Xiangrong Wang

Xiangrong Wang
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Lecturing: China's Environmental Planning, Management and Policy Implementation
Host: Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
August 2004-June 2005

I was very lucky to have been invited as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence to teach a course entitled "China's Environmental Studies, Planning and Sustainability" at both Bard College and State University of New York at New Paltz from August 2004 to June 2005. Although the academic year has passed away quickly, it has impressed me deeply as a year of wonderful experiences with friendly and cooperative Americans making me feel at home. My visit and experience in the United States was a great asset to my education and scientific research as well as giving me a better understanding of the American culture and environment.

During my grant, I had many opportunities to lecture at other universities and colleges, to attend academic conferences, and to visit both government and non-government research institutions for discussing research programs and cooperation in urban ecology and environmental protection. I also involved myself in supervising undergraduate student's papers and graduate student's thesis.

When I first started my teaching and lecture work at Bard College and SUNY at New Paltz, I found that the educational system and teaching methods in the United States are different from those at my university in China. Most American universities and colleges like to provide graduate and undergraduate students with an open learning environment in a so-called liberal education method and environment. Students and teachers can sit around a table and either can be the speaker for the topic. The students can ask questions while the teacher is lecturing and join in discussions at the end of class.

As I was teaching, I regularly traveled the 35 miles between the two campuses and was happy to do so as it gave me the opportunity to teach and exchange my experience in environmental protection and sustainability in China and Asia with students and colleagues. My course and lectures were warmly welcomed by both students and faculty. They considered my time as a Scholar-in-Residence to have opened a window to further understanding of the environmental protection, planning and management and sustainability in China and developing countries.

I was also invited to provide lectures and attend workshops and academic conferences at Vassar College; the University of Hawaii; the Departmental of Environmental Protection, NY; the EPA in NY and Albany; Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Hudsonia; Hudson River Foundation; and various power plants in NY. In addition, I visited other renowned universities, including Harvard University, MIT, Yale University, etc.

All these experiences deeply impressed me on how the United States works with environmental education and eco-environmental protection and my time in the United States will benefit my future teachings and research work in China as I share these wonderful experiences and valuable academic visits with students and colleagues. I hope my efforts will enhance the cooperation and exchange in education and scientific research with American universities and colleges.

While I was teaching, I also paid much attention to the research program on the comparative study of environmental water protection and ecological restoration between the Hudson River in New York and the Huangpu River in Shanghai. I finished a preliminary analysis on the background, current situation and management of water environment of these two rivers. The rivers have some similarities in geographic conditions, environmental dynamics and urbanization impact on environmental quality, but differ in management policy.

Beginning in the 1960s, a great deal of effort and capital has been invested in an endeavor to improve the quality of surface water in America, particularly in metropolitan areas such as New York City. The Hudson River has been at the forefront of these efforts and has benefited immensely from this campaign. Similar efforts in parts of the developing world, such as China, are beginning to gather that same momentum. Within the past decade, the Huangpu River, which flows through Shanghai, has been a target for environmental remediation. It is possible to draw parallels between the cleanup efforts involved in improving the environmental conditions of the Huangpu and Hudson Rivers. The results of a comparative study will be of great significance to the understanding of the process by which a river can be effectively cleaned and provide a base for forecasting future environmental remediation efforts in China. I hope to further develop this comparison into a cooperative program between China and America and publish some academic papers on this topic. The study will also be helpful in carrying out the key program on Ecological Restoration and Landscape Planning for Three Gorges Reservoir Area in China.

Although I already had some knowledge of environmental education and environmental protection research in the United States from my participation in the International Visitor Program in 1997 and 2000 and the International Conference on Industrial Ecology, my visit as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence has given me a better understanding of the educational system and teaching methods at American universities and colleges. The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program has also allowed me to become more familiar with the diversity in American culture, to experience the beautiful natural environment, and to greatly improve my English. I will remember this marvelous experience and the friendships that were forged forever and do my best to contribute to the enhancement of the cooperation and exchange between China and United States.

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