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Transnational approaches in materials education: far away journeys of self-discovery

Mr Gabriel Cavalli | Queen Mary University of London

Transnational approaches in materials education: far away journeys of self-discovery

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The recent opening of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Engineering School (QMES) at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) at Xi'an with 250 students in two programmes in Materials and Polymer Science and Engineering (MPSE) has provided a stimulating setting for transnational education (TNE). QMES offers newly-designed programmes taught by both QMUL and NPU staff combining approaches from both institutions with a serious commitment to student-centred learning (SCL). These programmes, taught entirely in English, incorporate English language and Personal Development Plan (PDP) modules including content designed to support the technical subjects and promote critical thinking. These skills come together in our SCL modules, central to MPSE QMUL programmes. We have mapped the entire curriculum, including the non-technical modules, for continuity and consistency, bridging an extra cultural domain (trans-disciplinary) through curricular design jointly by MPSE academics (QMUL and NPU) and English and PDP teachers. This rich environment has demonstrated to be exciting, productive and challenging in equal measure. Not the least because of the unusual opportunity for the de novo design of a program in MPSE. Interestingly, managing the successful coming together of the diverse national, discipline and institutional cultures of QMUL and NPU has required applying acute awareness of each partner's own patterns of educational approaches and practices, which, in turn, is informing practice in our own local programmes. This process has made us face and challenge our own preconceptions in the realm of teaching and learning, and navigate unexpected and unusual logistical issues. However, as a consequence, we have become more open-minded educators and better-rounded programme administrators than we were at the outset. We will present a reflective analysis on developing excellence in TNE practice, as well as discuss how to best equip yourself for a TNE journey, based on our experience at QMES.