Linda Serra Hagedorn delivers a speech at the grand opening of the American cultural center at Henan Normal University in China. Photo contributed by Hagedorn.
Linda Serra Hagedorn delivers a speech at the grand opening of the American cultural center at Henan Normal University in China. Photo contributed by Hagedorn.

Iowa State partnership with Chinese university bridges two heartlands

This summer, Iowa State University students and faculty members will visit Henan Normal University in China to advance an emerging partnership between the two institutions.

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The American cultural center’s activity room provides 927 square feet of space. Photo contributed by Linda Serra Hagedorn.

With a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Iowa State worked with Henan Normal to establish an American cultural center on Henan Normal’s campus. The center features American books, newspapers, magazines, music CDs, DVDs, and board games.

“It’s exciting to reach out to a university in China and see the similarities are greater than the differences,” said Linda Serra Hagedorn, associate dean of the College of Human Sciences and principal investigator for the grant. “The idea of this project is to extend friendship and better understanding across cultures. Education is the avenue through which that’s going to occur.”

The Iowa State team also includes Arne Hallam, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Liang (Rebecca) Tang, an assistant professor in apparel, events, and hospitality management.

Visits to China

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Arne Hallam meets with Henan Normal students. Photo contributed by Linda Serra Hagedorn.

Hagedorn and Hallam attended the American cultural center’s grand opening in March and noted the excitement of Henan Normal students and faculty.

“The faculty and students at Henan Normal University are very interested in the United States and lessons they can learn by observing our culture, our values, and our social and economic policies,” Hallam said.

Tang, who is originally from China and has lived in the United States for nine years, will visit Henan Normal in mid-May to meet with students and faculty in the tourism management program. She will introduce Iowa State and give students advice about pursuing educational opportunities in the U.S.

“I’m familiar with both the U.S. and China, so I hope I’ll be able to be a bridge,” Tang said.

Hagedorn will visit Shanghai in June to meet with other directors of American cultural centers in China funded through the same grant program.

“We’ll have the chance to compare our centers, talk about what we’re doing, and share ideas,” Hagedorn said.

Five Iowa State students will also travel to China in late July to conduct a three-week summer camp teaching English language and American culture to middle school students in Henan Province.

Educational links

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Dean Duanmu, Jianmin Hei, Linda Serra Hagedorn, and Arne Hallam attend the opening reception. Photo contributed by Hagedorn.

Tang’s marketing classes at Iowa State have been collaborating on learning activities with similar classes at Henan Normal. Tang said communicating in real time is difficult due to language barriers, a 13-hour time difference, and scheduling issues, so the classes are exchanging written assignments first.

Students at both universities are examining case studies of companies marketing in the U.S. and China, writing responses, and providing feedback on work from the other class.

“The Henan Normal students can give our students feedback on whether their suggestions and marketing strategies fit China or not,” Tang said. “Henan Normal students will also send their case study on a U.S. company to us, which gives them an opportunity to improve their English writing.”

Tang also plans to link her graduate tourism class with Henan Normal graduate students this fall.

“They can talk about what kind of projects they do at the graduate level,” Tang said. “And in my class many students are Chinese, so they can share their experiences and talk about why they came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s.”

Joint programs

Henan Normal students already have the opportunity to study at Iowa State and earn a master’s degree in education with a focus on global leadership.

Hagedorn said Henan Normal and Iowa State are exploring possibilities for new joint programs in early childhood education, instructional technology, and hospitality management. No joint degree programs with foreign partner institutions exist in these three fields of study.

Both institutions are interested in offering a joint bachelor’s degree, with two years of study at Henan Normal and two years at Iowa State, and a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Hagedorn views this evolving partnership as a starting point and a model for other universities to emulate.

“I hope this is a beginning of additional partnerships that we can provide, not just to China but to other countries as well,” she said. “I want this to … enhance the experiences of our students to give them more opportunities for a global education.”

Contacts

Linda Serra Hagedorn, associate dean, Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, 515-294-5746, lindah@iastate.edu

Arne Hallam, associate dean, Iowa State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 515-294-5861, ahallam@iastate.edu

Liang (Rebecca) Tang, assistant professor, Iowa State University Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, 515-294-8489, rebeccat@iastate.edu

Sarah Burke, graduate assistant, Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, 515-294-9424, hswriter@iastate.edu

  • Quick Look

    This summer, Iowa State University students and faculty members will visit Henan Normal University in China to advance an emerging partnership between the two institutions.


  • “I hope this is a beginning of additional partnerships that we can provide, not just to China but to other countries as well. I want this to … enhance the experiences of our students to give them more opportunities for a global education.”

    Linda Serra Hagedorn