What Attracts Professors to NYU Shanghai

New York University Shanghai has just moved into its 10th year with a faculty consisting of renowned scholars and educators recruited from the world’s best research universities, including Thomas Sargent, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.

It is the third degree-granting campus of the NYU Global Network, and aims to prepare students to have visions of globalization and to be creative and competent in working on the international stage.

It attracts world-class faculty through innovative course content, flexible teaching methods, and superior academic environments and values, and is poised to become a world-class research university with multiple cultural dimensions and curricula. So why are they here?

NYU Shanghai encourages active learning and expects students to take responsibility for their education. It requires students to set ambitious learning objectives, to have a strong motivation to explore new knowledge and ideas and to go above and beyond outstanding academic achievement. Professors also value the highly motivated student body at NYU Shanghai.

Jung Hyun Moon, an assistant professor of interactive media arts from Korea, has been with NYU Shanghai since its founding. She is full of praise for the student learning environment.

“In Korea, professors devote 50% of their energy to motivating students and the remaining 50% to teaching, but at NYU Shanghai the highly motivated student body allows me to devote my full attention to teaching,” she said.

Jia Miao, an assistant professor of sociology from Hong Kong, is positive about how students provide feedback through critically reviewing and reflecting. 

“After studying and teaching in a professional field for a long time, it is easy to solidify one’s knowledge system, but NYU Shanghai students actively ask challenging and innovative questions. This in turn makes me think critically about original knowledge and continuously update it.”

Jia Miao also appreciates the academic value of nurturing students at NYU Shanghai.

“In addition to general teaching, the school pays special attention to creativity and leadership which cultivate the freedom of thought, the critical spirit, and the courage to lead cutting-edge trends.”

NYU Shanghai values content-based teaching strategies which give professors more autonomy and flexibility in the content of their courses and puts a wide scope of academic resources at their discretion.

Meng Zhang, a professor of English for Academic Purposes from China, values the flexibility of course content.

“Compared to other schools, the EAP program gives professors a great deal of flexibility, combining their own research strengths and interests within the general principles and framework, giving them a lot of room for creative design and discussion.”

Zhang teaches an EAP course on the topic of fashion consciousness. She makes the acquisition of English skills meaningful by analyzing content about feminism, the history of patriarchal societies, technological developments, and mathematical analysis of fashion.

She provides students with multidisciplinary and integrated perspectives to help them develop critical and systematic thinking.

Daniel Woody, a professor from the United States in Perspectives on Humanities, compares the different course content between NYU Shanghai and a traditional Chinese university.

“I had taught a basic academic writing course in a traditional Chinese university before, and I felt that I didn’t get a chance to teach the subjects that I was truly passionate about. These include race, immigration issues, gender identity, and also creative writing,” said the African-American.

At NYU Shanghai, he offers a writing class on the topic of race/class/border, and the autonomy and flexibility the school allows in course content lets him combine his interest in the topic with teaching English skills.

NYU Shanghai sets specific academic values to educate a new generation of global citizens. It not only pushes students to acquire practical skills but teaches them to be responsible to humanity and the world, to embrace different cultures, to be inclusive, to strive to bridge gaps created by misunderstandings, and to promote communication and cooperation for the advancement of society.

Jia Miao praises the degree of internationalization at NYU Shanghai.

“The internationalization of NYU Shanghai has a sense of integration. It’s a nexus for cultural transmission, and students take time to gain insight into different cultures to reduce international misunderstandings.”

Meng Zhang also appreciates the academic values at NYU Shanghai.

“The major goals for EAP are to broaden students’ horizons to different cultures and aspects and develop critical thinking throughout the process.”

Daniel Woody shares the same opinion on academic values.

“NYU Shanghai teaches courses that do not necessarily translate directly to professional job skills, but they’re important to understand how society functions and equip students with solid cultural foundations to address issues in China and the world, in a way that they feel they are making a difference.”

 NYU Shanghai fosters a diverse and inclusive campus environment that accommodates ethnically diverse professors and classmates. Meanwhile, many foreign professors come to NYU Shanghai to teach with a profound understanding of China’s socio-cultural environment.

“The larger question is why I came to China to teach. That was because Donald Trump was elected. I became so angry and felt unsafe,” said Woody who came to China to find tolerance.

“In all places, we suffer microaggression. But the microaggression in China for me is much easier to handle. I still feel like I’m respected as a person, whereas in the U.S., I feel often treated less than human.

“The microaggression in China is more innocent, out of curiosity. That’s much easier for me to deal with than someone who comes up to me and implies all kinds of negative stereotypes,” Woody said.

Author: Chengang Zhang

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