Under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, the ‘International Forum on Cultivation towards Talented Undergraduates’ organized by Zhiyuan College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University is held on May 31, 2019. Over 100 experts and representatives from domestic and overseas renowned universities such as University of California, Peking University, Tsinghua University, National University of Singapore and University of Michigan attended the forum. The topic of the forum is cultivation towards talented undergraduates, aiming to discover the cultivation and development of future talents. The forum is jointly hosted by Professor Junliang Zhang, the Executive Deputy Dean of Zhiyuan College, Professor Shouhua Zhu, Deputy Minister, Department of Academic Affairs, Peking University, Professor Jun Xu, Director, Department of Academic Affairs, Nanjing University.
Lifeng Xi, the Vice President of Shanghai Jiaotong University, attended the opening ceremony and delivered a welcoming speech. He mentioned that the world is in an era of great development and change. A new wave of scientific and technological revolution and industrial change is coming, and people’s production, life, learning and thinking will undergo tremendous changes. Education determines the present and future of mankind. Top-notch talents are at the top of the talent pyramid, and they are an important force for the development of science and technology and human progress. At present, Shanghai Jiaotong University is exploring and advancing on the road of establishing world-class universities, thus shall reexamine the cultivation and development of top-notch talents; explore the g cultivation mode of top-notch talents in the new era with the mentality of mutual tolerance, respect for differences, pluralistic development and win-win cooperation; and make due contributions to promote global common prosperity and the well-being of all mankind. Finally, he wished the conference a complete success. In the morning sessions, invited experts presented in-depth reports on their respective research fields and professional perspectives, focusing on the topic of training top-notch talents in the new era and at a new height.
Tongshan Chang, Director of Research and Academic Planning, the Office of the President, the University of California, describes his ideas on the path of training top-notch undergraduates from his own growing experience. He believes that strengthening the cultivation of comprehensive quality and core competence of top-notch talents not only affects the definition of top-notch talents, but also has a guiding effect on the overall education of universities, as well as on the training mode of basic education.
Jeffrey S. Lehman, the President of New York University in Shanghai and Former President of Cornell University, emphasized the importance of cultivating students’ ability in respecting and understanding different cultures, and of enhancing students’ ability to communicate with people from different cultural and language backgrounds. The report provides new perspectives for the training of talents for the audiences.
John E. Hopcroft, Turing Award winner, Foreign Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and professor of Cornell University, gives suggestions on construction towards the faculty team, teaching methods, evaluation and atmosphere. He concluded by emphasizing that the information revolution is accelerating. As a rapidly developing country, it is necessary for China to raise the attention of talents in the field of Information Science and train more top-notch talents to enter the field of Information Science.
Joaquim P. Nassar, Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Department, the Ministry of Higher Education of France, briefly introduced the training model and system of higher education in France. Also, he proposed methods on how to train students with international competitiveness and vision, and proposed CTI project for higher education in France. In the end, he showed the recent educational achievements of the ParisTech, Shanghai Jiaotong University, and hoped to further promote Sino-French educational exchanges.
Chorng-Haur Sow, Dean of Department of Physics, National University of Singapore (NUS), introduced in detail the talent training model of the University from seven aspects. He emphasized that teaching activities should be student-centered. Therefore, classroom activities should involve more students in order to improve their participation.
Ramon A. Wyss, the Former Vice President of the Royal Swedish Institute of Technology, mentioned the educational concept of “Challenge-driven Education”, specifically, talent training needs to leave the so-called “comfort zone” and accept greater challenges. In addition, he also mentioned that the relevance between the challenge-driven talent training model and students’ future career environment can not only give students strong motivation, produce adequate social benefits, but also achieve positive personal social influences.
Brain P. Coppola, Associate Chair for Educational Development and Practice, Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, put forward his own views on the selection and appraisal of outstanding talents. He believed that the selection of talents in higher education shall change from “excellent learners” to “future creators”, with a focus on testing the students’ abilities on critical thinking, taking challenges and solving problems. He specifically emphasized the importance of mastering concepts, developing new learning techniques and fostering students’ life values.
Hongwei Wang, Dean of the School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, introduced on how to cultivate modern Life Sciences talents in China under the theme of “new challenges, new demands” framework. He also pointed out that in the new era, new media has played an irreplaceable role in various teaching activities. Educators should actively follow the trend of the times and apply a variety of new media means to achieve the goal of efficient teaching.
Junliang Zhang, the Executive Deputy Dean of Zhiyuan College, Shanghai JiaoTong University, explores the cultivation of top-notch innovative talents driven by curiosity, which leads to many challenges facing human development and national revitalization. He also pointed out that students should be encouraged to constantly challenge the major scientific and technological problems of “focusing on the frontiers of world’s Science and Technology development and the major strategic needs of the country”, so that they can gain self-confidence and happiness in the pursuit of scientific dreams. Educators shall endeavor to cultivate students’ persistence, strong curiosity and aspiration to build a whole person, so that they could contribute their efforts and knowledge to the development of mankind worldwide.
After a short break, the experts attended the forum discussed intensively on how to improve the teaching level of teachers, especially young teachers; whether top-notch talents should be fostered in captivity or free-styled training; how to balance the proportion of teaching and scientific research in talent training programs; and how to view the ranking of university students’ achievements. They believe that the current situation of higher education determines that both teaching and scientific research must be paid equal attention to, and universities can no longer take the level of scientific research as the sole criterion to measure the value of teachers. At the same time, schools shall set up corresponding teaching activity centers and adopt the tutorial system to help new teachers to familiarize themselves with the teaching environment and master the teaching skills so as to cultivate excellent teaching talents. Regarding the ranking of achievements, experts believe that academic achievements cannot determine whether a student is excellent or not, thus the students shall be viewed and trained from a comprehensive and multi-level perspective.
At the end of the meeting, Xuemin Xu, Vice President of Shanghai Jiaotong University and Dean of Zhiyuan College, made a concluding speech. She said that the essence of education is to promote social progress. In the era of information explosion, only imparting knowledge to the students cannot benefit them in the long run. Only self-learning individuals can become the pillars of the future world. She pointed out that education is a global and eternal topic. Universities must adopt an open and inclusive attitude, cooperate and share, respect each other, and work together to cultivate outstanding talents who can embrace the whole world, meet future challenges and change human destiny. Finally, she expressed her sincere appreciation towards all the experts and representatives who have attended the forum. Representatives such as Jingyi Wu, the Director of Academic Affiars, Mei Hong, Secretary of the General Party Branch Committee of Zhiyuan College, together with heads from relevant schools and colleges of SJTU also attended the event.