Colorado State University Online welcomed to campus 13 students from China to walk in Spring 2017 commencement ceremonies — CSU’s largest ever group of international online students.
They were the first cohort to participate in a Master of Tourism Management program offered through a partnership by CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources (HDNR) and Central China Normal University (CCNU). The program is one of several University initiatives with educational institutions in China.
“This program was established as a result of years of collaboration between tourism faculty in HDNR and at CCNU,” Said Mike Palmquist, Associate Provost for Instructional Innovation. “The collaboration grew naturally from a mutual recognition that the work CSU faculty were doing would fit well with needs in China.” Palmquist noted that the degree has been approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education — a first for this kind of program.
“I’ve visited CCNU in the city of Wuhan, and am impressed with the faculty and students. This is a partnership that has earned CSU high regard in China, particularly because we are focusing on smaller classes and high quality instruction,” Palmquist said.
Translating CSU’s expertise
Students in the program take 24 credits online through CSU and 8 credits at CCNU to complete their course of study. Courses are taught in Mandarin, including online lectures from CSU faculty who are fluent in Mandarin as well as lectures — close-captioned in Chinese — that are delivered in video and other media by a range of HDNR faculty members. In addition to the online courses, face-to-face courses are taught by CSU Assistant Professors Lina Xiong and David Knight, who take turns traveling to Wuhan to teach.
When they finish the program, students earn degrees from both CSU and CCNU. “Being able to get a U.S. degree is a really big deal for them,” Xiong said.
Dian Cui, one of the students who traveled to CSU for graduation said, “This program provides us a very valuable opportunity to [gain] professional knowledge from CSU without going abroad. Some students in China are not very good at English, and they might not be able to pass the IELTS or TOEFL exams to be accepted into [a program] abroad. This program offers opportunities to these students.”
She added that CCNU is well known in China for its research in the field of tourism, and said, “It’s a pleasure for me to be in this program.”
Xiao Hu, another student from the program to attend commencement said, “This is something I’ve never done before, and it was a great and efficient way to learn new things. It was a great experience.”
“This first group to graduate serves as a symbol,” Xiong said, “They are the first cohort and we’re very proud of them.”
For CSU Online, this first cohort also serves as a symbol. “It is our first China initiative and it has been quite successful,” said Karima Bounini, who directs the program for CSU Online. “We are pursuing a number of other initiatives as well and look forward to making it possible for even more students in China to be able to receive a CSU education.”