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Expanding Opportunities in China

Posted: December 3, 2010
In October, a Buffalo State delegation visited China to explore opportunities for new academic collaborations between Buffalo State and Chinese universities.

Benjamin Christy, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities; Mark Severson, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences; Kevin Mulcahy, interim dean of the School of the Professions; John Siskar, interim associate vice president for teacher education; and Ted Turkle, director of the Research Foundation, were accompanied by faculty members Lin Xia Jiang, professor of fine arts; Tao Tang, associate professor of geography and planning; and Zhang Jie, professor of sociology and director of the Center for China Studies.

The first stop was Shanghai, where Buffalo State representatives met with officials from Jiao Tong University’s Comprehensive College of Humanities to explore the possibilities of faculty and student exchanges. Later that day, members of the group visited East China University of Science and Technology, where they enjoyed China's culture and cuisine. “Sometimes the most productive conversations came during dessert,” said Severson.

The next stop was Beijing, where Christy visited the Beijing Film Academy (BFA). The academy had asked him earlier about opportunities to initiate an articulation agreement enabling their students to earn dual degrees at BFA and in Buffalo State’s television and film arts and acting programs. “Beijing Film Academy is the premier film school in China,” said Christy, “with 3,000 students, 34 degree programs, and another campus under construction in Tsingtao.” Ninety percent of China’s television and film professionals attend the academy. “With such a high percentage attending one school,” said Christy, “they want their students to study internationally to broaden their horizons and learn film making from different perspectives.”

Also in Beijing, Buffalo State officials visited Capital Normal University and discussed a new Memo of Understanding and the possibility of joint degree programs. The two universities have enjoyed a productive 10-year agreement, and many research projects and visiting scholar programs have been completed. Administrators and faculty met with different academic departments. Tang Tao, whose areas of research include geographic information systems, has already done extensive research in Beijing with scholars from Capital Normal. Christy has performed and presented clarinet workshops.
Zhang Jie, who has conducted groundbreaking research into suicide in China, met with longtime colleagues. A number of visiting scholars from higher education institutions in China are presently studying at Buffalo State.

Mulcahy discussed faculty and student exchanges with Capital Normal’s School of Resources Environment and Tourism and the College of Information Engineering. “The talks went well,” said Mulcahy. “We discussed faculty exchanges, and they were interested in coming to visit Buffalo State.”

Severson met with the director of the international office at Beijing Technology and Business University. “He was interested in developing joint degree programs with us,” Severson said. “On the graduate level, they were interested in our innovative master’s program in applied economics, because its practical focus is a very good fit for their business students.”

After the group left China, Turkle, Mulcahy, and Severson went on to Bangkok, where they met with officials from Mahidol University and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) to discuss joint degree programs. “I’m optimistic about such programs at AIT, because it’s a regional institution that teaches its classes in English,” said Severson. “However, establishing joint degree programs is a very complex process.” Christy agreed, citing Buffalo State’s obligations and responsibilities to its accrediting bodies and to SUNY. However, he, too, is optimistic, especially regarding the joint programs with the Beijing Film Academy.

The trip strengthened existing programs and developed a foundation for new collaborations. President Aaron Podolefsky is expected to visit the universities himself during the spring semester.
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