On May 23, 2019 NNU welcomed many distinguished guests, including 12 foreign professors specializing in Geographic Sciences from prestigious universities overseas and leaders of several departments from Jiangsu Province, at its launching ceremony for the Innovation Center of the “111 Plan” for Capacity Building for Sustainable Discipline Development on Comprehensive Geographic Research. It was held in the conference hall of the Fangfei Building on the Xianlin Campus and also present were university leaders, professors from the School of Geography and other teachers’ representatives and students.
The ceremony started with the introduction of the Higher Education Institute Research Collaboration Plan, or “111 Plan” in short, presented by A-Xing Zhu, a professor from the School of Geography at NNU. He pointed out that since sustainable development is the consensus of the world, transformation to sustainability is also a goal on in scientific frontiers. “To achieve this goal, I think we have established an outstanding quality program; if you allow me to be bullish to say, probably the top in the world. We have 12 foreign members, 5 of whom are elected academy members as well as 14 domestic members and 10 of them have won national honors with their research contributions. Such a quality program, combined with our overall strategy which involves both top planning and bottom design, can drive the development of geography and related fields and serve capacity building for sustainable development on this planet.”
The perspective of the other side of the collaboration was then expressed by three representatives. R. Lawrence Edwards, a professor at the University of Minnesota said, “My mother is native to China… I have always wanted to go back to where I was born... In fact, my collaboration with Chinese scientists started here at Nanjing Normal University.” Luc Anselin, a professor at the University of Chicago expressed his expectations, “I see our role in the 111 project, not only as stimulators of research and of publishing papers, but also to enrich the curriculum that exists at Nanjing Normal University.” And Matthew Turner, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recalled that “I have had the opportunity to work with students from Nanjing Normal University, who visited Wisconsin and who have done workshops on writing scientific papers, and I’ve very much enjoyed working with them. I really hope to continue this and really looking forward to this collaboration.” The three of them all wished for a productive five years and hopefully longer.
Guoxiang Chen, president of NNU, thanked the introduction made by Prof. Zhu and the excellent speeches given by the three professors. He introduced to these distinguished guests that NNU boasts six A-level disciplines and ranks first in all the provincial universities nationwide. “Our well-known scholars of the geographic sciences have published research in famous journals such as Nature and Science. I believe their work will be more fruitful because of this collaboration and one that is on the highest level in Jiangsu Province. I look forward to the future development and our university will provide full and various support in the process. We will also take the launching of such a center as an opportunity to realize our dream of building a high-level university with international influence. I hope that there will be many good ideas and productive results coming out of this collaboration and wish you all a good time in at NNU and in Nanjing.”
Afterwards, provincial leaders delivered speeches to extend congratulations, express support and state their expectations. Xiaoping Yang, Director of the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Foreign Experts Affairs, mentioned that innovation has an important role to play in China’s development, “We need foreign expertise and technology more than ever before. The launching of this center responds to our national and provincial needs. I hope NNU can take advantage of this opportunity with careful planning and effective organization and achieve positive results to benefit the building of its first-class discipline as well as the development of Jiangsu Province and China.” Then, Chengbin Wang, Deputy Director of Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education, maintained that a platform is crucial in international collaboration, “ the ‘111 plan’ is such a platform, implemented by the National Department of Education and the National Department of Foreign Experts Affairs, and represents the highest level of discipline building. NNU should use this platform not only for conducting research, but also for training talent, and thus promoting the advancement of other disciplines as well.”
The whole ceremony was concluded with the unveiling ceremony of the Innovation Center of the “111 Plan” and the signing of the agreement by Lixin Tian, vice president of NNU and the foreign experts, with certificates presented by Prof. Chen. With this, an international partnership was formally established and the future progress and road forward are full of high expectations for all.