After a series of delays due to pandemic restrictions, Attallah College’s Ph.D. in Education program is thrilled to welcome 10 students from its second cohort with Shanghai Normal University (SNU) for the 2023 spring semester.

“The program provides a rich learning experience for our international colleagues in Shanghai, China, as they pursue a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in leadership studies,” shares Dr. Doug Havard, Program Coordinator, Chapman-SNU Ph.D. in Education.

“Our students are faculty members from various private universities throughout the Shanghai region, looking to expand their research knowledge and leadership practice through this program.”

A Story of Perseverance

In 2018, Chapman University first partnered with SNU, a top-ranked university in Shanghai, China, for a three-year pilot program. Soon after, the first cohort arrived at Chapman and received a full experience of California and Attallah College’s Ph.D. in Education curriculum, including visiting K-12 schools near the university and attending a research trip to northern California.

After the first cohort of SNU students returned to Shanghai to continue their studies from home, Attallah College Ph.D. faculty members began taking trips to SNU to lead two-week intensive courses in September 2019. While Chapman faculty planned to return to SNU regularly to support the students in person, after January 2020, this was halted due to the world pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions.

Instead, Dr. Dawn Hunter, Professor of Education, and Attallah College doctoral advisors stayed in constant contact and supported SNU students’ dissertations remotely.

“It’s been fantastic. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Chapman-SNU partnership since the first cohort, and the only challenge has been the pandemic,” says Dr. Hunter. “Due to travel restrictions, SNU students started their on-campus experience late. However, our SNU students were committed to learning and advancing despite setbacks. They’re models in that way for our students.”

SNU Students at Fletcher Elementary

Advancing Educational Practices 

Dr. Doug Havard, Program Coordinator, Chapman-SNU Ph.D. in Education, believes the Chapman SNU international exchange will have long-term benefits. “Beyond the coursework, which mirrors that of our domestic Ph.D. in Education program, students have the opportunity to collaborate on research projects and present at national conferences/local symposia, network with former cohorts and local university students, and experience a variety of social-cultural activities with staff and faculty.”

For these reasons, Chapman was excited when the partnership with SNU continued in 2020 with a second cohort, and to have finally welcomed the students to campus for in-person classes during the 2023 spring semester.  

SNU students have started to visit neighboring K-12 schools, including Orange Unified School District’s (OUSD) Fletcher Elementary School, where they learned about their Mandarin immersion program. The SNU students will attend two conferences in Chicago: the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the Chinese American Educational Research and Development Association (CAERDA). Eight students will present their work at the conferences and interact with educators across the U.S.

Attallah College is thrilled to have the second cohort on track for graduation, and these SNU students are planning to graduate in May 2024.