Scripps College of Communication administrators Terry Eiler, Jerry Miller, Bob Stewart, Interim Dean Scott Titsworth, Phil Campbell and Hans Kruse meet with Zhejiang University Professor and Assistant Dean Lu Wei, third from right, on campus on Aug. 17.

Photographer: Soozan Palsa

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Scripps College seeks to expand international partnership with Zhejiang University in China

College leaders meet with Zhejiang officials to discuss ideas for further collaboration

On Aug. 17, leaders from the Scripps College of Communication met on Ohio University’s main campus in Athens with Professor and Assistant Dean Lu Wei and Executive Director Sancheng Xu of Zhejiang University’s College of Media and International Culture in China to brainstorm ways to bolster the relationship between the two universities.

Last year, the universities began the partnership on the recommendation of Xin Liu, a graduate of both institutions and one of the founders and directors of the Enlight Foundation, a California non-profit that has donated more than $1.9 million to the Scripps College of Communication. Currently, a partnership between the College of Media and International Culture at Zhejiang University and OHIO’s School of Visual Communication in the Scripps College of Communication aims “at cooperating for excellence in visual communication research, education, and practice.”

Officials from both institutions are interested in expanding the program that takes into account other growing fields of communication and media studies in both China and the United States. While the current agreement limits the partnership to the School of Visual Communication, leaders from both universities wish to expand the partnership to include faculty and student engagement from across the entire College.

“Expanding upon the existing agreement and including all the College’s schools and departments will allow OHIO faculty and students to collaborate with Zhejiang University in new, meaningful ways,” said Bob Stewart, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. “This change will allow us to open our research to other fresh, innovative fields of study like media and mobile communications.”

The Enlight Foundation, which Liu founded and directs with her husband Yong Ping Duan, supports a Faculty Mobility Fund, among other things, to send OHIO faculty members to Zhejiang and other top Chinese universities. In 2011, the fund supported OHIO School of Visual Communication Director Terry Eiler as he traveled to Zhejiang to meet with faculty and present lectures. In May, Eiler returned to China with then Scripps College of Communication Assistant Dean Eric Rothenbuhler to discuss the partnership. The visiting scholar to OHIO this academic year is Tao Lee, whose research area is historic cartoon images within communication.

“We very much look forward to pushing forward,” said Wei. “We have already sent one of our faculty members to Ohio University, and we look forward to doing more.”

According to Interim Dean Scott Titsworth, opportunities exist for collaboration among students and faculty in both quantitative and qualitative research. If successful, the program should provide project-based work that could be undertaken jointly by faculty and students at both universities.

 “At Scripps, we have a strong commitment to international exchanges and we have a robust infrastructure to support cohorts of international students,” said Titsworth. “Expanding our existing agreement to include the entire College and involve more students would promote cross-disciplinary studies and help shift our research from knowledge acquisition to knowledge production. We’re grateful to the Enlight Foundation for helping the Scripps College to increase its international presence.”

In a previous statement, Liu said that gift was prompted by a desire to “get more college students involved in programs that help to produce social entrepreneurs with a global view of the world and the culture surrounding them.”

The growing relationship between Zhejiang University and OHIO is a direct reflection of those goals.

“Giving students from different cultures and backgrounds the opportunity to work together and learn from one another expands the worldview of both countries’ students,” said Stewart. “Looking ten years ahead, we envision many U.S. students working in China, so opportunities for OHIO students to study abroad and find colleagues in students from other cultures seems like the natural next step.”

Scripps College faculty and administrators expect to present a new draft of the agreement to Zhejiang University this fall, which will include provisions for full College involvement, joint research proposals, and a study abroad/ exchange program for students from both universities. The long-term goals of the agreement include a joint MA program, a joint professional training program, and a joint international symposium or conference.

In addition to Eiler, Stewart and Titsworth, the following Scripps College of Communication representatives attended the meeting: Interim Associate Dean Hans Kruse; Drew McDaniel, faculty member in the School of Media Arts and Studies; Jerry Miller, interim director of the School of Communication Studies; and Phil Campbell, director of the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems.