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China Seminar

Christine Boyle – China Seminar Series

January 30, 2014
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On Thursday afternoon at 4pm in Upper Perreault Hall, Fuller labs, water expert Christine Boyle brings her knowledge of China to WPI as part of this year’s China Seminar Series.

In her talk, “China’s Water Security through 2030: Addressing Crisis and Mitigating Climate Change,” Boyle will address the causes of and potential solutions for China’s water shortage.

Her visit is part of the ongoing China initiative at WPI, an approach across departments to help make WPI “more global and international in scope,” says HUA professor Jennifer Rudolph, whose field is modern Chinese political history. “Not all students go overseas – 50 percent stay on campus. The China initiative brings more perspective to campus through events that focus on China.”

“We live in a global economy and we need to prepare our students for it.”

The seminar series began with a Business and International Education Program grant and is now supported by a grant from the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program, both under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Education.

Rudolph and School of Business professor Amy Zeng have taken turns serving as either principal or co-investigator on the grants, along with HUA professor Jennifer DeWinter and ME professor Kevin Rong.

Previous seminar speakers have included an architect from Yale who spoke about building in China, as well as a panel on solar design tied into WPI’s participation in the solar decathlon in China. Students have visited Yin Yu Tang, the Chinese merchant’s home at the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem. This spring, a field trip will focus on the Chinese diaspora in Boston’s Chinatown, in conjunction with a relevant speaker.

The grant also supports an accompanying film series. “Hero” will be shown February 4, and three other films will follow later in the year.

Rudolph emphasizes the importance of exposing American students to Chinese culture, science, and politics as well as bringing them together with WPI’s many Chinese students.

“China is the elephant in the room in terms of competition with the U.S., resource consumption, and climate change—and competition with our students when they graduate,” she says. “This is a way for American and Chinese students to connect through fun kinds of activities.”

Xiang Li, a first year graduate student in the Business School who is the administrative assistant for the China initiative, notes that “we live in a global economy and we need to prepare our students for it. China may be a land of more opportunity for the U.S. students. Since China plays an essential role in the global issues, it is important for our students to know more about China.”

Water is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity across the globe, and China is on the verge of an extreme shortage, exacerbated by population growth and climate change. For more than a decade, Christine Boyle has focused on water resource decision-support analyses in conjunction with the private and public sector in the United States and China.

Christine Boyle is “very dynamic and an up and coming person in the water field,” says Rudolph. Moreover, she exemplifies “the theory and practice approach that WPI so values.”

By Laura Porter