Rollins China Center Promotes Cross-Cultural Learning

December 03, 2008

The China Center at Rollins College is engaged in teaching, research and outreach programs that have positively impacted Rollins’ internationalization efforts in China and beyond. Founded in 2003, the China Center was established by a group of faculty members with an interest in promoting Chinese culture. Today the China Center on campus is part of a select network of organizations that promote cross-cultural learning.

Through the China Center, professors have taken undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni to China. This past summer, Professor of International Business and Executive Director of Rollins China Center Ilan Alon took a group of Saturday MBA students to Hong Kong. Professor of Political Science Thomas Lairson accompanied a group of undergraduate students from Rollins to Shanghai for the fall 2008 semester.

“We live in a global society and operate in a global economy,” Alon said. “We cannot teach business – or any discipline – in isolation from the world in which we live. Asia is taking center stage in world globalization and China is a force to educate people about the changing landscape of the world. My teaching is influenced by both formal research and hands-on experience through consultation and visitation.”

The Rollins China Center Committee has designed an Asian studies major, which is awaiting approval. In 2008, the first cohort of students finished three years of Chinese language education taught by Modern Languages Lecturer Li Wei.

Through the China Center, Rollins is able to develop international relations with Asian universities and colleges. Rollins signed memos of understanding with East China University for Science and Technology and Shanghai University, which both open the door for future collaboration.

“We have the opportunity for faculty and staff to expand their horizons to create a more global environment on our campus,” Alon said. “Rollins provides a strong interdisciplinary liberal arts education that is pragmatic in nature but maintains the academic vigor for which liberal arts educations are known.”

Aside from the many available courses in the field, the China Center offers multiple opportunities for students and faculty to learn more about China. The China Center has hosted scholars from the University of Southern California, Copenhagen Business School, Renmin University, East China University for Science and Technology, Harvard University and Zhejian University. These scholars have addressed various student and faculty constituents during their visits. More than 70 people attended a workshop hosted by the China Center on “China in the 21st Century.”

In 2006, the China Center Committee established the China Center Directors Association, an association of U.S.-based colleges and universities that have China centers and wish to cooperate on future programs. And in October, the American Association of Chinese studies annual conference will take place on the Rollins campus. In 2008, Rollins partnered with Harvard University and Postdam University in Germany on an international conference representing 20 countries and 20 states, which led to multiple publications and books.

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