UNK and China Exchange Faculty and Students For global understanding

Kyle Petersen
Student Staff Writer

Group Under Welcome SignFor 11 UNK faculty, their expertise in their educational disciplines was complemented with an unique understanding of China after completing the two -week 2006 Summer Faculty Development experience at Shandong University in Weihai, China.

At the end of summer school, the faculty members traveled to China to learn about the country, study its language, socialize with Chinese students and give lectures.

UNK faculty who participated in the program included: John Lillis, Calvin T. Ryan Library; Esmat (Shahla) Alavi-Behbanhani, interim chair, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems; Dr. Kenneth Messersmith, Teacher Education; Dr. Daren Snider, Department of Modern Languages; Samuel Lopez, Department of HPERLS; Dr. Joseph Springer, Department of Biology; Dr. Ken Larson, chair, Department of Industrial Technology; Dr. Teara Archwamety, Department of Counseling and School Psychology; Dr. Susan Jensen, Department of Management; Dr. Richard Miller, chair, Department of Psychology; and Dr. Jeanne Butler, director of Assessment, Academic Affairs.

“While all of our Chinese students had previously studied the English language, few of them had ever had the opportunity to speak to, or converse with, a native English speaker,” Dr. Larson said. “In addition to the teaching time, faculty had the opportunity to experience the real culture of China.”

Great WallJerald Fox, director of International Education, said that by sending UNK faculty to China, it not only makes them more knowledgeable about the nation, but it also increases the amount of material they can include about China in their courses.

After returning to Nebraska, the participants shared what they had learned about China with other UNK faculty.

According to Fox, the Summer Faculty Development program was developed to strengthen the 1+2+1  program, where UNK, along with six other U.S. universities, is partnering with more than 20 Chinese universities to attract students from China.

The title of the program, “1+2+1,” illustrates how those enrolled in the program spend their freshmen year at a Chinese college, two years at UNK and then finish their degree at the Chinese institution. Currently, there are six Chinese students enrolled in the UNK 1+2+1 program.

“The 1+2+1 program was developed to work with partner universities in China on a new educational scheme that would bring Chinese students to our campus, and permit our faculty and staff to work closely on curricular issues,” Fox said, adding that, “China is a very important partner to the U.S. and our students need to learn about China. One way to do that is to bring Chinese students on our campus.”

Fox said the goal of the 1+2+1 program and the faculty development program is to prepare UNK students for their future careers and their role as citizens in a globalized world.

“Our students need to know about the world, and it is the university’s duty to educate our students about the world into which they will enter as a UNK graduate. To be prepared, they need to know as much about the world outside of the U.S. as possible,” Fox said.

Just recently, Dr. Larson, along with Dr. Bruce Forster, dean of the College of Business and Technology, and Deb Murray, Outreach coordinator for the College of Business and Technology, visited Beijing to explore student internship opportunities for industrial technology and business students with firms in the city.

Companies the trio visited included Caterpillar, DaimlerChrysler, Fluor, R.R. Donnelly and PRItronics. The group also visited residence hall accommodations for students and the local hospital facilities that would be used for interns during their stay, if needed.

The overall internship tour was hosted by the Academic Connections program of the Our Chinese Daughters Foundation. Other American representatives were from industrial technology programs at Purdue University and Illinois State University.

The 1+2+1 standing committee selected participants for the 2006 program, and will soon be selecting faculty for the 2007 program. Faculty who missed the opportunity to travel to China as part of the 2006 Summer Faculty Development program can now apply for the 2007 Summer Faculty Development program.

Acceptance into the program is based on an applicant’s description of how the development program will assist in his or her professional and personal growth, and how what he or she learns in China will be incorporated into the curriculum.

Supported by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Life, the Office of International Education and the academic deans, the faculty development program to China will cost participants approximately $ 500. The total cost of the program is estimated at $2,100, but faculty members selected for the program only have to cover their visa and passport costs.

To apply for the program, faculty members are required to complete an application by Feb. 28. The 2007 program will take place July 28 to Aug. 11, and applications can be obtained from Fox at the Office of International Education, or via e-mail: foxj @UNK.edu.

Picture: TOP – John Lillis (left) Calvin T. Ryan Library; Dr. Ken Larson, Department of Industrial Technology; and Dixie Larson, EO/Affirmative Action, are shown visiting Shandong University in Weihai, China last summer as part of the Summer Faculty Development experience
ABOVE – UNK representatives visited the Great Wall.