Chinese scholars immerse themselves in collaborations, classes at UAA

February 27, 2017

Imagine what it would be like to spend a year earning a master’s degree in one country and then, in another year, another country, earn a Master of Business Administration degree.

Four professors from Jilin University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) visitors have been in residence at UAA recently. Here, answering questions from students in one of Professor Qiujie "Angie" Zheng's classes, are Yunzhe "Karen" Liu, Xu "Sissi" Dai, Weiyang "Cynthia" Diao, and Jiyu "Tracy" Wang. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Four professors from Jilin University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) have been in residence at UAA recently. Here, answering questions from students in one of UAA Professor Qiujie “Angie” Zheng’s classes, are Yunzhe “Karen” Liu, Xu “Sissi” Dai, Weiyang “Cynthia” Diao, and Jiyu “Tracy” Wang. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

A group of Chinese professors are getting a taste of what it’s like to study, collaborate and share their insights with people in the U.S.  The four scholars are here at UAA, in residence, to deepen their respective research into the fields of experimental economics, logistics and finance.

One of those women, Jiyu “Tracy” Wang, Jilin University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) has been working with Professor Qiujie “Angie” Zheng, co-chair of UAA College of Business and Public Policy’s International Programs Committee and Professor Bogdan Hoanca, director of graduate programs, to develop an joint graduate 1+1 partnership between the two universities. Wang is about to end a 14-month stay.

UAA Chancellor Tom Case signed a memorandum of agreement for that partnership when a JUFE delegation led by JUFE Vice President Baojun Ding visited UAA in August.

UAA Professor Qiujie "Angie" Zheng speaks to her class before introducing four professors visiting UAA from China. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

UAA Professor Qiujie “Angie” Zheng speaks to her class before introducing four professors visiting UAA from China. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Now, the two universities are building a joint undergraduate 2+2 partnership that aims to bring undergraduate students from JUFE to UAA. When the agreement is concluded, the 2+2 students would do the final two years of their undergraduate degree at UAA and graduate with an undergraduate degree from both universities.

The joint master’s program is similar to a 1+1 partnership UAA built with Nankai University.

The other three women are here to collaborate with faculty and take part in an assortment of finance and economics classes, though not as formal 1+1 partnership participants. Xu “Sissi” Dai, an associate professor and postgraduate supervisor in JUFE’s college of finance, will conclude her year of study in August. Arriving in January for two-month stays, Yunzhe “Karen” Liu and Weiyang “Cynthia” Diao will return to China on March 9.

 

‘I’m very scared of blood’

Professor Xu "Sissi" Dai of Jilin University of Finance and Economics speaks to students in one of UAA Professor Qiujie "Angie" Zheng's classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Professor Xu “Sissi” Dai of Jilin University of Finance and Economics speaks to students in one of UAA Professor Qiujie “Angie” Zheng’s classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Xu “Sissi” Dai holds a finance master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics, in addition to being a researcher of JUFE’s Research Institute of Rural Finance.

She worked for the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China’s Changchun municipal branch, in its international business department, for more than seven years before working in the Jilin provincial branch of the bank as an internal auditor. She returned to the university in November 2011; she has been a lecturer for 16 years.

“My parents are both doctors,” she said of the beginning of her academic career. “The problem is, I’m very scared of blood. So I had to give it up [a medical career]. I’m really interested in children’s education and Chinese literature, but my parents said if I want to find a good job in the near future, I should work in a commercial bank. In China, most students of my age may follow their parents’ direction, advice, on selecting majors or universities. This is why I finally selected the major of finance.”

At the beginning, Dai “had no idea about finance. I just knew finance was closely related to supplying the splendid buildings of commercial banks. I had never heard of securities companies or insurance companies. After I’ve learned some knowledge about finance, I’m interested in it, especially international settlement and foreign exchange transactions.”

Professor Jiyu "Tracy" Wang of Jilin University of Finance and Economics speaks to students in one of UAA Professor Qiujie "Angie" Zheng's classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Professor Jiyu “Tracy” Wang of Jilin University of Finance and Economics has helped develop a 1+1 graduate partnership between JUFE and UAA. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Since her arrival on Aug. 27, Dai has delved into a variety of UAA’s finance offerings, including: corporate finance, personal finance, international economics, intermediate financial management, international finance, investment management, introduction to statistics for business and economics and econometrics for business and economics.

