Faculty Plant Research Seeds in Shanghai

Next spring, the first crop of Mount Holyoke students will take advantage of the new semester abroad program at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE)—but MHC faculty are already benefitting from this blossoming relationship.

Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives Eva Paus (pictured right) recently led an MHC delegation to China for the first joint faculty conference between Mount Holyoke and SUFE. The daylong event focused on various issues related to “China in the World,” from economic concerns such as China’s impact on development in Latin America, to social science aspects including the large number of Chinese migrating to Italy.

“The conference facilitated understanding among faculty members on some of today’s most pressing political and economic tensions,” Paus said. “The discussions we had with our SUFE counterparts will enrich our teaching of China here. This isn’t just study abroad for students, but study abroad for faculty as well.”

The conference was the latest component of a developing collaboration between MHC and SUFE that is funded by a $200,000 Freeman Foundation grant Paus and Asian studies professor Ying Wang received to advance Mount Holyoke education about and in East Asia. As a result, the College has developed a study abroad program with the Alliance for Global Education that focuses on economic transformation and business challenges in China. The program, which is being hosted by SUFE, aims to immerse participants in Chinese culture. It includes the rare opportunity for Mount Holyoke students to not only take a class with Chinese students through the program’s core course, China in the World, but to live with Chinese roommates.

“The existence and rise of China is changing the world in economic terms, in political terms, in cultural terms, and our students need to understand the dynamics within the country,” Paus said. “They need to understand what the problems, challenges, and promises are within this next great power, and what the relationships are and could be in the future between China and the United States. It’s absolutely critical.”

That critical global relationship is also fueling the faculty partnership between MHC and SUFE. Paus was joined at the recent “China in the World” conference by fellow MHC professors Anthony W. Lee, Vincent Ferraro, Kavita Khory, Melanie Guldi, Jon Western, Ying Wang, Calvin Chen, and dean of international studies Joanne Picard. 

“One benefit of the conference is that we have a better idea of who our potential research partners are on the other side, and so there are various projects germinating,” Paus said.

Those projects should be in bloom by next May, when Paus and her colleagues will host the second joint conference with SUFE faculty here at Mount Holyoke.