Interview: Joint institute bridges universities in China and U.S.
by Xinhua writer Xia Lin and Wu Xiaoling
SAN FRANCISCO, March 29 (Xinhua) -- A joint institute between Tsinghua University in China and UC Berkeley in the United States has bolstered the exchange of ideas between the two countries, an education administrator said.
"We want to be a bridge that crosses nations, societies, universities and the Pacific," said Connie Chang-Hasnain, co-director of Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute (TBSI), which is jointly established by University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Tsinghua University under the support of the Shenzhen Municipal Government.
"This is a bridge that brings people from all walks of life together, exchange views and change the world," Chang-Hasnain said in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday, referring to TBSI.
The admission for TBSI is organized by Tsinghua University, with faculty from UC Berkeley involved in the selection process. The institute provides master and doctoral degrees, while students are given the chance to study at UC Berkeley for one or two years. Some students are qualified to receive master's degrees both from Tsinghua and UC Berkeley upon graduation.
Chang-Hasnain, who also serves as Associate Dean for Strategic Alliances at College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, said the institute originated from the long-term exchanges between the professors from the two universities.
Chang-Hasnain used to hold a summer school in Tsinghua University in 2007, and two years later she spent a whole year at the university during her sabbatical leave from UC Berkeley. Those experiences have enabled her to find lots of similarities between the two universities, such as adhering to the principle of seeking truth from facts, pragmatic attitudes and a strong sense of mission.
"I was thinking, why not systematize our fragmented cooperation and get the impact reaching out to more people? When I brought this idea to my colleagues at UC Berkeley, 40 professors expressed strong interest," she said.
After rounds of discussions, the idea was turned into reality. Although UC Berkeley cooperates with many other universities, TBSI is the only one that exists as a joint institute, with 23 professors from more than 10 departments participating in the program.
TBSI has three trans-discipline research centers in Environmental Science and New Energy Technology, Data Science and Information Technology, as well as Precision Medicine and Healthcare. The areas were chosen based on the consideration of bringing scholars from different backgrounds to participate in as many centers as possible, and solving world-class problems in technology and societal development.
Chang-Hasnain said UC Berkeley has benefited a lot through its partnership with Tsinghua University over the past several years that extends far beyond research and education.
"It's like we are an atom at the beginning, then it became molecules," said Chang-Hasnain. "With multiple molecules, we became various substances, which means we are able to do lots of things."