Being a Visiting Professor in China

Being a Visiting Professor in China

Ann Morrison served as a visiting fellow in the Tsinghua Business Journalism Program in spring 2008 with her husband, Donald Morrison, former editor of Time Europe and Time Asia. Don taught a course in narrative journalism and conducted professional training seminars for working Chinese journalists; Ann’s role in the program is detailed in the article that accompanies this sidebar.

Tsinghua University was founded in 1911 as a prep school for students the government planned to send to the United States for further study. It is located in northwest Beijing on the grounds of imperial gardens from the Qing Dynasty, and the Wanquan River runs through it.

The Morrisons shared a two-bedroom campus apartment for international faculty and students that Ann says was “very comfortable by Chinese standards.” It had a sitting room with a television and good Internet access but no kitchen. Ann says that not having a kitchen was a “bit of a challenge” but not a serious problem, since there are more than twenty restaurants on campus. To get around Tsinghua, Ann and Don rode bicycles.

Ann says they did not socialize much with students outside class, but they enjoyed the occasional lunch or dinner with journalism school faculty. Talk centered on students, the curriculum, best journalism practices, and current events, especially the U.S. elections. “The Chinese faculty want to know about us and our traditions,” Ann says.

More formally, the Morrisons were asked to give presentations with journalism school faculty. They also attended journalism school faculty meetings, which Ann says were structured mainly to permit the dean to impart information to faculty about issues such as program funding, enrollment, and new research.

In their free time, the Morrisons focused on sites outside Beijing. “We knew Beijing pretty well before we started teaching at Tsinghua,” Ann explains. The couple enjoyed visiting temples at a distance from the city and traveled to Yunnan Province in southern China for a long holiday weekend. They also attended conferences in Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Ann says she and her husband had a “terrific” time teaching in the program and have offered to return.


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