Study abroad program bridges St. Louis and Shanghai

Bridging St. Louis and Shanghai and expanding the scope of Washington University in St. Louis’ academic programs far beyond the Danforth Campus, a new study abroad program is being launched at Fudan University.

Aimed at examining Chinese language, culture and society, and the role of China in global and historical contexts, the comprehensive educational program is scheduled to begin in fall 2011.

Plans include a Shanghai Center to house the program and academic staff to coordinate and develop a curriculum, as well as internships, research and service opportunities over time.

While WUSTL already sends more than 600 students abroad each year, the Fudan program will take a more ambitious approach to developing a substantial program at one location, strengthening the university’s relationship with a world-class institution and ensuring that WUSTL programs are imbued with a global awareness critical in the 21st century.

“Interest in Chinese language and culture has never been higher at Washington University and, given the rising importance of China as a global power, we are very excited to introduce more of our students to this area of study at such a premier institution in China,” says Edward S. Macias, PhD, provost, executive vice chancellor and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.

“Fudan University is one of the world’s great universities and Washington University values the many opportunities that will be afforded to our students and faculty through the development of this partnership,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton says. “Our ties to Fudan University through the McDonnell International Scholars Academy and through our Executive MBA program are the foundation for significant educational programs going forward.”

The university’s undergraduate presence at Fudan University already includes an intensive summer Chinese language program launched in 2009. Thirty-six WUSTL students spent eight weeks in China that year studying intermediate to advanced Chinese.

The summer program facilitates study of a full year of Chinese in a single summer with small classes, language partners, field trips and other activities.

Simultaneously, seven undergraduate interns worked in Shanghai last summer with companies like Cabot China and Johnson & Johnson.

The new program is being designed to highlight the academic strengths of the university.

“We are instituting a Chinese language curriculum that will offer two approaches — an accelerated short course at the beginning of the semester to jump start language acquisition, followed by a regular language course that stretches throughout the semester,” says Lingchei Letty Chen, PhD, associate professor of modern Chinese language and literature in Arts & Science and academic director of the program.

“We are also designing our content courses to incorporate field training and site visits with the expectation that students will conduct independent field research,” Chen says. “Our program provides students internship opportunities combined with language and content courses. Our program also arranges opportunities for our students to meet and interact with our alumni.”

Founded in 1905, Fudan University is one of China’s leading universities. Internationally known for its academic excellence, Fudan has an enrollment of more than 26,000 full-time students, approximately 3,500 faculty members and 17 schools. It is actively engaged in international student and faculty exchanges.

“Fudan as a university and Shanghai as a city offer especially rich opportunities for our students,” Chen says. “Shanghai, being the first cosmopolitan center of modern China with a population of some 19 million, is not only China’s largest city, but the commercial and financial center of the country, with both modern and traditional Chinese features.”

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy, which brings graduate students from partner institutions around the world to Washington University, has partnered with Fudan University since 2005.

The Executive MBA Shanghai program is a joint educational venture between the Olin Business School at Washington University and the School of Management at Fudan University. In 2008, the Financial Times ranked the program eighth in the world and first in mainland China. The success of this program, established in 2002, is an excellent basis for further development by Washington University in Shanghai.

For more information on the new program, contact Priscilla Stone, PhD, assistant provost for international education, at (314) 935-7647 or