Faculty members and administrators, travel to China in connection with the International Center and gain valuable insight during their study seminar conducted while there. Courtesy of Dr. Danny Damron

Recently, 21 faculty and administrators spent two weeks in China participating in a study seminar to better understand the nation’s 1.3 billion people.

“China is significant for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Danny Damron, director of the International Center. “[It has] the largest population, [the] largest middle class, [is the] number one destination for foreign investment, number one exporter to the U.S., largest consumer of steel, fourth largest economy  – predicted to surpass Japan in five years [and the] U.S. in 15 years – and it is predicted that in 2040, the Chinese economy will reach $123 trillion, or nearly 3 times the economic output of the entire globe in 2000.”

This year marks the first for the Global Spotlight Program. The program was started by the International Center, whose goal is to help students become more internationally aware and “globally competent” citizens. This year, the global spotlight is China.

This program is being funded by the International Center with additional contributions by each of the university’s schools. The faculty and administrators who went to the seminar in China represented all seven schools. They were given the opportunity to visit various universities, as well as visit some of the more popular tourist areas.

“The College of Education probably received the most tangible benefits from the trip,” Damron said. “They visited 6 different schools in preparation for a May 2011 international teaching experience for their student teachers. The connections and discussions will impact the curriculum in the college and the experiences students will have as a result of that trip.

“The College of Technology and Computing also made connections with Qinghai University. They are currently on a follow-up trip to Qinghai province to explore student and faculty exchange possibilities and study abroad opportunities.”

According to the International Center’s web page, they hope that “through participation in program events, faculty, students and community guests will break down stereotypes, connect across cultures and develop the habits of mind [that are] appropriate for global understanding.”