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China visit creates potential for new Indiana State student, faculty opportunities

July 14, 2015

Sometimes it isn't just what you know, but also who you know.

That makes the connections with East China Normal University and Beijing Normal University that Indiana State University President Dan Bradley established during a recent trip to China even more important, as the university seeks to increase research and study abroad opportunities for students and faculty and diversify its population of international students.

Bradley signed the agreements to explore possibilities for mutual cooperation during a trip where he served as an honorary chairperson for the Association for Educational Communications and Technology-Learning and Knowledge Analytics in Open Education Summer International Research Symposium that was co-hosted by Indiana State and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

Feng-Qi Lai, professor of educational technology in the Bayh College of Education who was made the formal proposal to host the symposium in her native China, served as planner, general chairwoman and speaker for the event. She was also responible for connecting Indiana State with East China Normal University and opening up the opportunity to her students, who presented research through a panel and roundtable discussions both virtually and on-site in China.

The agreements that were signed lay out possible opportunities to be explored with both schools during the next five years, including:

• Exchange of research, teaching personnel, academic publications and other material of common interest and students for short-term internship programs

• Sharing of curriculum and course syllabi

• Development of joint courses, degrees and programs such as conferences, seminars, symposia or lectures as well as collaborative research projects and other exchange programs

"(The agreements) are intended to be and are very generic," Bradley said. "The goal is to add to them over time in ways that will increase our faculty, staff and student connectivity to China and Chinese universities."

Upon hearing that Bradley had accepted the invitation to China, John Conant, economics department chair, and Greg Goode, the university's government relations executive director, suggested using the trip to strengthen recruiting efforts and ties between Indiana State and Chinese institutions.

Conant, who spent 15 days in China including travel to universities in Liaoning to make presentations, reached out to Steve Chao, a former Indiana State staff member who now serves as director of the Council on International Educational Exchange office in Shanghai located in the East China Normal University campus, to help schedule meetings with possible Chinese partners.

The trip included a stop in Guangzhou, where they visited a high school and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has worked with other Indiana universities and Global Indiana - an organization started by Chris McGrew, Indiana State's director of the Center for Global Engagement, to create partnerships between Indiana's K-12 schools and China.

"We haven't worked with (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) too much in the past, but since there is an Indiana connection already, we talked about the Indiana State and they talked about schools that might be good matches for us," Conant said. "It's an important step to have the ministry connect us to a university in that province, in terms of recruiting degree-seeking students to Indiana State."

It's still early in the process and how beneficial the efforts will be depend upon the interest of Indiana State faculty.

"Whether it's a short-term visit or taking students for a faculty-led trip, the gains will be greater if there is an excitement among the faculty," Conant said. "The idea is to create an infrastructure and more partners in China, not only for faculty exchanges, but as another option for our students who want to study abroad."

Now in the "build infrastructure phase," Conant will work with others on campus to create a plan to recruit degree-seeking students from Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang areas.

"We have long-established relationships in northern China, but we have to be in more central parts to China and should take advantage of the Zhejiang-Indiana relationship as well because China is a place of growing influence and a strengthening position in the world economy, so it is not a place that we can ignore as a university," Conant said.

"It will be a long-term project to spread our work into more populous areas of China, but it will certainly help us in our efforts to diversify our international student population," he said. "It's important to get more international students to our campus to help our students learn about the world, but also to diversify the places that they come from."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or betsy.simon@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Indiana State University President Dan Bradley signed agreements to explore possibilities for mutual cooperation with East China Normal University and Beijing Normal University during an overseas trip in June.

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