Dal goes to China

Dal delegation visits Chinese universities

- November 7, 2014

Nanjing University President Chen Jun and Dalhousie President Richard Florizone sign an MOU between their two schools in October of this year. (Bruce Bottomley photo)
Nanjing University President Chen Jun and Dalhousie President Richard Florizone sign an MOU between their two schools in October of this year. (Bruce Bottomley photo)

Forty-two years ago, Richard Nixon made his famous visit to China — the first by an American president to the People’s Republic, and seen as a key step in normalizing relations between the two countries.

The visit of Dal’s Richard — Florizone — to China this month is also his first. It’s not quite as historically momentous, though: in fact, collaborations between Dalhousie and its Chinese counterparts are decidedly the norm in recent years.

Currently, Dal has more than 30 active international agreements in place across a variety of disciplines with Chinese institutions, with many of them ranked among the top universities in the country. Several of these agreements have involved capacity-building projects funded by the Canadian government and stretch back years, even decades.

When it comes to Dal’s student population, the impact of these agreements becomes even clearer. Through 2+2 programs (where students receive dual degrees) and a focus on the country as a recruitment market, there are now 1,078 Chinese students studying at Dal (as of March 2014), or around 6 per cent of Dal’s total enrolment. The bulk of them are studying Engineering, Commerce and Science, with large groups also in Agriculture, Computer Science and Management.

“From our student population, to our faculty members’ research, China and its universities are increasingly becoming key partners in the Dalhousie story,” says Dr. Florizone. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to visit with some of our partners and hear first-hand about how we can continue to work together to advance our shared mission as institutions of higher learning.”

Established and emerging relationships

Most of Dal’s agreements with Chinese universities — in research, student exchange and other areas — are a result of various delegations to the country over the years. A number of agreements were sparked on a 2006 trip led by then-Vice-President Academic Sam Scully, while others were enhanced and built upon during last year’s visit by a delegation led by then-Associate Vice-President Academic Keith Taylor and Executive Director of International Relations Alain Boutet. (This last trip was highlighted in detail on Dal News.)

In addition to Dr. Florizone and Dr. Boutet, this year’s delegation includes Provost and Vice-President Academic Carolyn Watters and Dean of Science Chris Moore.

The delegation will visit several universities where Dal has established and emerging partnerships. These include the Ocean University of China, Shandong University of Finance & Economics, Nanjing University, Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, and the University of Hong Kong. 

A particular highlight of the trip will be Dr. Florizone’s participation in the prestigious Beijing Academic Forum this weekend (November 7-9). Dr. Florizone will be presenting highlights from a paper he co-authored with John Cullen, professor emeritus in the Department of Oceanography, titled “The Role of a University in Developing Marine Science, Technology and Management in Support of Prosperous and Sustainable Human-Ocean Relations.”

The delegation will also attend a reception and dinner for Dal alumni in Hong Kong.

A legacy of collaboration

As noted, Dal’s relationships with Chinese universities are vast. A few more examples:

  • Over the past 15 years, Dal has participated in a range of environmental management and water resource management projects involving Xiamen University, Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, Peking University, Tsinghua University and the State Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Dal helped to establish a Masters of Business Administration program in the 1990s at Xiamen University in the 1990s.
  • Dalhousie researchers are partnering with colleagues at China University of Mining & Technology on a project funded by International Science & Technology Partnerships (ISTP) Canada. The project is aimed at developing a novel linear generator system, which has potential to harness tidal and wave energy.
  • A number of Dalhousie faculty regularly work on an individual basis with Chinese university colleagues and government officials in support of particular areas of investigation and intervention. One example: the Ocean University of China (OUC), which has several existing research collaborations with Dal oceanographers and law scholars, has sent students here for graduate studies, and is keen to become involved in the Dal-hosted Ocean Tracking Network.
  • Dal frequently hosts visiting scholars from China, with particularly active programs in the School of Business Administration, the Department of Economics, and Community Health & Epidemiology.

And, of course, just as Dal occasionally makes the trek to China, Chinese university delegations come to Dalhousie as well to help further these relationships.

Xu Zhion, past president of Peking University, was one of nine international university leaders to be present for Dr. Florizone’s installation ceremony last fall. In March, a delegation from Nanjing University came to Dal to begin working on terms of a new Memorandum of Understanding. That agreement was signed on October 17 during a visit by President Chen Jun to campus.

Later this month, President Lan Siren of Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University (FAFU) will be at Dal’s Agricultural Campus. The visit follows in the wake of the Chinese government approving a 3+1 program between FAFU and Dalhousie. (Learn more.)

Look for more information on the delegation and its work in the coming weeks on Dal News.


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