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Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008

Deanís delegation in China to shore up partnerships for IU School of Education

Five faculty, Chinese doctoral student join dean for 10-day trip

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 27, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A delegation led by IU School of Education Dean Gerardo M. Gonzalez is in China this week to explore new possibilities for collaboration with Chinese universities as well as provide some professional development to Chinese higher education leaders.

Gerardo Gonzalez

Gerardo Gonzalez

Print-Quality Photo

The delegation of five faculty members and a higher education policy studies student from China left on Saturday for a visit to six Chinese universities. Until Nov. 4, the delegation members will be exploring the most important issues in Chinese higher education policy and also participate in a day-long workshop on educational equity.

Gonzalez said the delegation hopes to build upon long-standing relationships with Chinese universities. "The purpose of the trip is to help solidify and build on those partnerships that have evolved over the last decade or more," Gonzalez said. "We want to think about ways to increase the collaboration going forward."

Among the goals of the trip is to hold another education conference in China, repeating a conference first co-sponsored by the School of Education in the 1990s under dean emeritus Don Warren, who is part of the delegation on this trip.

"We're discussing having a second conference, a kind of sequel to the first, on higher education policy reform," said Heidi Ross, director of Indiana University's East Asian Studies Center and professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the School of Education. "So at each of the stops we're making in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, we'll be talking with our colleagues about how we might structure that conference."

Aside from Gonzalez, Ross and Warren, the delegation includes Barry Bull, professor of philosophy of education and education policy studies; Rob Toutkoushian, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies; and Faridah Pawan, assistant professor in language education. Doctoral student in educational leadership and policy studies Yuhao Cen is returning to her home country of China and alma mater, Peking University, for this trip.

The delegation will start in Beijing, visiting Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beihang University and Beijing Normal University. In Shanghai, delegates will visit colleagues at East China Normal University, then go to Hangzhou's Zhejiang University. Peking University and Zhejiang University have signed partnership agreements with Indiana University. All of the institutions have ties to the IU School of Education, either through current students now enrolled at IU or graduates and visiting scholars.

"We now have alumni who are working there," Gonzalez said. "We have a number of faculty who have came here on exchanges and now have gone back there or are visiting scholars." Gonzalez pointed out that while there is much more scholarly exchange with China now, the conference the School of Education co-sponsored in the '90s was one of the first.

Ross said the Chinese institutions are seeking equal partnerships with U.S. institutions as policy makers seek to manage the massive growth of higher education enrollment. According to China's Ministry of Education, the total number of university students increased from 3.8 million in 1998 to more than 19 million in 2007.

"Higher education infrastructure and challenges have grown up around this tremendous expansion," Ross said. It is one of the reasons Chinese higher education leaders asked the IU faculty to speak with them about educational equity on this trip. "They want to understand what other countries are doing and why, and think about whether our challenges and solutions help them think about their own questions and answers. Likewise, we have a great deal to learn from our Chinese counterparts."

Media Outlets: the following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Web site at http://www.education.indiana.edu. Look for this news release under "News" on the home page. The sound bites below will have a clickable link to hear and to save the files.

Gonzalez speaks about the reason for the trip to China:

"The purpose of the trip is to help solidify and build on those partnerships that have evolved over the last decade or more and to think about ways that we can build on those relationships to increase the collaboration going forward."

The first moves toward establishing School of Education ties to the country began some time ago, Gonzalez says:

"It's not generally known that before China was a . . . destination for many, many scholars, many educational collaborations, the School of Education had co-sponsored a conference in that part of the world that led to many of the relationships that we now have. And as a result of that early collaboration and the conference, the programs that we now have have evolved. We now have alumni who are working there. We have a number of faculty who have came here on exchanges and now have gone back there or are visiting scholars."

Ross talks about how this trip will build upon the previous experience with China:

"In the '90s, IU School of Education jointly ran a conference with colleagues at Beihang University in Beijing. And we're discussing having a second conference, a kind of sequel to that on higher education policy reform. So at each of the stops we're taking in Shanghai and Hangzhou, we'll be taking with each of the colleagues about how we might structure that conference, when the timing would be and what specialties we would like represented there."

Chinese scholars already have an established presence with the IU School of Education, Ross says:

"We now have numerous Chinese students in our policy studies program now. They're all from quite prestigious institutions in China, extraordinary students. And I think that is a kind of example of the sorts of partnerships we already have with China. So going there doesn't mean we haven't done it. We're really trying to formalize and consolidate all of the exchange that we already have with these major Chinese universities, both in terms of visiting scholars back and forth and also in terms of graduate students."