen Luo, associate professor of Sociology.

Western finalized a student exchange agreement with HZNU and discussed options for faculty exchanges as well as the potential for co-taught summer programs at each institution. Western does not have a formal agreement with JUFE yet, but they are interested in faculty exchanges, Hamblin said.                        

“The goal of the trip was to engage Western faculty and administration in defining the University’s global commitments by working directly with our institutional partners abroad,” Hamblin said.

Having different types of agreements with universities gives students opportunities to further their learning and supports faculty research, exchange and professional development opportunities, Carbajal said.

“I think the habits of mind that we try to foster with a liberal arts education are very much enhanced by experience outside of our cultural and political context,” Carbajal said. “To not include access to a globalized world is to do a disservice to the undergraduate education we are providing.”

HZNU is recognized for the Alibaba School of Business and its distinction as one of the 50 most innovate universities in China. Its School of Sciences has more than 10 laboratories focused on studies ranging from genome sequencing to urban wetland restoration. JUFE is among the top universities of its kind in China, focusing on Business Administration, International Trade and Economics, Public Finance and Administration, and Tourism and Urban Management.

There are “wow” moments when a connection with a university can be found, Hamblin said. HZNU, for example, has an incubator lab that allows students to be involved in startup businesses, which could be a connection to Western’s entrepreneurship program. Hamblin said it would be exciting for students and faculty who are interested in that kind of innovation to go and experience opportunities like the incubator lab at HZNU.

Luo said the delegation trip to HZNU and JUFE was incredibly successful and continued to add to Western’s internationalization initiatives.

 “It further elevated our ties to these two prestigious Chinese universities from an individual-faculty level and program level to an institutional level, which will not only ensure the sustainability of two existing global learning programs in China but also open windows for new exciting exchange/collaboration programs,” Luo said.

In the last five years, Western’s approach to global education has been evolving to include partnerships with student exchanges and study abroad opportunities as well as faculty exchanges, faculty research projects and more.

On Friday, Oct. 28, Western will host President Edward Chow and a delegation from National Chengchi University in Taiwan to renew a student exchange agreement. The partnership has been successful, with student exchanges to study language and economics at each university on an annual basis, according to Hamblin. There will be a ceremonial signing of the agreement with President Sabah Randhawa before a tour of Western and luncheon.