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The Queen’s-China connection

The Queen’s-China connection

The University’s already strong ties with China, Asia’s emerging economic superpower, are growing ever more extensive.
Zhang ZhiyaoDr. Zhiyao Zhang, director of the Shanghai-based
Queen’s China Liaison Office, is the University’s
“ambassador” in China.

Queen’s already strong ties to China promise to become even more extensive and important, says Dr. Zhiyao Zhang, director of Queen’s China Liaison Office (CLO), which is located on the ­campus of Fudan University in bustling Shanghai.

“Our reputation is growing among universities and government departments in China, as well as with students and parents,” affirms Zhang, who is the University’s “ambassador” in China.

Clearly, it was a good idea back in 2007 when Queen’s became the first Canadian university to open an office in China. It was intended to facilitate co-operation between the University and Chinese government partners and to strengthen teaching and research links with Fudan, a leading Chinese university that has been Queen’s strategic partner since 2000.

Collaborating with various Queen’s units, the CLO has become the hub of activities in Shanghai and the rest of China, supporting faculty visits, student exchanges, specialized study-abroad ­programs, alumni relations, recruiting efforts, and joint research projects. Queen’s today has partnerships with 11 universities in mainland China and Hong Kong, and agreements with various government ministries.

Exchange visits are key crossovers. In the 2009-10 academic year, about 36 Queen’s students will go to China from Arts and Science, Business, Law, and Applied Science, while 33 students from China will come to study at Queen’s.

At Fudan, Queen’s students can take semester-long courses given in English or Chinese in various disciplines. Queen’s offers Fudan students courses (in English) either in Kingston or at the Bader International Study Centre in England.

Many other Queen’s-China links also exist, including the School of Policy Studies’ “Spring Term in Shanghai,” short-term visiting lectureships and research visits, research collaborations (the Canada-China Women’s Law Project, for example) and a Global Development Studies (DEVS) semester in Shanghai.

In 2007, Ashley Hill, Artsci’08, worked with an HIV/AIDS organization during her DEVS semester. “One of the unique and truly wonderful aspects of this program is that each Queen’s student is partnered with a Fudan student, usually a third-year Sociology major. We learned the most from the informal and often very candid conversations with our Chinese partners and friends.”

Other Queen’s students also have had similar experiences at other Chinese universities Queen’s has ties with. Recalling his exchange visit to Peking University, Gareth Sudul, Com’09, says, “I learned more about China in those six months than I ever could in the classroom. I picked up some of the language, made many local friends, visited the Beijing headquarters of multinationals, joined clubs at the school, traveled and learned a great deal about Chinese culture.”

Other major links in the Queen’s-China chain are the School of Urban and Regional Planning’s (SURP) long-standing and extensive research and training projects, managed by its own China Projects Office. SURP students study for a semester at Fudan’s Institute of Biodiversity Science, and Fudan students come to SURP for a semester of research and course work. Since 1996, SURP has also coordinated training programs for government officials from China’s land use sector.

One especially exciting development, the multidisciplinary Queen’s-Fudan Network for Environment and Sustainability Research, was launched this fall with a high-profile conference in Fudan. “Our goal is to collaborate for mutual dialogue and learning,” says Dr. John Meligrana, a SURP professor and a driving force behind the network.

“With our partners, we hope to help move China along a more sustainable path. We’ll also provide more learning opportunities for Queen’s students and gain a better understanding of the challenges facing our planet when it comes to sustainable development.”

The CLO’s Zhang is eagerly looking forward to a fall opening for the new Canadian Studies Centre at Fudan. Says Zhang, “It will create a platform for Canadian Studies there and will launch a series of lectures to be given when Queen’s professors visit.”

Beyond academic links, Queen’s office for commercializing new technology, PARTEQ Innovations, has been making its own inroads. (See also “Need meets opportunity,” Issue 3, 2008.) Last March, PARTEQ signed a unique collaborative agreement with China’s Innofund – a non-profit Ministry of Science and Technology fund to support innovation at small, tech-based Chinese firms. The partners’ common goal is to bring discoveries to market.

As for the future, “We see tremendous opportunities for more academic and research collaborations,” says Associate Vice-Principal John Dixon (Academic & International). “Queen’s students will benefit greatly from learning about China as an economic powerhouse and important trading partner for Canada.” Zhang concurs.

“Expect to see more presence, more research collaborations, more grad and undergrad links throughout China, and more strategic links that benefit Queen’s.”

For more information on Queen’s-China ties, visit these web sites


[Queen's Alumni Review 2009-4 cover]