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Recap: The Future of U.S.- China Educational Exchange, 12.16.20

Recap: The Future of U.S.- China Educational Exchange, 12.16.20

On December 16, China Institute hosted a panel of U.S. and Chinese educational leaders and innovators, many connected to East China Normal University (ECNU), to discuss the future of educational exchange between these two countries. Speakers asked the following pertinent questions knowing the answers will have an immediate, global impact: How will the pandemic—and heightened U.S.-China tensions—reshape the flow of international students and academicians between China and U.S.? Will educational exchanges decrease as globalization draws questions? What are the costs of diminishing exchanges, to innovation and progress in solving global challenges? Are there silver linings, as schools, educational institutions, educators and learners explore innovative ways to continue international education?


Xun Yuan (XY), Executive Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Education at East China Normal University

Denis Simon (DS), former Executive Vice Chancellor of Duke Kunshan University and current China advisor at Duke University

Shuangye Chen (SC), professor of the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction at East China Normal University

The audience also heard from a panel of professors from ECNU.

Selected Quotes from The Future of U.S.-China Educational Exchange:

XY: It is our honor to collaborate with China Institute on this educational program. We have set the goal to build a world class educational program, at the national level in China and the world. Since the pandemic, there are several steps and strategies they have put in place to address the future of the program.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many of our students went back home. So we started a program on educational pedagogy during the pandemic — which includes 34 sessions with timely content related to students and educators for them to study and read — and we got positive feedback from many different parties.

XY: The faculty of education has also published and is improving the dialogue through the journal that builds a platform to have an in-depth dialogue with the world on educational topics, especially during and after the pandemic, related to higher education.

Because of the pandemic, the global educational forum for schools all over the world, this year we were unable to have the forum but on November 22, with Boston College, we had a preparation conference for next year, especially focusing on challenges and opportunities faced by the education field.

…At ECNU, we are looking forward to face the challenges, have discussions, and do the research, so that we can together explore the future direction of education and educational exchange, to develop and deepen our understanding among each other, and with each other in the educational field, to form a shared view for the future.

SC: When we talk about educational exchange, we talk about moving students and student mobility. But we can leave aside the money consequence [of reduced educational exchange].

The [tacit] knowledge about culture and daily experiences, those are strategic, tacit knowledges about different systems and countries. In 2012, 78% of Chinese University Presidents have overseas degrees, most of these are doctoral. When they come back, they brought back technology and the tacit knowledge about the country. This could be strategically used to win the game or build better understanding of educational exchanges among different countries.

We are entering into a more polarizing time. Globalization is making us divided. Those in the first world, the only scarcity is time. They can move around. …Most international or exchange students are in the first world, though some are challenging. We still have a lot of students who live in the second world.

DS: [The U.S.-China] relationship does depend on reconstructing some the bridges damages in the last [several] years. We need to build more bridges. [COVID] really does test the solidness of the relationship and tests whether a joint relationship can really hold together in times of crisis.

In China there is a notion of sleeping in the same bed with two different dreams. There are aspects in joint [educational] ventures where partners move forward but don’t share the same exact goals. …Then there are curricular challenges; building a Western liberal arts education in China is also a big challenge. We really must give kudos to Chinese leaders for having the foresight of approving these joint-ventures (9 and soon to be 10), and they have allowed them fairly unencumbered to grow and prosper. …My sense is that the presence of these joint ventures will continue to have a positive impact.

Will the EU work to take in more Chinese students? I think this is a real possibility that Europe will be the beneficiary of tensions in the Sino-US relationship.

ECNU: For those going to the United States, they will still go to the US. But for those can go to Europe, UK or different countries. It is hard to imagine…the damage to the host country is already done. They are closing [exchange] programs.

Full Video of the Program