IIE Networker - Spring 2011 - (Page 21)

100,000 STRONG INITIATIVE 100,000 Strong: Building Strategic Trust in U.S.-China Relations through Education By Carola McGiffert THE NEED FOR Americans to gain greater exposure to and understanding of China is clear: there is perhaps no more important or complex relationship in the world than that between the United States and China in terms of securing global peace and security. Virtually no major international issue—whether global economic recovery or climate change or nuclear nonproliferation—can be solved without the active engagement of both the United States and China working in concert. As President Obama stated in July 2009, “the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century.” Yet Americans know relatively little about China. According to the Open Doors 2010 Report, only 13,674 U.S. college students studied in China in 2008-09, making it the fifth most popular study abroad destination. For high school students, which are not tracked by Open Doors, we have seen estimates of about 1,000. That same report shows that over 100,000 Chinese students enrolled in American universities this past year, meaning that eight times more Chinese students come to the United States for educational programs than Americans who study in China. The contrast is even greater when it comes to language study. English language study is part of China’s national curriculum. As a result, according to Chinese official media, over 300 million Chinese were studying English in 2006—nearly a quarter of the country’s population. According to the Modern Lang uage Association, 50,000 Americans are learning Mandarin. In addition, there are differences in the type of study abroad by U.S. and Chinese students, in part ref lecting the excellence of higher education offered in the United States. While many U.S. students in China participate in summer, semester, and year language and study programs, most Chinese are completing four-year and graduate degrees in the United States. According to Open Doors 2010, nearly 60 percent of Chinese students in the United States are in graduate programs. Chinese government data reports that only a handful of American students are currently pursuing graduate degrees at Chinese universities. Finally, the Americans who do take advantage of study abroad programs have historically been a remarkably homogenous group. A typical profile for an American study abroad student is female, Caucasian, middle or upper class, and enrolled in a four-year college or university. While we encourage and support the significant expansion of this group, which is already motivated to study in China, we must also do more to reach a broader cross-section of Americans. Community colleges, middle and high school students, African-Americans and Hispanics, students from lower economic backgrounds, and public schools are greatly underrepresented in study abroad programs, and particularly those to China. Community colleges, for example, enroll almost half of all undergraduate students in the United States, yet less than 3 percent of those who study abroad come from community colleges. And yet it is exactly these underrepresented students who could most benefit from study abroad programs. A recent study by the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI) found that students who study abroad have improved academic performance upon returning home and higher graduation rates. This study focused on college students, but there is also evidence that high school students who engage in some form of study abroad graduate at higher rates and are better prepared for college and the workplace. These factors—a relatively low-level of first-hand knowledge, plus the lack of diversity in terms of types of study and types of students—combine to create an imbalance in knowledge and experience between the United States and China, one which has the potential to undermine strategic trust between the two countries. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated in May 2010, the success of the United States and China “will be based on how well we understand each other, respect each other, trust each other and are open to learning from each other.” Redressing this imbalance in knowledge and experience is essential to ensuring that Americans have the cultural understanding and language skills that underpin effective diplomacy and foreign policy. In addition, redressing this imbalance will ensure that our students are prepared for their role in the global economy, where international literacy is a critical skill. In order to stay economically competitive, Americans will need to understand the global economy of the 21st century. Today, one in five U.S. jobs is linked to international trade. Earlier this year, China became the second largest economy in the world, after the United States; to be sure, America’s economic growth is inextricably linked with that of China. In part for these reasons, interest in China is on the rise among Americans. The number of Americans studying in China quadrupled from 2000-2007, and we expect those numbers to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. (Numbers for 2008-10 might not be as robust due to the global financial crisis, but demand has not waned.) And yet, while this organic growth is remarkable—and encouraging—current trends may be insufficient to meet the real challenges and opportunities of this vitally important relationship. 21

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2011

IIE Networker - Spring 2011
A Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
2011 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards: Innovation in International Education
100,000 Strong: Building Strategic Trust in U.S.-China Relations through Education
Experiencing Difference: The Meaning of Globalization at a Diverse Institution
Diversity in International Education: The Time Is Now
Diversity in Education Abroad: A Plan for Our Campuses
Best Practices for Diversifying Study Abroad on Your Campus
The Ethnorelative Engineer: Culturally Immersive Study Abroad Programs for Engineering Students
NanoJapan: Preparing Globally Savvy Researchers
Minority Faculty: The Key to Diversifying Study Abroad
Best Practices for When Diversity Is Commonplace
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile

IIE Networker - Spring 2011