Visit to World-Class Universities Contributing to High-Quality Academic Strength--Summary of ZJU's “2019 Harvard Summer Academic Training Program”


Visit to World-Class Universities Contributing to High-Quality Academic Strength

Summary of ZJU's “2019 Harvard Summer Academic Training Program”

The Harvard Summer Academic Training Program of Zhejiang University, held at Harvard University in Boston, USA from July 18, 2019 to August 2, 2019, was organized by the School of International Studies, with 15 freshmen and sophomores from different majors of 8 Schools completing all the study and academic training schedules, successfully reaching its expected goals.

On July 18, 2019, the students were engaged in different activities of academic training as soon as they arrived at Harvard University. The ambitious program boasted rich content and prominent academic features, during which students presented their brilliant performances.

I. Listening to academic lectures and seeing a world beyond

Participants attended 7 lectures by famous professors and scholars from different disciplines of Harvard University, including East Asian Studies and China (Professor Susan Greenhalgh), Psychology and Child Development Psychology (Professor Paul L. Harris), History (Professor Jane Kamensky), Politics and Leadership (Professor Barbara Kellerman), Educational Psychology and Zen Culture (Dr. Liao Cheng), Macroeconomics and Econometrics (Dr. Gregory Bruich), Data Science: Machine Learning and Mathematical Physics Modeling (Dr. David Sondak). The academic lectures with rich contents and unique insights broadened students' horizons and allowed them to experience the charm of academic research. Students prepared for each class beforehand to understand lecture topics, listened carefully, engaged in diligent thinking, question asking and active after-class discussions, as well as communicated smoothly with professors. By listening to lectures and communicating with professors, the students got a glimpse of the thinking, ideas and scientific methods of academic research at the world’s top universities, and have benefited a lot.

       II. Listening to application experience sharing and aiming higher dreams

Interspersed with the lectures were academic sharing sessions, during which students listened to practical lectures by a total of 9 senior students from Harvard University, MIT’s master and doctoral programs. Before going abroad, they were all talented students from famous domestic universities such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Chinese University of Science and Technology. They shared rich “practical” experience on the subject of applying for overseas study at world-famous universities, from pre-application preparation, application details and techniques, studying experience to academic direction and future research development, etc., comprehensively clarifying confusions of Chinese students about application and interpreting detailed issues such as application methods and focuses of different disciplines. Of course, all technical skills are just icing on the cake, and ultimately it is the academic strength that counts. Therefore, while learning practical experience, the students also received inspirational education of lofty goals and diligent work. They admired those academically sophisticated seniors, saw their own shortcomings and truly experienced the power of role models. As the saying goes, knowing one’s littleness makes one brave; seeing others’ sagacity inspires one to equal them.

In addition, to assist students in improving their academic competency and standardizing academic paper writing, Harvard staff and doctoral students also provided trainings in professional academic writing, academic paper normalization, and scientific use of modern academic aids for students, which were very useful for writing academic papers and publishing papers in international journals in the future.

       III. Engaging in academic training and drawing inspirations from others

The essence of this program is the Ad-Academic Training System, designed on international academic standards. Four Harvard University professors each gave a hot research topic in the field, while the students in teams chose one for academic research. During the lectures, they asked questions, conducted exchanges and discussions with professors face-to-face on specific academic research, and completed their academic research in teams, eventually delivering three kinds of academic research results: mid-term academic posters and defenses, final academic papers, final presentations and defenses.

In this session, the students were fully engaged, especially before the mid-term presentation and final defense. They discussed issues with professors and seniors during the day, and burnt the midnight oil with teammates at night, honing their final presentations and papers with repeated efforts even when faced with demanding tasks in a tight time. Through this academic training, students made significant progress in expanding global academic horizons, teamwork and communication. In the end, four teams among eight were awarded signed books by Harvard professors and honorary certificates of “Excellent Project Research” for their outstanding performance. Among the 15 students of four winning teams, 11 were from Zhejiang University.

