NAU attracting international scholars

Along with growth of the international student population, this school year has brought NAU’s largest group of visiting scholars. Of the visitors, 41 are Chinese and 13 scholars represent colleges and universities in other countries.

The scholars have different motivations for coming to NAU, from learning about the U.S. higher education system, improving English skills, to exploring research methods.

“Research in some other countries, including China, is very different, not as well-developed,” said Alan Lew, a professor in NAU’s department of Geography, Planning and Recreation. Lew has mentored eight of this year’s 54 visiting scholars, some of whom are helping him research in Taiwan on tourism in rural communities.

The visiting scholars have different areas of focus and their home institutions each have varying expectations.

Li Wang said she is learning a lot at NAU including ideas and skills she plans to incorporate into her teaching at China’s Anhui Normal University upon her return.

“The U.S. is a much more developed country,” said Li, referring to her country’s relatively new tourism industry. China could benefit by preserving natural habitats for tourists, added Li, who was impressed by her outdoor experiences on public lands in the southwest.

Hosting international scholars benefits NAU in several ways, said George Omwandho, assistant director at the Center for International Education.

“These visitors are an important component to the internationalization of campus,” said Omwandho, who facilitates international scholars’ visits, some who stay for one semester and others for the entire school year.

Along with assisting in research, some visiting scholars are interested in collaborating or co-authoring academic papers, a process Omwandho said brings international value to both institutions.