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Chinese Certificate Gives Students Edge in Global Marketplace

Chinese Language and Culture certificate provides in-depth study of one of the world’s most influential forces.

Date: 2/21/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Tom Robinette

UC ingot   It’s the Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese zodiac, and when it comes to influencing the global marketplace, the nation of 1.3 billion people wields the might of that mythical beast. Now the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences is further helping its students tap into that power through the creation of a new certificate in Chinese Language and Culture.

The proposal for the certificate received approval from the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Senate on Feb. 14. It now will be sent for approval by the Academic Coordinating Committee, which next meets March 8. If approved by the committee, the Certificate can officially be added to the University of Cincinnati’s academic offerings.

The program will parallel the already-established Japanese Language and Culture certificate and will be housed in the Department of German Studies. Katharina Gerstenberger, head of German studies, says it just makes sense to have the certificate, considering the central role internationalization plays in the university’s UC2019 strategic plan.
Professor Dennis O’Neill took this photo of the Great Wall of China during a recent visit. O’Neill helped propose the Chinese Language and Culture Certificate, which will encourage students to participate in two study-abroad exchange programs.

“Globalization is not just a buzzword, it is fact,” Gerstenberger says. “We need people who can communicate effectively across linguistic and cultural differences. The Certificate in Chinese Language and Culture teaches those skills.”

This quarter there are students studying in three levels of Chinese courses. Dennis O'Neill, associate professor and director of Asian Studies, said that since there is no baccalaureate degree in Chinese, offering the certificate in Chinese Language and Culture will validate the efforts of students who complete three years of language study.

O’Neill, who helped craft the certificate proposal, says Asian languages are particularly challenging for Westerners. The words and symbols are much different from those in English and often have little connection to how they’re spoken. Gerstenberger agrees, noting that having the certificate will allow students to document their significant academic achievement on their transcripts.

The certificate also should attract students with some familiarity with the language who want to engage the global economy after graduation as well as local business leaders who intend to forge stronger connections with the Asian work force.

“Many more students will come to UC with some level of exposure to the Chinese language in high school and possibly even grade school,” O’Neill says. “Offering the certificate is also important to the community as more companies do business with China and as more Chinese companies locate in the Cincinnati area.”

China’s significance in global affairs continues to expand, and an increasing number of high schools are offering Chinese language classes. Offering UC students a robust educational experience in Chinese language and culture is critical in helping them keep pace in an international environment.

“Students who complete the certificate will have gained significant knowledge about China that allows them to function on a high level in their interaction with Chinese people, cultural institutions, as well as businesses,” Gerstenberger says.

The certificate will consist of Chinese language courses and a range of classes on Chinese culture and society, offered in English. The certificate program will require 22 credit hours – three courses in Chinese language, the “Introduction to Chinese Culture” course and one additional elective course from among seven Chinese-related courses. Students also can participate in two study-abroad exchange programs and spend one or two semesters at Southwest University of Finance and Economics (Chengdu, China) or Guangxi University (Nanning, China). Course work completed at either school can be applied as credit toward the certificate.  

Once the certificate is established, Gerstenberger and O’Neill would like to increase enrollment, offer more classes and progress toward creating a Chinese major.

“We expect that a number of students will come to UC with advanced language skills,” Gerstenberger says. “They will want more upper-level courses, and a university like UC, with its strong commitment to internationalization, should be in a position to provide such courses.”

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