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UCLA Exchange with East China Normal University Promotes International Collaborative Research

UCLA Exchange with East China Normal University Promotes International Collaborative Research

Jianbo Dong is UCLA's first visiting scholar through its exchange agreement with ECNU.

Elizabeth Leicester Email ElizabethLeicester

In 2007, UCLA and East China Normal University entered a formal institutional agreement to facilitate and encourage collaborative research and scholarly exchange between faculty working on topics of mutual interest at the two universities. With initial visiting scholar appointments lasting up to one year, the program will nurture long-term collaborations and new avenues of intellectual inquiry through international workshops, joint publications, and graduate student training.

Jianbo Dong, Associate Professor of History, is UCLA’s first visiting exchange scholar from ECNU, in residence for the 2007-08 academic year. Prof. Dong, studies economic and social change in China since the eighteenth century. His current research is on the connections of urban and rural economic development in the early twentieth-century Yangtze Delta region. At UCLA, he has collaborated with R. Bin Wong, Professor of History and Director of the Asia Institute and studied the theoretical approach of the “California School” of economic history, which reconceives the development of China’s premodern economy as parallel to and of equal validity to that of Europe, and of which Wong is a leading proponent. Dong gathered literature and data on Chinese economic and social history in the UCLA East Asian Library for his research. As an exchange scholar, he was able to integrate into the life of the campus through participation in the Center for Chinese Studies research and methodology proseminar and by sitting in on classes taught by Chinese studies faculty.

The relationship between UCLA and ECNU is supported by an institutional linkage which provides cross-enrollment between the two universities for students accepted into the exchange program, as well as fellowships and living expenses for visiting students and scholars. UCLA students studying at ECNU remain enrolled at UCLA and receive credit for the quarters they are abroad, and the same is true for ECNU students studying at UCLA.

When he returns to ECNU in September, 2008, Dong will serve as a mentor for UCLA History graduate student Maura Dykstra, who will conduct predissertation research with a fellowship from the Asia Institute during Fall quarter. Dykstra observes of her association with Dong, “During the course of our frequent contact, we have discussed a number of topics related to the study of Chinese history on the mainland and in the United States. These discussions have led to interesting insights into the differences between approaches to the study of history in our respective countries. An opportunity to study as a graduate student at ECNU will provide further material for our ongoing discussion about the methodologies of history in two very different – but increasingly connected – environments.” 

UCLA will receive its first exchange student from ECNU in Fall 2008. Jing Xu will enroll in courses in the School of Education and prepare for her research on  a comparison of  educational achievement in the Chinese and American middle classes. A second UCLA student, Fei Wu from the Department of Social Welfare, will attend ECNU in Winter 2009 to collaborate with scholars there on her research on HIV/AIDS and drug abuse among heroin addicts released from compulsory rehabilitation in China.

For more information about the UCLA-ECNU exchange program, click here.

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