By Joel Hall
After a recent trip to the Hunan Province, Clayton State University President Thomas Harden and assistant professor of marketing and merchandising, Zi Wan, secured what may become an unprecedented exchange between a Chinese university and the University System of Georgia.
Last month, Drs. Harden and Wan traveled to Zhuzhou, China, and signed an agreement for a faculty exchange between Clayton State University and the Hunan University of Technology (HUT). After a series of meetings with HUT President Hanqing Wang, and vice president, Taigang Liu, the two universities agreed to allow professors to do teaching exhanges for varying periods of time -- ground transportation and housing provided.
Harden said both universities are currently evaluating each other's curriculums, which may lead to the finalization of a student exchange program sometime later this summer.
"This agreement, if it works out the way we think it will, we could have 200 Chinese students a year studying here," said Hardin. "We will most likely see students from the Hunan University of Technology come and complete bachelor's degrees."
Harden said the university created an Office of International Education three years ago and since then, have been "trying to enhance our student's ability to study abroad and increase our faculty's ability to be able to teach abroad and bring those skills back into the classroom."
He said Clayton students could benefit from the packaging design and technology HUT specializes in, and HUT students could benefit from CSU's information technology and business management programs.
"The world has gotten a lot smaller," and "our students are really inexperienced here and in the state of Georgia with other cultures," said Hardin. He said students need a "global perspective" to thrive, and believes the exchange with HUT will help.
Wan, a native of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, was instrumental in securing the agreement. Wan said it marks "a new chapter for the whole Georgia education system" and would begin the first "consistent exchange" between a Chinese university and the University System of Georgia.
"We opened this kind of door to the two universities," said Wan, who also serves as coordinator of Clayton State's Chinese International Program. She said the agreement will bring in additional dollars to Clayton State University and will also serve to increase understanding between the two countries.
"I think a lot of [people] who haven't gone to China are scared of China, but go and see and you will know if you like it or not," said Wan. "I really want to see our two countries communicate and make the whole thing better."