Chemistry and materials sciences majors may soon be able to do research and take upper level science courses in Hong Kong without delaying their time to graduation.
Dr. Mike Carney, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Marc McEllistrem, professor of materials sciences, recently returned from Hong Kong where they laid the groundwork for student exchange programs for their majors that would allow our students to enroll in upper level chemistry and materials science courses at City University in Hong Kong.
If approved , the exchange program would give our chemistry and materials sciences majors a semester or longer international immersion experience, and bring science students from Hong Kong to our campus. Dr. Carney said hopes the student exchange would begin in spring 2014.
Faculty want chemistrty and materials science students to gain the perspective that comes from being immersed in a different culture, but it’s hard for students in those majors to have that experience without delaying their graduation because language and other logistics make it difficult to take the classes required for their majors abroad. In Hong Kong, classes are taught in English and courses are similar enough to those here that it would work well for students at both campuses.
The recent visit to Hong Kong by the science faculty and the proposed student exchange came about because of connections made by the delegation I led to Hong Kong and China in November. During that visit, we met with officials from City University. We found a shared desire to expand international opportunities for students in the sciences. I encouraged our faculty to follow up with City University.
Dr. Carney and Dr. McEllistrem’s visit to the campus in Hong Kong in February convinced them that an exchange program for students in their majors could work.
Students majoring in chemistry or materials science take one or two upper level courses within their major each semester to stay on track for graduation. Dr. McEllistrem said ttypically students who study abroad put the classes required for their major on hold when they are abroad, which delays their graduation.
But the kinds of science classes and the rigor of the curriculum offered at UW-Eau Claire and City University is similar enough that it would be possible for students to meet degree requirements with credits earned from classes taken during their time abroad.
UW-Eau Claire and City University both encourage undergraduate students to have scholarly experiences outside the classroom. We have made student-faculty undergraduate research a priority, while City University encourages students to work with faculty on what they call discovery projects. As a result, our science students could have an international research experience while in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong campus is appealing because while classes are taught in English, the campus sits within a diverse, multilingual urban area. It would allow students to take rigorous classes and conduct research without language being a barrier, yet they would be immersed in a culture that is very different than their own.
I’m thrilled that already we are seeing some very real benefits to our students and faculty from the time we invested in traveling to China and Hong Kong last fall! I am confident the relationship building we did will lead to even more new and exciting opportunities for our current and future students.