Dr. Dale Tuggy gives a new Fredonia t-shirt to one of his students.
Philosophy Professor Dale Tuggy spent the summer on the other side of the globe, in China, teaching a course in critical thinking to students at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, a major university located in the bustling city of Chengdu, a center of business, culture and education.
Students in China begin to learn the English language at the middle school level, Dr. Tuggy said. “In my class, no one was a native English speaker. But the students worked very hard, and I worked hard to communicate simply and clearly, without ‘dumbing down’ the course content.
“The course went well – the students were challenged and excited to learn about critical thinking, and to practice their English with me,” he continued. “Nearly all of them excelled.”
Tuggy taught undergraduate students at SWUFE’s newer Liulin campus, whose name means “willow” and reflects the many trees adjacent to beautiful ponds. His classroom consisted of 30 students, though class sizes of more than 100 students are more typical. Not knowing the students’ first language (Mandarin) was not much of an issue in class for Tuggy.
“I learned a lot about Chinese people, culture and education. And given my scholarly and teaching interests in religions, I took the opportunity to explore a Buddhist monastery and a Daoist monastery in Chengdu, as well as an important Daoist mountain with multiple shrines which is just outside Chengdu.”
Dr. Linda Dorsten of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice pioneered Fredonia’s teaching connection with SWUFE and taught there before the new agreement was put into place.
Tuggy is the first Fredonia faculty member to teach at SWUFE, home to more than 16,000 undergraduates and 7,000 graduate students, under a formal educational agreement now in place between the two institutions. He was introduced to teaching opportunities there at a presentation that Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Terry Brown, College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Ralph Blasting, College of Education Dean Christine Givner and Mary Sasso, then director of the International Education Center, gave on their visit to several universities and high schools in four Asian countries.
“I hope that more faculty members will be able to have teaching experiences there,” Dr. Brown said. “SWUFE is especially interested in the way we teach liberal arts, and is interested in having their faculty come here and learn how our faculty teach the liberal arts.” Brown said the educational agreement also provides for the exchange of students between the two universities.
Tuggy plans to show pictures of his trip and share what he learned to students in his Eastern Thought class this fall.
“I really enjoyed teaching Chinese students,” he said. “I would like to see more Chinese students come to Fredonia, as my American students would enjoy interacting with them as well. We learn a lot about ourselves and our world by close interaction with people from a very different culture."
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