Monday Minute, September 27, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Last week I was in Shanghai, China, for a college advisory board meeting hosted by one of our board members, XiaoWei Ma (MLA, 1998). While I was there, I met with the deans and faculty at two universities interested in partnering with us: Donghua University's Fashion, Art Design Institute and Tongji University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Both universities already partner with a wide range of institutions around the world, but as I spoke with their respective deans, Keling Li at Donghua, and Zhiqiang Wu at Tongji, it became clear that what we have to offer differs from that of virtually every other institution they work with: the research of our faculty. As I described the research and scholarship we have underway here, from wearable technology and world heritage to transformative materials, digital fabrication, and public health, I could see their understanding of what sets Minnesota apart and their interest in working with us grow by the minute.

It remains up to individual faculty if, or how much, you want to work with colleagues in China on issues of relevance to you, but I will do what I can to help you make those connections if interested. I have no doubt that China has already become a major player in our fields and one of the most dynamic -- and at times, hair-raising -- places on the planet.

To get a taste of that, I urge you to visit the upcoming exhibit at the Goldstein Museum of Design, Mao to Now: Chinese Fashion from 1949 to the Present. Curated by and based on the recent book by JuanJuan Wu (Retail Merchandising), Chinese Fashion: From Mao to Now, the show (and a related symposium in McNeal Hall on October 2-3, 2010), will convey the extent of changes that have occurred in China since the time of Mao and the degree to which that country has become a center of activity, not just in clothing design, but in all of our other disciplines as well.