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Underwood, Rosenthal traveling to China to enhance School’s global connections

October 22, 2013
by Todd Finkelmeyer

Prior to leaving for her second trip to China in the past year-and-a-half, Julie Underwood was speaking about the value of such treks abroad when she admitted that there was a time when she would have had little interest in such an excursion.

Julie UnderwoodUnderwood, who has served as the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education since August 2005, explained that when she was interviewing for her current post, she was asked to give an example of a professional issue she has changed her perspective on.

“The importance of internationalization is something I’ve altered my attitude about,” she said. “Many years ago I just thought, ‘We have so many issues and opportunities just within the U.S. that we need to focus domestically.’  Well, the world has changed since then.”

Today, UW-Madison is one of the most internationally connected universities in the world and the School of Education continues to play a key role in building important relationships with other top schools overseas, while also preparing its students to be global citizens.

It was June of 2012 when Underwood and others connected to the School traveled to Xi’an, China.  At that time, four undergraduate students were enrolled in a two-week comparative education course offered through the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at Shaanxi Normal University. The class was co-taught by a professor from Shaanxi and UW-Madison C&I Professor Maggie Hawkins. Those from UW-Madison then finished that trip in Beijing.

This time, Underwood will be spending Thursday, Oct. 24 through Monday, Nov. 3 in China, where she will be joined by David Rosenthal, the School of Education’s Associate Dean for curriculum and international affairs. The two will be traveling both as a team and individually, making stops at five institutions (East China Normal University, Peking University, Beijing Normal University, Northeast Normal University and Renmin University of China) in an effort to enhance current partnerships and agreements, while starting conversations about new opportunities.

Moving forward, it’s expected that Ph.D. students from China will be coming to UW-Madison for both credit and non-credit opportunities through the university’s Visiting International Student Program, while students here may get the chance to teach in English speaking education environments in China. Underwood and Rosenthal also will be pitching to Chinese students the value of UW-Madison’s Global Higher Education master’s degree program.

“We can no longer be complacent with what we are as a university,” Rosenthal said of the importance of visiting China. “Times are changing very quickly in terms of internationalization and collaborations and easy access to information. I feel like I’m putting out sound bites, but universities can’t just hunker down and continue with business as usual. We need to continue to connect with others around the world.”

This trip will be anchored by the annual International Alliance for Leading Education Institutions (IALEI) Conference, which runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 and is being hosted by education faculty of Beijing Normal University. UW-Madison’s Gloria Ladson-Billings, the Kellner Family Professor of Urban Education, is delivering one of the keynote speeches at the conference, which is devoted to “access policy of higher education.”

UW-Madison’s School of Education is the United States’ representative in IALEI, a group of 10 global education leaders devoted to bringing about advances in education internationally.

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