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Agreement Brings Together East and West

by Lynnette Harris


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A recent visit to Utah State University by top administrators from National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) was an important step in solidifying efforts to create learning and research opportunities for faculty and students at both universities.

In March, a group of faculty from USU’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences (CAAS) traveled to Taiwan for a workshop hosted by NCHU and Don Wang, a CAAS alumnus who has been instrumental in connecting USU faculty and students with people and programs at universities in Taiwan. The agreement formalizes a partnership advancing research, education, and outreach in agriculture, climate, and environmental sciences.

A few students and faculty members from the two universities have already pioneered studying, teaching, and conducting research at partnering universities, the result of meetings in Utah and Taiwan over the past 3 years. Professor and State Climatologist Robert Gillies has twice taught a climate science course at NCHU and did so again in December. Two PhD students in the Plants, Soils and Climate Department have also participated in studies in Taiwan. A student from NCHU has been part of food science Professor Don McMahon’s lab, and Parichart Promchote (Noi), a climate science PhD student, has worked two summers at NCHU with Professor Yuan Shen developing crop growth models tied to climate data and Shen also participated on Promchote’s PhD committee.

White said, “This agreement and our ongoing collaborations provide outstanding learning opportunities for students at both universities. Many courses at NCHU are taught in English and giving our students experiences in Asia, especially in areas such as international agribusiness and climate science, helps them develop skills that will give them an edge in their careers.”

Janis Boettinger, vice provost and director of USU’s Office of Global Engagement, participated in the March workshop in Taiwan, and continues to work on formalizing connections and exploring possible degree programs that could be offered jointly by the two universities.

Boettinger considers NCHU an excellent destination for USU students and faculty members interested in experiencing Chinese culture because of the breadth of courses taught in English, especially in agriculture and natural resources, the beautiful and safe campus in Taichung, the friendly nature of the Taiwanese people, and the ease of travel to and within Taiwan.

Johnson said, “Both universities have very strong agriculture and natural science-related programs so it’s a great match. I appreciate the leadership the college and Don Wang have provided to help us connect. Cooperation with NCHU provides a world-opening view for our faculty and students. Looking to Taiwan offers an entry to a dynamic part of the world, one many of us don’t understand that well. It opens that door in a very approachable way. It’s also exciting to see such interest among our Aggie alumni in Taiwan! Linking with them will assist our students in terms of research opportunities, internships, and other career activities.”