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Internationalizing curriculum development: 2017 American Experience Initiative spring workshop

AEI workshop participants

(Back row, from left): Chen Wei, Guo Liandong, Eric Wertheimer, Jane Hunter, Zhai Zheng, Yang Bin and Irma Sandercock. (Front row, from left): Ying Hui, Zeng Yi, Zhang Zhaoyang, Zhao Wen, Pan Xiaohui, Li Cuiyun, William Brashears and Huang Lei.

February 22, 2017

Arizona State University welcomed a new cohort of Chinese faculty to the 2017 American Experience Initiative (AEI) workshop in Phoenix. AEI is a uniquely hands-on approach to transforming global academic partnerships.

Faculty participants from top universities across China arrived on Sunday to take part in a series of collaborative learning activities and cultural experiences. As with past AEI programs in 2014-16, participants were paired with faculty consultants and experts from ASU, the Smithsonian Institution, Lewis & Clark College, Brown University and ASU’s Online EdPlus. The teams worked collaboratively to design curricula across the disciplines, using American Studies as an intellectual touchstone.  

“AEI is unique, and maybe even historic, in that it is the first systematic collaboration between Chinese and U.S. scholars on curriculum that can be taught in Chinese universities,” said Eric Wertheimer, professor of English at ASU. “By reimagining how American culture gets taught transculturally, it opens up the possibility for rethinking what American culture is.” 

“Programs like AEI allowed us to obtain more resources (not accessible to many Chinese faculty) to enhance the learning experiences in our classrooms in China and bring new perspectives to students,” said Dr. Zhai Zheng, Beijing Foreign Studies University, “and provides a network environment for in-depth academic exchange.”

“The workshop encourages us to think outside of the box in terms of interdisciplinary course development,” says Dr. Huang Lei, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. “Now I can leverage the resources from different universities and disciplinary to create a more comprehensive curriculum.”

As an important part of the overall move to further global engagement, ASU is looking to build more transformational partnerships by cultivating effective academic exchange and providing resources to forge impactful networks of international educators. AEI has offered four distinctive workshops, held in China; Phoenix/Tempe, Arizona; and Washington, D.C., and attracted faculty members from many top Chinese institutions. In addition to fostering traditional academic exchanges between American and Chinese faculty, AEI connects faculty and students around digital spaces.

Written by Angela Zhao, senior project manager

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