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School renews partnership with university in China

UNC School of Social Work Dean Jack Richman recently returned from an eight-day trip to China as part of an ongoing partnership with several international peers to share academic research and training.

Richman, who traveled to Shanghai from June 17-25, spent the first half of his trip visiting with academic leaders at East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST). The School and ECUST have renewed their joint “memorandum of understanding,” an agreement that enables the partner institutions to collaborate on research, grants and other service projects. The collaboration initially began in 2008, as China’s marketplace was growing, along with its efforts to further develop and enhance its social services system.

“Today, there is a much greater emphasis on social work education and practice there,” Richman said. “The government is beginning to recognize that social work is a profession and to hire social workers.”

During the trip, Richman also traveled to Haining in the Zhejiang Province to conduct a training workshop on family practice. About 150 practitioners from medical and children’s agencies, orphanages and other organizations attended the training.

He also met with partners at East China Normal University (ECNU) and participated in a two-day international conference on social policy, co-hosted by the University of Houston, ECUST and the Shanghai School of Social Administration. Richman spoke about evidence-based policy and the use of intervention research in developing knowledge that can impact policy.
Ongoing opportunities to learn from and collaborate with international partners are important for the School, which continues to broaden its reach around the world, Richman added. Because of these relationships with University partners, UNC has hosted several visiting scholars from ECUST and ECNU; several of UNC’s faculty members have also been visiting scholars in China.

“These relationships give us a global perspective, and they offer all of us opportunities to engage with one another, including on collaborative research,” he said. “These partnerships really create this inter-world dialog that does make a difference for what we do here.”