Fudan's worldview
Updated: 2018-10-10
By Cao Chen (China Daily)

5bbd4ce8a310eff369003f91.jpg

A modern drama troupe from the Confucius Institute at the University of Frankfurt performs a play on International Confucius Institute Day on Sept 23 in 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A Shanghai university is leveraging its international partnerships to help promote human progress at home and abroad.

Last October, Shanghai released its action plan to serve as a pioneer in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. The next month, Fudan University set up the Institute of Belt and Road and Global Governance.

Fudan University, as one of China's top universities, has considered it a major responsibility to serve as a think tank to assist national strategies and facilitate international understanding as it strives to build itself into a world-class institute of excellence, according to the university management.

"We feel obliged to further facilitate international cooperation and communication among colleges, which shall be aimed to promote the development of human societies and serve the national strategies," says university President Xu Ningsheng.

China has embarked on a development trail with no precedent example to follow, according to Jiao Yang, the university's Party chief who serves as the director of the institute, citing the Belt and Road Initiative.

"As there is no existing model to follow, it takes intellectual support from higher education institutions to promote research on the initiative for policy insight and to facilitate high-level think tank exchange for overall, comprehensive and accurate decision-making," she says.

The university has been preparing for the institute's establishment since 2015 when Fudan chaired a think tank alliance for the initiative.

"The institute has continued to bring together experts and groom talent from across the world to discuss policies and matching strategies, forming an international highway for intellectual exchange and information sharing," Jiao says.

This is made possible thanks to Fudan's extensive cooperation with foreign institutes.

Supported by Fudan Development Institute, the university has built research centers for China studies at foreign universities in Latin America, North America and Europe since 2012, such as at University of California in the United States, University of Copenhagen in Denmark and Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico.

Xu Xian, director at Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, has witnessed the development of the center based at the University of California.

"To build research teams focusing their vision on China in a foreign country is a process requiring great effort, but when everything is done, these overseas centers for China studies will act as a driving force to facilitate academic exchanges and enhance mutual trust between nations," said Xu.

Fudan says it has also launched various exchange programs bringing foreign scholars from across the world to get a better understanding of China.

Geeta Kochhar, a visiting scholar from India, arrived at the university in May on a visiting scholar program sponsored by Fudan.

She set off the program with a round-table discussion on Sino-Indian relations, from which she sensed a strong interest in the attitude toward the Belt and Road Initiative among Chinese scholars based in India.

5bbd4ce8a310eff369003f93.jpg

As a member of a medical team supporting African countries, Zhang Yuyan, an ophthalmologist at Huashan hospital affiliated to Fudan University, provides medical aid in Morocco in 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 She has since devoted her time in Fudan to China's new economic policy and Sino-India relations.

"I hope to be able to better explain the relevant policies of the two countries, and to make a contribution to mutual understanding between the two governments," says Kochhar.

To help people to speak foreign language, like Kochhar, who is curious about China and its culture, Confucius Institute branches are gradually springing up at Fudan's partner universities overseas.

As the initiator and dean of Confucius Institute at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Zhou Bing, also a professor of history at Fudan, says: "The institute is bridging the cultural gap between the two countries and trying to foster a research and teaching environment free from national boundaries."

Until 2017, the institute has enrolled 130,000 international students in Auckland, a city with a total population of less than 1.5 million. Cultural activities held by the institute have attracted more than 200,000 participants, Zhou adds.

Fudan has participated in advancing the establishment of seven Confucius Institute branches globally - including the one in Auckland - three of which have been evaluated as exemplary Confucius institute models in the world.

Academic cooperation is another vital element to achieve the goal of building a world-class university of excellence.

For instance, the Institute of Science and Technology for Brain-Inspired Intelligence at Fudan University has cooperated with foreign universities, like Cambridge University and Oxford University, on achieving outcomes that benefit artificial intelligence algorithms, intelligent diagnosis of brain diseases, brain-analogous chips and new medicine development.

Superior research has laid the foundation for the university's contribution to the world beyond academic circles, and shows humanitarian concern to countries in need. For example, in 2017, hospitals affiliated to Fudan University sent three medical teams of 30 people to Pakistan, Morocco and Madagascar to provide medical assistance.

Lu Hongzhou, a professor specializing in infectious diseases at Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center affiliated to Fudan University, is among those who have battled the outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa.

Lu taught locals about how to prevent and control the Ebola virus, and compiled textbooks in English for training doctors, as well as information pamphlets for the public.

He was praised by the local African government and international organizations.

"It is my job as a doctor to cure diseases and save patients, regardless of their gender or nationality," says Lu.

"There is more to do in the future."

Copyright © 2014 Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. All rights reserved.