Three Professors to Teach in China
by Howard W. Hewitt
June 28, 2010
As the College takes steps to strengthen and expand Asian studies, three Wabash professors will have a unique six-week teaching experience at East China Normal University. Professors Mark Brouwer, Melissa Butler, and Ethan Hollander will serve on the Shanghai campus until early August.
The invitation to participate in the summer school came from a Chinese Wabash student, Hao Liu ’12. He is working this summer as a program manager and teaching assistant.
“There is only one reason to invite Wabash professors to teach at ECNU ISS: they can always bring great class experience to students,” Liu wrote from China. “Since we had to help the program find professors from U.S., I went directly to some professors at Wabash who I knew. Even though some of them had confirmed other obligations in the summer, they still helped me find the right candidates.”
The three professors will have an intense classroom experience. They will each teach two courses, four times a week, with two-hour class sessions.
Philosophy Professor Brouwer knows the chance to teach in China will present challenges. “Obviously, in a philosophy class I tend to really focus the course on discussion quite a bit. My lectures are usually entirely discussion driven. The way I lecture is students come to class with questions and I’ll start them off but often, in a given lecture, the whole lecture will be driven by student questions. I don’t know if I can rely on student questions in that kind of setting.”
The classroom will be a mixed group of students from different countries. The only thing they may have in common is varying degrees of English skills.
Though directly unrelated, the opportunity gives Wabash a chance to further explore an Asian studies program which will get a boost this fall, said Dean of the College Gary Phillips.
“All three will be presented with a unique opportunity to encounter Chinese students and culture in ways that could pay dividends for Wabash students and faculty,” Phillips said. “Our colleagues will be challenged to teach in an educational setting very removed from the American liberal arts model, and they will bring home an institutional experience that may prove beneficial to the College as we seek to expand engagement with Chinese educational institutions in support of Asian studies in the Wabash curriculum.”
Phillips said internationalizing Wabash means not just sending student to study abroad but for Wabash faculty to teach abroad. “I am also eager to learn out how their teaching presence can serve as an entree for Wabash students and faculty to this very important Chinese institution of higher education, affiliated with Fudan University that is committed to internationalization of its curriculum as the premier Chinese teacher education program.”
Assistant Professor of Political Science Ethan Hollander realizes the importance of the opportunity given the growing number of Chinese students attending Wabash. “Learning more about this vast and important country will also give me exposure to new perspectives and a different way of life,” he said. “I look forward to bringing back a little taste when the fall semester begins anew.”
The fall semester will be the first opportunity for Wabash students to take Chinese language classes.
“Beginning this fall, courses in Mandarin Chinese will be offered in the Modern Languages and Literatures department by Visiting Instructor Dorris Ssu-Yu Chou,” Dean Phillips said. “The College is in early conversations with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation about a grant to add an interdisciplinary faculty position in Chinese language, history, and culture; to collaborate with DePauw University in sending groups of Wabash and DePauw faculty over the next four years to workshops at the East-West Center in Honolulu followed the next summer by travel to China and Japan for language, teaching, and scholarship development; to create opportunities through collaborative teaching exchange between Wabash and DePauw in support of our respective Asian studies efforts; to experiment with an Ecuador-type summer excursion program that would send Wabash and DePauw students to China and Japan, and more.”
Brouwer, Hollander, and Butler are scheduled to leave July 2 for the six-week teaching experience.