MHC Explores Study Abroad Options in China

A delegation of five faculty members visited five universities in China in late May and early June to scope out potential sites for study abroad opportunities for Mount Holyoke women starting as early as the spring of 2011. The two models under consideration include a straight exchange where Chinese students will come to South Hadley for a semester while Mount Holyoke students enroll in the partnering university. The other model would be a program with a resident director for Mount Holyoke students.

China Trip 2009
MHC delegation with faculty members from Shanghai University of Finance and

Professor of economics Eva Paus, who directs the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, said the astronomical growth rates the country has seen in the last three decades mean that anyone interested in global development or international business must engage with China. “You can’t study these topics anymore without coming across China,” she said. Possible new programs will concentrate on global business and international relations, with a focus on China.

Besides Paus, the delegation included Calvin Chen and Kavita Khory of the Department of Politics, Ying Wang of the Asian Studies Program, and Jon Western, a Five College Associate Professor of International Relations.

Western, who participated in last year’s McCulloch Center conference, The Rise of China, and who, with Paus, was one of three editors of a new book called Global Giant: Is China Changing the Rules of the Game? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), said the trip was an important first step. “We wanted to make it a fairly large delegation to impress upon people that we are serious about moving forward,” he said. Going with a cross section of faculty was also important to gauge the strengths of potential partners from a variety of academic perspectives, according to Western.

One stop was the Beijing Language and Culture University, where Mount Holyoke already sends students for a summer program. The other universities under consideration include the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and Wuhan University in Wuhan, a central Chinese city of nine million people. The last two institutions they visited were Fudan University in the port city of Shanghai and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

During the trip from May 26 to June 6, Western could see the enormous challenges China faces as it comes to terms with unprecedented economic growth. “The two issues that were really profound, and which we heard a lot of folks talk about, were the increasing disparities in wealth and environmental pollution,” he said.

In Shanghai Western was struck by how opulence and grinding poverty exist side by side. Paus said great wealth was highly visible on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, one of the world’s most famous shopping districts.

The delegation also participated in events in Beijing and Shanghai organized by the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association and the Office of Admission. Each attracted about 50 people including former students as well as alumnae, current students, and students entering in the fall. “The Alumnae Association is really going global, given how global our alumnae body is,” Paus said. “Creating a global network has become part of their strategic plan.”

The possible new programs in China will join other Mount Holyoke study abroad programs in Monteverde (Costa Rica), Montpelier (France), and Dakar (Senegal). The recent conference and resulting book on China helped spur this effort. “They really did contribute to this,” Western said. “The conference was able to focus a lot of the college’s attention on China so I think it clearly created a focal point.”

Related Links:

Study Abroad

McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives