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Mount Allison hosts unique China-Canada university forum

Mount Allison University

Eighteen Canadian universities have come together to share best practices in liberal arts education with each other and with China

Mount Allison University will host the second annual China-Canada Liberal Arts Forum from Sept. 25-27 — the first time it has been held in Canada. Mount Allison attended the first forum a year ago in China, where an agreement was signed to encourage continued partnership and dialogue among Canadian and Chinese universities.

The two-day forum will welcome 23 Chinese university officials from 11 institutions and representatives from 18 Canadian universities, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Province of New Brunswick, and the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“This is a terrific example of how Canadian universities provide a world class education,” says Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “China wants to improve its liberal arts education to meet the requirements of an advanced knowledge economy. It’s no wonder Mount Allison was sought out for its expertise, given its stellar reputation for liberal arts education and undergraduate excellence.”

Mount Allison and other participating institutionswill share best practices in the design and delivery of liberal arts education, as well as building on the success of the last forum, which looked at establishing academic exchanges, including inviting representatives to participate in international forums, seminars, and workshops.

“This forum focuses on international education and on creating opportunities for understanding and exchange of ideas,” says Mount Allison’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell. “It allows our Canadian universities, and a number of top Chinese institutions, the uniqueopportunity to develop scholarly and institutional links that will both further collaboration and co-operation between our two countries, as well as deepen our understanding of, and commitment to, the value of a liberal arts education.”

The idea for the Liberal Arts Forum came from a meeting Campbell and Mount Allison’s vice-president international and student affairs Ron Byrne had with Zhang Xiuqin, Director-General, department of co-operation and international exchanges, Ministry of Education in China, in 2010. Alongwith other China partners, the New Brunswick government, the Canadian government’s Trade Commission in Beijing, and the AUCC — of which Campbell is a board member — the concept was transformed into a reality.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Martine Coulombe will be addressing the delegates at a formal banquet on Sept. 26.

“Post-secondary education must adapt to an increasingly global environment. That’s why our government is supportive of the collaborative efforts of the post-secondary institutions participating in this forum,” says Minister Coulombe. “Our goal as a government is to equip students, at all levels and from all backgrounds, with the skills required to succeed in a rapidly changing labour market.”

Sessions include “Why Liberal Arts Education is important to the future of Canada and China” and “Liberal arts education as career preparation — Complementary or Contradictory.”

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