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China in the Ozarks: Part Six: Public Affairs Mission Potrayed in China

In 2000 Missouri State University started a branch campus at Normal University in Dalian, China. Since that time, the campus has seen hundreds of students graduate with an Associate of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science in General Business. The campus in China is fully integrated with the Missouri State community. KSMU's Emily Nash looks at how the universities public affairs mission is promoted and received in China.

Missouri State University tries to distinguish itself from other universities by promoting what is called the Public Affairs Mission.

The mission promotes democracy, and encourages students to be responsible citizens of their community.

Steve Robinette is the Acting Assistant Provost for the Missouri State Extended Campus, .including all international programs.

He explains that the public affairs mission is openly promoted to Missouri State students in Dalian, China.

"First off it is community engagement, and that is one of the three pillars of the public affairs mission. And then it is cultural competency, and then also it is in regard to ethic leadership. And so those three parts of the public affairs mission. Uh we talk about those things, and they are clearly articulated with the students in China as well."

Robinette says the 800 Chinese students attending the branch campus are taught in English and use the same textbooks and curriculum as students on the West Plaines campus.

"The classes that we offer in China, uh are the same classes that we offer here in Springfield. What we try to do, as close as we can, is...it's a U.S. a United States school system that just happens to be in China. So, air conditioning, heating, and the facilities, the audio visual material, and things that are available to the students, it much more."

Dr. Jim Baker, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Missouri State says another part of the public affairs mission is to develop educated students.

And Baker explains part of being an educated person is being aware of the significance of other cultures.

The campus in Dalian helps both Chinese and American students acquire that understanding.

"My concern is that if a kid growing up in Ava, thinks that the only competition for a job for him or her in the future is from some kid in Lebenon, Missouri, then they have a rude awakening coming. Because their competition for jobs are coming from India or from Vietnam, or from China or whatever. (:17)

So, the whole notion in my view is that you have to recognize the difference in the other countries. You don't have to accept or be comfortable with what another country does, but you do have to understand what they are doing and you try to figure out ways that you can work together with that country to do whatever your objectives are."

He says the public affair's mission isn't forced upon Chinese students who attend the branch campus.

"Its been a very good partnership, and we haven't gotten into great philosophical debates about whose system is better and all that. That is, once you start doing that, you might as well not have a partnership. We don't try to force the Chinese to become democratic and they don't try to force us to become Communistic. What we are trying to do is figure out ways to is figure out areas of commonality to try to figure out things we can work together in."

Baker says even though the two countries might have different political philosophies, it doesn't get in the way of an educational partnership.

"I think higher education is doing what higher education traditionally does and that is to prepare people to live better lives and get better jobs and so on. But you know, we don't get into the big political mix of the big issues that are taking place on trade and balances and human rights and all the other things that are out there that are big issues."

This semester, 40 Chinese students will graduate from the Missouri State campus in Dalian with a degree in General Business Administration.