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Beginning in the Spring 2006 semester, students will have the opportunity to study at one of China’s premier universities-Tsinghua University, in Beijing-at Syracuse University’s new Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA) center. SU’s Beijing Center was announced Aug. 27 at a signing ceremony in Syracuse, bringing to six the number of overseas centers operated by DIPA.
“I believe that in the long run this will have been one of the most significant things SU has done for its students and faculty. China is changing the world,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund. “Everyone needs to understand their culture and learn to understand how to collaborate with their great talents. It’s been a dream of mine to see this happen.”
Established in 1911, Tsinghua is referred to by many as the “M.I.T. of China.” The program will be housed in Tsinghua’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences; it is among the first partnerships between a major U.S. university and major Chinese university to accommodate students across all language levels. U.S. undergraduate and graduate students will spend a semester or full academic year in Beijing, studying the complexities of contemporary China across disciplines-including history and geography, public policy and politics, communications, and traditional and modern arts. The agreement also calls for Tsinghua and SU to work together to find new opportunities for partnership and academic collaboration, and for SU to establish a scholarship for visiting scholars from Tsinghua.
“At Syracuse University, learning is not confined by traditional boundaries. This partnership will generate tremendous opportunities for collaboration-on a number of levels-for all concerned,” says Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Both SU and Tsinghua have incredible strengths and I am looking forward to the shared success this partnership is sure to bring.”
The ceremony was attended by a delegation from Tsinghua: Vice President Xie Weihe; Party Chairman Wang Sunyu of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and School of Public Policy and Management Dean Xue Lan. Representing SU were Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund; Vice President for Enrollment Management David C. Smith; DIPA Excecutive Director Nirelle Galson; Center Director Caroline Tong, who, with Galson, has played an instrumental role in the center’s creation; and a large group of SU deans and senior administrators.
Tong currently oversees China programs for the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ Executive Education Division, and will continue to work as a liaison between Maxwell and its Chinese partners in addition to her duties as center director. Born in China, she taught in China’s Northwestern University and was a journalist for the Xinhua News Agency before coming to the United States. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and an MA and Ph.D. in political science from the Maxwell School. Since the early 1990s, she has been working on behalf of the Maxwell School with Chinese institutions to develop public administration programs, training and exchanges for senior Chinese government officials. She has also had extensive experience working with governments in other Asian countries, including Korea, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
DIPA’s Beijing program will consist of classes, field studies, internships and research projects for students from both SU and other universities across the United States. Unlike most U.S. programs at Chinese universities, SU will offer courses taught in English as well as foreign-language courses, thereby attracting students who are not language majors but have a keen interest in learning about China as an emerging global power. Learning opportunities will have a strong East Asian focus, and will familiarize students with Chinese society and culture to better understand contemporary issues.
“It is an exciting initiative for Syracuse University, one of the many new efforts to connect the University more internationally,” says Tong. “I hope American students will take the advantage of such opportunities to have a richer learning experience and better prepare themselves for a globalized world.”
All program students will be provided with the opportunity to study the Mandarin language at appropriate levels during the program. Students will be housed in Tsinghua student housing, and courses will be taught in Tsinghua classrooms by local faculty. The curriculum will include 16-19 credit hours per semester, including classes such as U.S./China Relations; Comparative Public Policy, including environmental issues; and Intercultural and International Communications. The language component will include a four-week pre-semester intensive Chinese course, plus language courses during the semester. Students may enroll in additional courses offered for Tsinghua students in English, and SU students with Chinese language proficiency will have access to Tsinghua courses taught in Chinese. These students will need to extend their semester stay beyond the DIPA program calendar to complete coursework.
The new center benefits from SU’s existing partnership with Tsinghua, which is one of the top universities in China. Tsinghua’s Public Policy School and Maxwell Executive Education have worked together since 1998, allowing for discussion and expansion to the current collaboration.
“Our proposal to Tsinghua University for this unusual program was enthusiastically received by them, and we are delighted by the resulting collaboration between our institutions,” says Nirelle Galson, DIPA executive director. “This opportunity will meet the need to challenge our students and faculty beyond the traditional boundaries of study abroad, and it will allow them to be immersed in a fascinating culture with a rich tradition in the arts, warm people, a multitude of ethnic minorities and emerging environmental policies and protocols.”