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New partnerships in China

Program to bring sociology graduate students to UD

A delegation from the University of Delaware’s College of Arts and Sciences has visited four universities in China, signing partnership agreements to create a new exchange program for graduate students in sociology and criminal justice.

During the next two summers, professors from UD will teach graduate courses in China to selected undergraduate students, who will then come to UD after graduation to complete their master’s degree work in Delaware.

“Our graduate criminology program is very highly rated, and criminology is a relatively new area of academic study in China, so there was a great deal of interest in this type of program,” said CAS Dean George Watson, who with UD colleagues met with administrators, faculty and students at four universities during eight days in China.

“I think these universities recognize that we have very strong programs and that we’re a global university that can offer a lot of academic and cultural advantages to their students.”

Agreements were signed with Xiamen University’s School of Public Affairs, Beijing Normal University’s School of Sociology and the law schools of Beijing Normal University and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. In China, unlike the U.S., law schools generally offer undergraduate programs.

In addition to Watson, the UD representatives included Karen F. Parker, professor and interim chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, and Ivan Sun, professor of criminology who played a “critical” role in developing the program, Parker said.

Faculty members Aaron Kupchik and Aaron Fichtelberg also were part of the UD delegation. They met with faculty and students in China and gave talks about their research on subjects such as school safety and international criminal justice.

Plans call for Profs. Fichtelberg and Ronet Bachman to teach in China in summer 2017, offering theory and research-methods courses. The classes will be held at Xiamen University but will also include students from other partnership institutions.

“Criminology and sociology are growing areas of interest in China, and many of their programs are fairly new,” Parker said. “In China, there’s also a growing interest in the study of law, behavior and the training of lawyers and judges.”

Other U.S. universities recruit graduate students in China, of course, but Parker said she thinks UD’s approach — an exchange program in which faculty members travel there to offer some courses before Chinese students come here — makes it stand out. The program may serve as a model for other Western universities in the future, she said.

Parker also expects the program to benefit UD’s domestic students.

“The students who come from China will bring their own, global perspective to classrooms here, and I’m sure that will be enlightening for all the students who get to interact with them,” she said. “We were in China for a relatively short time, but just talking with students and faculty there and hearing the kinds of questions they asked was very informative for us.”

Although the program will begin with about 10 Chinese students in the first two years, officials expect it to grow over time. And, Watson said, the students selected to take part will be talented and may decide to continue on to doctoral studies at UD.

English Language Institute agreement

Also during the recent visit to China, Watson signed an agreement between UD’s English Language Institute (ELI) and Sichuan International Studies University (SISU).

SISU, a top institution in southwestern China specializing in foreign language education and global studies, will send administrators, students and faculty members to the ELI for short-term programs in English language study and other areas.

In remarks at the signing ceremony, Watson called UD and SISU “a good fit.”

“Both universities emphasize the preparation of global citizens and highly qualified graduates through their internship opportunities, volunteerism, discovery learning and study abroad programs,” he said. “SISU and UD both welcome many international students to their short-term and long-term programs each year and have active partnerships with many universities around the world.”

UD delegates also met with representatives from SISU’s Department of Sociology. The department has decided to sign an agreement with CAS to become a partner of the exchange program in sociology.

In July, SISU officials visited UD to observe classes and meet with ELI representatives.

Emily Liu, ELI’s East Asian recruitment coordinator, also joined the UD delegation in China.

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