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Learning Chinese Opens Doors to Collaboration

As China’s economy continues to grow, so does the country’s scientific and technological prowess. Decades ago, the West viewed China largely as a beneficiary of its science, technology, engineering, and medical (STEM) advances. Yet over time, the East has become a hotbed of research and innovation of its own.

“Many of the great STEM breakthroughs are now occurring in China,” explains Kellee Tsai, vice dean for humanities and social sciences at the Krieger School. “It is imperative that English-speaking researchers learn to communicate with their Asian counterparts. Just as important, some Western advances have yet to reach all corners of the East, due in part to technical language barriers.”

With this in mind, the Krieger School launched Johns Hopkins–China STEM, a Chinese language program for Hopkins students, faculty members, and researchers (and similar applicants outside the university). Designed for English-speaking scholars with a strong foundation in Mandarin Chinese and training in engineering or the health sciences, the eight-week summer program will take place almost entirely in China.

Depending on whether they are enrolled in the engineering or the health sciences track, students will learn technical Chinese vocabulary associated with architectural design, transportation infrastructure, energy and the environment, rural health care, health policy and reform, nutrition, prevention and treatment of contagious diseases, and clinical practice.

“Johns Hopkins–China STEM will help to satisfy a growing demand at Hopkins and around the world for Chinese language training in technical fields,” says Tsai, who led the program’s planning process.

With support from the Henry Luce Foundation and spearheaded by faculty in the Krieger School and the Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins–China STEM aims to prepare students to engage in advanced international collaboration. “College and professional school graduates with first-rate language training in specialized areas will enter today’s transnational job market with a competitive advantage,” says the Department of History’s Tobie Meyer-Fong, one of the program’s planners.

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