Fudan partnership continues

Relationship between Queen’s and Chinese institution renewed during Principal Woolf’s visit

John Dixon spent his first day as Vice-Provost (International) on a trip to China with then-Principal William Leggett in 2000.
John Dixon spent his first day as Vice-Provost (International) on a trip to China with then-Principal William Leggett in 2000.
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The renewal of an agreement between Queen’s and Fudan University will mean continued student exchanges between Queen’s and China.

Vice-Provost (International) John Dixon said the program has the chance to influence policies in both China and Canada.

“We may not be totally happy with everything that China does, it’s positions on international relations or its records of human rights,” Dixon said, “but if we don’t talk to them we’ll never have an ability to influence them.

“We won’t be able to engage with them in trade or political discourse or economy discourse.”

Twelve years ago, Queen’s didn’t have any formal connections with universities in mainland China, but they approached Fudan at the suggestion of the Chinese ambassador to Canada.

Former Principal William Leggett travelled to Fudan and signed a memorandum of understanding, which was created between the universities over a six-month period beginning in April 2000.

Two weeks ago six Queen’s delegates traveled to China to further student exchange and research opportunities.

The renewal was agreed upon before the visit, and formally signed upon arrival in China.

The delegates, including Principal Daniel Woolf and Vice-Provost Dixon went to various Chinese universities.

Woolf was in China from Feb. 11 to 18, while Dixon remained there until Feb. 22 in order to make the additional visits.

Dixon said Woolf’s presence changes the nature of the trip.

“It actually has a big impact when the principal goes — you tend to be able to meet with the president of the other university,” Dixon said. “If those two decide they want to do something then everyone starts working to make it happen.”

Dixon said many Canadian universities had gone to China in the past seeking agreements but Queen’s wanted to focus on one school, which is why the partnership with Fudan took time to form.

Other universities, like York, also have partnerships with Fudan.

The global development department hosts an annual semester-long program for 15 Queen’s students to study at Fudan University. The program first began in 2004.

The agreement is typically signed for thre-year periods.

Student participants in the Fudan program pay tuition to Queen’s, part of which goes to Fudan University to pay for the courses.

Dixon said approximately $23,000 was spent on last year’s fall program.

“It’s a reasonable value for money relative to the cost of putting on courses here at Queen’s,” he said. “It’s not like we’re making money or losing money on the deal.”

Fudan program placement co-ordinator Paritosh Kumar said participants benefit by learning above and beyond course material.

“When you go to another country and another culture, you develop a much more holistic perspective,” he said.

“It has a destabilizing effect which opens you to new ways of learning and new ways of understanding things.”

Students on the program complete a work-study component at a local government department or NGO for a course credit.

The program also introduces participants to the Chinese learning model.

“They are Queen’s courses but are taught by Fudan professors. Students are getting exposed to their teaching methods,” he said. “We are not exporting our model to another country.”

In 2009, the Chinese government recognized the program as a model bilingual education program. Kumar said it demonstrates how the program is valued in China.

Sarah Cheng, ArtSci ’13, studied in Fudan last fall. While in Shanghai, she was paired with a Chinese student who worked alongside her at her work-study placement. “The pairs actually had to depend on each other. The Canadians, a lot of them couldn’t understand Mandarin, so they needed the Chinese students to help them out,” she said.

Despite having been to China numerous times, Cheng said the program allowed her to view the country differently than as a tourist.

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