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Above: UW-Madison Director of theT. Douglas Price Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry James Burton (at center in blue shirt), listens to his colleagues at a conference on Bronze Age China held at the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, Anhui Province. Seated at Mr. Burton's right is UW Anthropology graduate student Tegan McGillivray.

Shanghai Seminar grants send Badgers across the China region

by Laurie Dennis

From planning new joint-research projects about Bronze Age China to showing off the design of the new School of Human Ecology building at an exhibition in Beijing to sending percussion students to perform in north China, the Shanghai Seminar program has succeeded in sending University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, researchers and students across the China region to initiate new research partnerships and strengthen existing academic connections.

“This grant program has succeeded far beyond our expectations to promote the UW-Madison brand in China and to send our faculty and students across disciplines to lead and be part of cutting-edge research collaborations,” said Wisconsin China Initiative Director Nicole Huang.  “This latest round was particularly diverse – grants were awarded to proposals from the School of Music, Department of Anthropology, College of Education, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the School of Human Ecology, fulfilling the mission of the China Initiative as a cross-campus platform.”

(The photo above right includes UW-Madison Design Professor Wei Dong -- third from right --being honored in Beijing at an international conference on sustainable design.)

The Shanghai Seminar Series was developed in conjunction with the opening of the Shanghai Innovation Office in 2012 as an opportunity for UW–Madison faculty to host seminars, workshops and conferences in Shanghai with participants from across China and beyond. The series is designed to encourage both new and ongoing scholarly collaborations between UW–Madison faculty and colleagues in East Asia. Though initial rounds of funding focused on the Shanghai region, the grant program has expanded to include a range of projects across the China region. (Click here to read about past grant winners.)

The 2014-15 round included a total of $30,000 in funding for the following projects:

  • Hefei“Cross Boundaries: The Bronze Age in China and Asia,” coordinated by James Burton, director of the UW-Madison’s T. Douglas Price Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry.  Dr. Burton worked with his colleague, Zheng-Yao Jin, professor and head of the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), to organize this conference at the Anhui Province-based USTC, an elite Chinese university. (The photo at right is of a conference poster being scrutinized at USTC.) The conference was held in September 2014 in the city of Hefei and featured key presentations by representatives of the two organizing partners along with the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.  The UW-Madison team working on this project consisted of Dr. Burton, Anthropology Professor Nam C. Kim, and Anthropology graduate student Tegan McGillivray.  Dr. Burton presented a paper about his research into how human dental enamel from a Shang Dynasty site in Anyang can reveal clues to mobility, while Ms. McGillivray presented results from her and Prof. Kim’s archaeological investigations into a site in Vietnam’s Red River Delta.  “The conference was definitely a success,” said Dr. Burton, adding that USTC has asked to hold a follow-up joint symposium in the fall.  Click here to see the USTC report on the conference.
  • Tao“The Tao of Sustainability: An International Conference and Exhibition on Sustainable Design,” coordinated by UW-Madison Design Professor Wei Dong.  This major event, attended by over 3,000 academics and professionals, was held in November 2014 at the Beijing-based Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design.  Professor Dong was part of the organizing committee and said the UW-Madison was the only American representative, and thus was able to represent the U.S. on the global stage alongside top universities.  “The Shanghai Seminar grant, through the Wisconsin China Initiative, really made it possible for me to get involved in this as a co-organizer,” he said.  “It was really an amazing global approach to sustainable design.  Every country had a different angle: Finland had a focus on furniture design, China entries emphasized how to use natural materials, etc.”  At the exhibition, Professor Dong said the UW-Madison entry, titled “Harmony of Design,” was about the new School of Human Ecology building project.
  • Sullender“Integrating Dynamics of Hydrology, Biodiversity, and People in Poyang Lake,” coordinated by Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Professor Janet Silbernagel.  This project involved pairing UW-Madison graduate student Ben Sullender with Chinese colleagues at Nanchang University to study the ecology and model habitat for critical waterbird populations under different water levels in the Poyang Lake Nature Reserve of China’s Jiangxi Province.  The project represents part of the Nelson Institute’s collaboration with the International Crane Foundation that builds on their long-term monitoring of Siberian crane populations at Poyang with future scenarios of biodiversity and human livelihoods under altered hydrological dynamics.  Grant funding allowed Mr. Sullender to attend a research meeting in Jiangxi in July 2014, and conduct field observations of waterbirds at Poyang this January (see photo above, courtesy of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology) , accompanied part of the time by Prof. Silbernagel.
  • “Percussion Ensemble Performances in Beijing and Shenyang, China,” coordinated by UW-Madison Percussion Professor Dr. Anthony Di Sanza.  Spring 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the UW-Madison Percussion Ensemble, which presented its first concert on March 5, 1965, under the direction of graduate student Jay Collins.  As a part of the celebration activities, the ensemble will perform a series of concerts in Beijing and Shenyang, China.  The Beijing concert will present music from American composers Dave Hollinden, Ivan Trevino and Julie Spencer as well as traditional music from Brazil and the Middle East.  The ensemble will then travel to Shenyang to collaborate on two concerts with the Shenyang Conservatory of Music percussion ensemble.  The first program will include repertoire performed in Beijing as well as two works drawing from the American jazz tradition, which will combine students from both ensembles.  The second concert in Shenyang will feature music of Chinese composers Ya-Wen Lien, Guo Ming, Fan Zheming and Guo Wenjing with most of the music performed in various combinations of Shenyang and UW students. As Professor Di Sanza explained, “We will work closely with our Chinese counterparts, leaning about the similarities and differences of our two cultures, with the shared goal of genuine musical expression.”  A 50th anniversary and China send-off celebration concert is scheduled for Friday, March 20, starting at 8 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall (Mosse Humanities Building).  This trip is also being funding through support from Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Graebner, the UW Division of International Studies and the UW School of Music.
  • “Lessons Learned: International Competition and Collaboration in Higher Education, Science and Technology,” coordinated by UW-Madison Education Professor Adam Nelson and Environmental Sociology Professor Daniel Kleinman.  This proposal will feature a two-day international conference in May 2015 at Peking University that will examine the interplay of international competition and collaboration in scientific knowledge production.  According to the proposal, “Setting China as the background for this project is important, not only because of China’s recent rapid pace of economic development, but also because China’s universities have become leaders in a global dialog about how the world’s next great research universities will choose to engage with the international community.”



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Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.



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