Fulbright Scholar from China at Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern University’s ties to China were strengthened this year when Meng Deng, professor and associate dean of the College of Education at Central China Normal University, received a Fulbright grant to study and conduct research at Georgia Southern. Dr. Deng, along with his wife and son, will spend a year in Statesboro working with faculty in the College of Education and lecturing at universities throughout the United States.
‘The focus of my research is inclusive special education,” said Deng. ‘The momentum for inclusive special education is strongest right now in the United States, so this is a great opportunity for me to learn.” For his Fulbright year, Deng holds an appointment as an adjunct professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education.
This is Deng’s third visit to the U.S., and he is comfortable in the culture and environment. Conditions for study are good, he says, and people are kind. He brought his wife and seven-year-old son along this time because he wanted them to have the intercultural experience of living outside of China.
‘China is more open now, and many Chinese go for two-week tours to Europe and the U.S.,” he said. ‘I have the privilege of traveling, and I enjoy each new place.”
Deng pointed out that education in China has been strongly influenced by the United States, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when there was an ‘open door policy” that made China open to all countries. John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, spent two years in China following World War I, and his visit resulted in a continuing influence of his ideas on modern Chinese education. Missionaries in the early 20th century created many schools in China, and even Deng’s own institution, Central China Normal University, has historical evidence of being influenced by Yale University.
Prior to this Fulbright year, Deng’s research focused on the adaptations necessary to bring special education into the regular classroom. For his Fulbright research project, ‘Meeting Special Education Needs in Mainstream Classrooms in the United States and China: A Cross-Cultural Study on Instructional Adaptations,” he will visit a variety of Georgia classrooms to observe inclusive teaching practices, gathering classroom data to be compared with teaching techniques used in China. Working with him on the project is Kymberly Harris, assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Georgia Southern.
As part of his Fulbright responsibilities, Deng will travel to other colleges and universities in the U.S. to share insights on his research and on life in China. He already has invitations from SUNY New Paltz and Rowan University, both near New York City, and he hopes to offers many seminars and talks during his year here.
‘When I talk with Americans I can see they are keen to know about China,” said Deng. ‘They don’t know much about China’s social and political system. In China it is the opposite. Chinese people know American culture and geography, and English is taught from grade three onward. Our cultures are combining fast.”
One of Deng’s goals is to develop strong ties between Central China Normal University and Georgia Southern, and he plans to host a visit by a group of Georgia Southern faculty once he returns to China.