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Programme Design Mission of Faculty of Spatial Sciences (FSS) to Yantai, China 14-17 November

07 December 2017

Professor Oscar Couwenberg, Dean of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences (FSS) of the University of Groningen (UG), led a programme design mission to Yantai during 14-17 November 2017. The mission was teamed by Dr. Yongjun Zhao (Programme Director), Dr. Arjan van den Assem (Director of Education) and Dr. Katharina Gugerell (Assistant Professor in Planning and Spatial Design). The purpose of the mission was to design the framework of the Preparatory Programme and its follow-on Master Programme Environmental and Infrastructural Planning (EIP) for the University of Groningen Yantai (UGY). UGY is a joint initiative of the University of Groningen and China Agricultural University (CAU). The latter has recently been ranked as the fourth best global university with an agricultural sciences focus.

The team had a detailed meeting with the counterparts led by Professor Renjie Dong, Vice President of UGY, who was teamed by Dr. Lin Li, Dr. Shaojing Jiang and other colleagues. The meeting was especially focused on design of the Preparatory Programme and concluded on the following issues:

  • The preparatory one-year programme is aimed at preparing students well for the second-year Master Programme EIP
  • Student’s English language proficiency would be an essential of the admission to the Master EIP, thus, the first-year Preparatory Programme has to have a strong focus on academic English training with an orientation of EIP-related materials
  • The preparatory year is also to have foundational modules on planning design and institutions
  • Both Preparatory Programme and EIP are to give ample reflection on local context and overall urban-rural development issues in China
  • Student exchange and internship programmes related to EIP would be developed for both UGY and UG students

The team also visited the Yantai Architecture Design Research Company Ltd to learn about their scope of work and possible ways of collaboration. Warmly welcomed by President Tianshi Li of the company, the team had a fruitful meeting on the work priorities and research directions of the company. Both sides agreed upon the following issues:

  • The company would collaborate with FSS programmes in relevant research activities focused on the institutional dimensions of planning design
  • The company would host FSS researchers and students for relevant research and internship activities
Photo 1: Meeting at Yantai Architecture Design Research Company Ltd
Photo 1: Meeting at Yantai Architecture Design Research Company Ltd

The team had a stimulating meeting with the Agricultural and Cultural Research Centre of the School of Humanities of the Yantai campus of CAU. Hosted by Professor Xingzuo Li, also Vice President of UGY, and Dr. Liang Chang, Dean of the School, the team learnt that the Centre was the largest on agricultural-related research on the campus, and was gaining substantial support from local municipal government for research. Their research has prioritized cultural heritage and village ecologic and economic development issues. The Centre has offered Bachelors in Public Management since 2007 in close cooperation with the CAU in Beijing, among other Bachelors Programmes. The Centre is in an appropriate position to help develop contacts, content and materials for the Preparatory Programme and EIP and for research projects. Both teams agreed on the following issues:

  • There is a strong need in China to use multidisciplinary approaches focused on the social, cultural and ecological factors for sustainable urban-rural planning. Integrating this factor into course materials would make the programmes more suitable for the needs of Chinese students
  • The Centre’s research sites in certain local villages could host FSS teachers and students for various activities
  • Developing a strong alliance between CAU, the Centre and FSS will facilitate greater collaboration in research and teaching, especially benefiting EIP in the future
  • Both teams will continue to discuss how to collaborate in teaching and research

The team also visited two villages to learn more about the Centre’s research projects on traditional culture preservation and village ecological and economic development. Interacting with local villagers and their leaders, the team familiarized with the local situation and discovered great opportunities that the villages could offer to FSS teachers and students for all the departments of the faculty.

Photo 2: Agricultural and Cultural Research Centre, Yantai Research Institute
Photo 2: Agricultural and Cultural Research Centre, Yantai Research Institute
Photo 3: Visit to a research project site on village cultural heritage preservation
Photo 3: Visit to a research project site on village cultural heritage preservation

Overall, the visit was a success, paving a smooth way for follow-up communication and collaboration with the Yantai colleagues. The outcomes of the meetings also help in better detailing the programmes by FSS staff and Yantai counterparts in the coming months. On behalf of the team, Professor Couwenberg extended his sincere appreciation to the teams in Yantai for their dedication to the preparatory work and the warmest hospitality offered.

Last modified:07 December 2017 12.50 p.m.

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