Nankai University teams up with Times Higher Education, holds first THE Teaching Excellence Summit 2021 |
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Nankai University teams up with Times Higher Education, holds first THE Teaching Excellence Summit 2021

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By Yang Cheng | | Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Nankai University teamed up with Times Higher Education, one of the most authoritative education assessment organizations, to hold THE’s first Teaching Excellence Summit 2021 on Nov 16-18.

Cao Xuetao, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of Nankai University, delivers a speech at the first Times Higher Education Summit on Nov 16. [Photo/]

Cao Xuetao, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of Nankai University, delivered a speech at the summit titled “Implementation of teaching excellence at Nankai University in the new era” during the event.

His speech, taking Nankai’s practice as a model to explain Chinese leading universities’ strategy to make strides towards the world’s top-notch ranking universities, highlighted Nankai’s exploratory trails and understandings to excellent teachings.

He indicated that Nankai has upheld “Dedication to public interest, acquisition of all-round capacity and aspiration for progress with each passing day”as its motto and was the pioneer and practitioner of teaching excellence in China for more than a century.

“Nankai takes ‘knowing China and serving China’ as its mission. Through the mission, Nankai is firmly rooted in China, and Nankai always opens its arms to embrace the world,” he said.

Nankai University teamed up with Times Higher Education, to hold the first THE Teaching Excellence Summit 2021, on Nov 16-18. [Photo/]

Nankai has launched the “4211 Seeking Excellence Initiative”, including major improvements in liberal arts, science, engineering and biomedicine as well as 10 cross-disciplinary science centers and 10 international research centers in partnership with world-top universities-- as its next century’s top development agenda, in a bid to make greater contributions to higher education development in the world.

Cao explained Nankai’s understanding of teaching excellence, quality-motivated development of faculty-student shared community, its online-motivated diverse convergence media teaching platforms and global presence, during the event.

He also stressed Nankai’s educational reforms from disciplinary-oriented to student-oriented, from knowledge imparting to learning quality improving, and from centering on teaching to centering on students.

“In these ways, we expect that the students can grow up with good characters, strong innovation capacity and social responsibilities.”

In 2019, the university proposed the “Nankai 40 Regulations” to enhance teaching excellence, which also initiated the concept of a faculty-student shared community for mutual growth through faculty-student collaboration.

It has gradually completed the “8+4+X” talents selection system. To be specific, “8” means “eight programs for top students in foundational subjects”, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, economics, history, philosophy, Chinese enhancement program and Boling program (a program named under Nankai’s founder Zhang Boling to scout for top students) – “4” means “four cross-disciplinary programs”, including economics-management-law program, “comprehensive + expertise” program, PPE (philosophy-politics-economics) program, and “information security-law” dual-degree program; “X” refers to cross-disciplined international joint programs. “The “8+4+X” system is open to all freshmen and has received positive feedback,” he said.

Cao said: “Today’s world is undergoing dramatic changes that have not been seen. The previously global patterns and systems are experiencing great adjustments. The development and reform of teaching is also facing new opportunities and challenges, especially under circumstances of the global pandemic.”

To seek future development of teaching excellence, Cao said the university circle is advised to achieve “six integrations”.

They included the integration of educational philosophy and the mission of global development; the integration of teaching and information technology; the integration of curriculum development, skills enhancement, and social responsibility; the integration of scientific research with the demands of social service; the integration of international cooperation and global governance and the integration of teaching assessment and teaching quality’s function.

A total of 50 president and scholars from around 32 leading universities around 13 countries and regions delivered speeches during the events, including Carl Wieman, 2001 Nobel Prize laureate in physics and professor at Stanford University, and Gong Ke, president of World Federation of Engineering Organizations and former president of Nankai.

The summit was aimed at exploring educational technology’s role in curriculum and measuring the impact of teaching on students’ aptitude for and attitude to learning.

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at THE, said: “There have been some really unfair mischaracterizations of the university teaching that has taken place during the pandemic - and of the remote learning that will be more commonplace after our recovery.”

He expects the event, THE’s first Teaching Excellence Summit, -- the first since the pandemic changed the world forever, will help the education sector to upgrade the reforms.

“I hope that we can all harness the new-found spirit of innovation, that dynamism and resilience, that drive to ensure that our universities deliver for our students and deliver for society, even better, in a post-pandemic world,” he said.

Wieman noted that new classroom since the COVID-19 pandemic could drive new research in brain technology and new research-oriented classroom has seen.

Gong said the assessment of the student mechanism should be optimized amid online learning reforms.