CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University has established a partnership with Wuhan Polytechnic University in China, offering SUU students an even more internationalized campus, which will help them learn from and understand different cultures, become more aware of global similarities and differences and increase their openness and support of people from different backgrounds.
This partnership falls in line with SUU’s essential learning outcomes, including “knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world and intercultural knowledge and competence.”
In 2011, Wuhan Polytechnic University approached SUU wanting to start dual degree programs. After years of planning and development, they have established programs in the communication and construction management departments, with future plans to extend the dual degree opportunities to business majors.
Students from China can now complete their first two years of coursework at WPU and then come to SUU for the last two years and receive a bachelor’s degree from both universities. As a way to prepare and transition students to SUU, the university in China also helped establish an English writing center.
The construction management program was the first to offer a dual degree for WPU students. Eric Freden, interim associate dean of the College of Science and Engineering, and many other engineering professors have been working with WPU for roughly five years to plan and prepare the program. The first group of 10 students came to SUU this fall.
Ray is a Chinese student from WPU studying construction management who spoke highly of the new program.
“When I heard I had the chance to go to an American university I was so excited,” Ray said. “At SUU I’m able to learn the most up-to-date engineering and construction technology that isn’t taught at my university.”
When asked what he enjoys most about SUU, Ray said he liked the fact that his teachers are also his friends.
“That is something I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “They are always supporting and helping us.”
In May, a Master in Business Administration agreement was finalized with WPU. Since construction management includes many prerequisites for a business degree, those students will be able to complete their MBA if they stay one additional year at SUU.
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences has established a new dual degree communication program. The first Chinese students in this program will come to SUU’s campus next fall. To help prepare them for the transition, professors have been traveling to China to teach a variety of classes.
“The dual degree program provides a new avenue to internationalize SUU’s campus,” Dr. Jim McDonald, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said. “An important goal is to create a teaching, learning and living environment that helps our students become global citizens. This will lead to greater cross-cultural engagement and understanding. ”
Julia Combs, director of the SUU Writing Center, traveled to China over the summer with five of her student workers to open a writing center at WPU. They were able to implement the program and train the Chinese students to keep it running. It is one of the first English writing centers in China.
A writing center is a student-helping-student system where more proficient English speakers help their peers improve their writing skills. Students at WPU learn English but don’t use it very often. The center will help them improve their English speaking and critical writing skills to prepare them to study abroad.
“We care about these international students and we want them to succeed,” Combs said. “We’re hoping the center will help them practice their English and become more comfortable with the language.”
It is estimated that 30 Chinese students will take advantage of each dual degree program and the partnership will continue to grow. As the SUU campus internationalizes and welcome more cultures, new opportunities and experiences will continue to arise for the university community.