North Park University Professors Teach Chinese Business Students

Dr. Al Kamienski in China
Dr. Al Kamienski taught classes in strategic management this summer during his second teaching visit to China.

Two professors visit Chinese university as part of exchange agreement

CHICAGO (July 17, 2012) — Two North Park University professors each spent one month in China this summer teaching university business students and professors. Dr. Al Kamienski taught classes in strategic management and Dr. Catherine Marsh taught organizational behavior and ethics during their residencies at Anhui University of Finance and Economics in Bengbu City.

North Park University maintains bilateral cooperation agreements with five Chinese universities, including Anhui University. Those agreements established cross-cultural learning and research opportunities for students and faculty, and promote student and faculty exchange.

"I am very pleased that our relationship with Anhui University continues each year," said Dr. Wesley E. Lindahl, dean of the University's School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM) and Nils Axelson Professor of Nonprofit Management. "Having both Dr. Marsh and Dr. Kamienski teaching at Anhui this summer demonstrates the strength of our relationship. We also are planning to welcome two additional professors from Anhui this coming academic year, following the two professors that were a part of our community last year."

Marsh was in China from May 23 until she returned June 26. Chinese culture is very exam-driven, she said, and it's important that students and teachers develop critical reasoning skills to compete in the global marketplace. That's one of the reasons why the Chinese government is promoting exchanges of U.S. and Chinese faculty, said Marsh, SBNM associate professor of business and nonprofit management. "If the Chinese are going to compete, they have to do more than copy and repeat things," she said. "They have to learn to argue and think critically. They want us there to help reeducate some of the faculty to help develop a different kind of learning for the students." 

Dr. Catherine Marsh in China
Dr. Catherine Marsh was honored at a closing ceremony at Anhui University when she concluded her teaching residency.

Marsh, who lived in Japan earlier in her life, said the Chinese culture was quite different. Communication in English was not always easy, she said. "I think that the Chinese are very patient with us because they want to learn from us, Marsh said. "They know we can work together." Marsh hopes to return to Anhui University next year to teach, and wants to spend more time talking with professors and students about mutual research interests.

Kamienski, SBNM associate professor of finance, taught classes in China last year. He returned to teach for a month beginning May 14. Based on what he learned in his first experience, Kamienski said he structured his course to include more group-based activities, presentations, and simulations. "This year was much more of a group dynamic and feel," he said. "I thought it worked much better in terms of fostering student engagement, and they really seemed to thrive with that." Kamienski also lectured at a university in Shanghai while he was there, and would like to return someday.

Like many, the Chinese are committed to the next generation "having it better than they did," he said. Multiple generations of one family often live in the same household, Kamienski said, and hospitality is important. "They really take hospitality of foreigners seriously," he said. "The Chinese are always concerned about where you're at, what you're doing, who you're with, and how they can help."

Both North Park University professors want other colleagues to have the opportunity to work in China as they have had.

"I would love to see all of us do it," Marsh said. "While I was there, it became much clearer to me who I am and what I value." Especially valuable, she said, are opportunities to meet people one-on-one, and to meet them in their homes.

"This has been transforming and life-shaping for me in several ways. For any of our professors and staff, fantastic gains of friendship and culture can take place with such an experience," Kamienski said.

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Next Steps

Learn more about North Park University's bilateral cooperation agreements with Chinese universities.

Read comments from the dean of he University's School of Business and Nonprofit Management.