In addition to attending classes, she has been collaborating with UAA Professor John Nofsinger.

“I’d written many emails with Dr. Nofsinger,” she said. “He’s a famous professor in the field of corporate finance and behavioral finance, so I was considering whether we can start cooperative research together.”

Nofsinger asked if Dai would be interested in helping write a literature review for one chapter in his book.

And, Dai is also collaborating with UAA Professor Ajit Dayanandan on an academic article on the comparison between Chinese and Indian treasury securities markets.

“In the future, I would try to invite some finance professors to my university to improve the academic level of both of us,” she said.

 

Collaborating to make an impact

Professor Weiyang "Cynthia" Diao of Jilin University of Finance and Economics talks to students in one of UAA Professor Qiujie "Angie" Zheng's classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Professor Weiyang “Cynthia” Diao of Jilin University of Finance and Economics talks to students in one of UAA Professor Qiujie “Angie” Zheng’s classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Wang and Liu are economics professors, while Diao is interested in logistics.

“I love [Professor Darren Prokop’s] lectures, very enthusiastic, and I like his passion in the lectures,” she said. “One of his research papers is about Anchorage as the international logistics gateway to Canada, so I think I’m going to propose a project about this.”

In Jilin Province, Diao said, there’s a city that’s not as large as Anchorage, “but it has the same function, some of the same geographical position in our province. It is the gateway to both Russia and North Korea. I want to make a comparison of Anchorage and that city, Hunchun.”

Prokop says Diao has actively participated in his classes.

“She’s fascinated and interested in discussions of international trade and transportation, and how important Alaska is to that,” he said. “That seems to be a revelation to her. It’s an important piece of Alaska’s position in the world. It’s not discussed in the textbooks so she’s getting an accurate and customized view of things. Anchorage has not only a geographic advantage but an operational advantage that has yet to be fully exploited. It could someday be a hub like Memphis is for FedEx. ”

He says his goal is to help logistics students become aware of emerging trends and think strategically—imagining what will be happening and needed here 10, 20, 50 years into the future.

Prokop said Wang, too, has been engaged in his classes.

“Tracy’s been very good in looking at my new books and is interested in taking them back to China with her and having them translated,” he said, “especially my book on transportation economics that was published last year. We’d love to see it available in the Chinese language and used there. It’s great not only to see the students coming here and learning about international trade, but using scholarly output—seeing UAA as a place to get some of the latest thinking and scholarship and use it in their own classrooms in China.”

Wang and Liu both are engaged in the field of experimental economics.

Professor Yunzhe "Karen" Liu of Jilin University of Finance and Economics speaks to students in UAA Professor Qiujie "Angie" Zheng's classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Professor Yunzhe “Karen” Liu of Jilin University of Finance and Economics speaks to students in UAA Professor Qiujie “Angie” Zheng’s classes. (Photo by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)

UAA Economics Professor Paul Johnson and Economics Chair Lance Howe have visited JUFE and a neighboring university, Northeast Normal University—official partner with UAA’s Confucius Institute—to talk with students and collaborate with faculty. Zheng and Johnson also have brought groups of UAA students to China as part of a study abroad program.

“We designed everything,” Zheng said of the student visits. “We visited Chinese universities, companies and U.S. company branches in China.”

Johnson and Wang have developed a pilot international trade classroom economics experiment using a popular messaging cell-phone app, WeChat; Wang is helping test that app with Chinese students. “Using WeChat to run classroom experiments in China avoids the problem of trying to use the Internet to access online experiments, because a lot of Internet access is blocked in China,” Johnson said. “Facebook and Google are blocked in China. It’s very frustrating.”

Liu is interested in learning how to apply experimental economics to environmental emissions trading programs, and will be discussing this with UAA Professor Jim Murphy and Professor Kyle Hampton. Murphy—a Rasmuson Economics Chair—has been invited to visit Nankai University each of the past three years to teach experimental economics classes and advise the development of their experimental economics lab and program; Murphy may also visit JUFE later this year.

“My research focus is on the carbon-trading market in China—I am interested in comparing the carbon-trading markets between China and the U.S.,” Liu said. “China is aiming to balance environmental protection and rapid economic development.”

 

Written by Tracy Kalytiak, University of Alaska Anchorage

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