MSE Invites Chinese Scholar

The tradition of collaboration between BYU and Chinese educators is ongoing, particularly in the McKay School of Education. Dr. Lou Shizhou, Dean of Graduate Studies from Zhejiang Normal University (ZJNU) in Jinhua, China, has accepted an invitation to visit the McKay School of Education. His stay extends until April 15.  Accompanying him is one of his graduate students Zhang Ting, who is conducting research on Undergraduate Degree Requirement Criteria between Zhejiang Normal University and Brigham Young University for her Master’s thesis.

Lou comes as an Assistant to the President of ZJNU, Dean of Graduate Studies, Dean of the Educational Research College, and a member of the Institute of African Studies at ZJNU. He has three main objectives during his visit here:

  1. To initiate collaboration as an approved visiting scholar with the MSE programs and colleagues
  2. To use BYU’s world-class library to further his research on African higher education and development
  3. To learn more about the culture at BYU, including the LDS Church

Lou’s work in African studies supports China’s national interest in African higher education and development aid. Lou explained that since 2006, more than 200 scholars and university presidents, as well as middle school administrators from many African countries have visited ZJNU to exchange ideas. These visits and collaboration have mainly focused on promoting education excellence. Many of the language-training colleges have become Confucius colleges—teaching pedagogy, etc.

ZJNU has a special Institute of African Studies, of which Lou is a founding member. Professor Lou’s work focuses on higher education and development in Africa. In 2007, as a visiting scholar appointed by the Chinese government, Professor Lou visited a number of Nigerian Universities and the Nigerian University Commission Nigeria to complete his research. His visit and research is a product of a published book entitled Higher Education Research in Nigeria, to be used research and policy. It was through this work and research that Lou met Dr. Macleans A. Geo-JaJa, a native African who is a Professor of Economics and Education in the McKay School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Foundation. They began working together in 2007, with Geo-JaJa advising Lou on his book, and Lou subsequently translating Geo-JaJa’s works on poverty, educational poverty, and development into a book to be published in Chinese. "This collaboration has had significant impact on students and my colleagues," Lou said.

The collaborative research and discussion of Lou and Geo-JaJa, as well as Lou’s time spent in Africa, have significantly increased understanding of  Chinese government’s role and concern on education and development issues in Africa.  With the increased awareness and knowledge, many Chinese students and professors have been sent to African countries, and many African students have received scholarships to come to ZJNU. Next year more than 20 Chinese students and teachers will be studying in Africa for six months to a year.

The collaboration has been significantly beneficial, as Zhejiang Normal University has become the major center in China for the study of African education and development. "Some Africa policy research has come out of these initiatives at ZJNU,” Geo-JaJa stated. Part of the work that Lou will do here will involve translation of more of Geo-JaJa’s works into Chinese for the book to be published this summer.

Lou has shown a particular interest in learning more about the unique culture at BYU.  Lou said. “I would like to know more about religious education here at BYU, and about the multicultural influence on student development.” He expressed special interest in the BYU Ballroom Dance Team. “They are very good,” he noted.

Lou hopes that his visit will raise awareness at ZJNU and BYU of the collaboration between the two universities. “China has changed a lot in recent years,” he said. “We hope to introduce these changes to people at BYU, in Utah, and in the United States.” He hopes that people here will be interested to learn more about China. “I believe this visit to BYU and the communication I will have with colleagues will produce meaningful exchange of ideas and collaboration that will directly impact my research. This will be a fruitful visit that will add value to my academic work.”

Those interested in meeting Dr. Lou Shizhou are invited to contact Al Merkley, (al_merkley@byu.edu).

29 March 2010