       IV. Visits to cultural and educational attractions, with delight in scenery

During the breaks of academic training, organizers also arranged visits to the MIT, Yale University, United Nations Headquarters, the Harvard Houghton Library and the Natural Museum. In particular, in the company of Professor Jane Kamensky, an eminent history professor at Harvard University and a well-known historian in the US, the students visited the Harvard Houghton Library, which was in repair and usually not open to the public. Through the visits and study tours, the students not only broadened horizons, but understood and experienced American universities and social culture more multi-dimensionally.

In addition, 16 students from key universities in Beijing including Tsinghua University, Peking University and Beijing Normal University also participated in the Program. During the training, students from various schools merged to form discussion groups to promote common progress. The 15 students from ZJU demonstrated high quality and good character in all aspects, including academic training and daily activities, showing excellent demeanor and gaining recognition and praise from organizers. The two leading teachers put forward strict requirements for students at the pre-trip meeting; after arriving at Harvard University, they participated in a series of academic training activities such as lectures, experience sharing, and group discussions of students, dutifully assisting the organization, management and service of Harvard organizers and accomplishing their work excellently. Meanwhile, they benefited greatly from the entire program, with guidance for and improvement in future teaching and management.

In conclusion, the 15-day exchange visit to the world’s top universities features rich content, tight schedules and pragmatic benefits, which will surely be a highlight in the students’ academic career. 

The “Harvard Summer Academic Training Program” aims to make full use of Harvard’s top teachers and academic resources, strongest alumni resources and experience in application for overseas study, and the most advanced and effective academic training methods to provide academic guidance and training for best college students in China, so as to help outstanding Chinese students at high-level universities to expand their global visions, meet international academic standards and improve their academic competency and competitiveness for applying for top international universities. This summer academic training is the first phase of this program, with a total of 31 students from six key domestic universities including Zhejiang University, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Beijing Normal University.

This visit to Harvard is my first experience abroad. I am fortunate to have zero-distance exchanges with excellent seniors and erudite professors, to feel a different academic atmosphere, to be engaged in a complete academic research project, which benefited me a lot. In our cooperation, I have gained more friendship and determined my future development direction. I hope I can go firmly towards my goal, and be the best version of myself with this precious memory.

Zhang Linqi

This academic training program enables me to gain a lot. Not only have I listened to academic lectures by Harvard professors in disciplines, I have also experienced completely different teaching methods in the West, as well as the local customs of Boston. What impressed me most was a lecture by a professor at the Kennedy School of Government, which gave me a deeper understanding of the concept of leadership, and an in-depth experience of the teaching model at foreign universities. More importantly, I felt the motto of SIS “having a thorough knowledge of both Chinese and Western culture, studying nature in order to acquire knowledge” in a more real sense.                                      

Lin Zhiyi

This is a group of ordinary people who are rare at home, who boast unique experiences that cannot be copied, whose GPA rank among the top with easy efforts in freshman and sophomore years, whose papers or internships expand to quite a height, with amazingly high GT and overqualified capabilities for applications, who are both serious and approachable, with high IQ and high EQ. The words of ordinary people are their own self-description. I may not be able to attend such an excellent university, yet setting a high goal shall deliver no bad result.

Wang Boyi

During the fifteen-day exchange program, I have seen and felt a lot: well-learned and patient professors, excellent seniors and memorable group projects, etc. Through this short period of time, I have seen the direction for my college life, the campus life on the other side of the ocean, and different lives in the world. Whether it is the anxiety of staying up late to write a paper or the leisure during the tour, it will become my treasured memories.

Wu Hongjie

The most impressive part of my visit to Harvard lies in my vision, planning, interactive growth and motivation. Lectures, application experience and cultural infiltration provided opportunities for rethinking and reflection. I hope this project can extend its time for communication, so we can experience Harvard’s summer courses and teaching system, thereby benefiting students’ application and personal development.

Gu Ye

School of International Studies

September 20, 2019 

                                              Translated by Ni Xueqi

Edited by Xu Xueying

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