Jian Shi: A Professor Truthful to Original Goal of Education for 40 Years

Date:Nov 25, 2019

“Jian Shi has no time for us,” says his family. However, Professor Jian Shi is always available to his students for “every single request”. He will work one-on-one with each advisee to help them decide on a thesis and respond to their emails and text messages in earnest --- In the eyes of his students, Professor Shi is always affable and encouraging. He has never lost his temper or got angry. Being an educator, Jian Shi has been working as both a teacher and administrator for 42 years since 1977 when he became a university teacher upon graduation. He is not only a witness of the reform and development of foreign language teaching and research in the 40 years of China’s reform and opening up, but also a model of "cultivating talents and making scholars" as well as "teaching and educating people".

Keep the motherland and family in mind and undertake responsibilities “This has been the common choice of our generation.”

Chinese intellectuals have always had a strong sense of family and country. They possess keen awareness of social responsibility, think of morality and duties highly and are responsible. Jian Shi passed a national exam and was sent to study in Canada as an exchange student in 1981. At the end of 1990, he went to pursue a doctoral degree in the English Department of Lehigh University on his own expenses. After five and a half years of hard work, Jian Shi got his doctorate degree and chose to return to teach at Sichuan University without delay. This was because he knew that his country needed him, the country's foreign language teaching and research needed him, and the voracious western students needed him even more. His decision moved his two professors in the United States. They gave Jian Shi their academic collections, hoping that he could make greater contributions to education. Jian Shi returned to Sichuan University with more than 130 boxes of books. These books included the ones from his teachers and the books he bought with the money he had worked for during his study. It was his return that prompted the university council to pass the resolution to subsidize the returned teachers in the freight of books and materials and the storage fee at customs.

“I like teaching.”

Professor Shi has always attached great importance to undergraduate teaching. He loves teaching undergraduate classes and has been teaching the undergraduates for a long time. He has taught all the basic courses, elective courses and most professional courses in the English Department of the College of Foreign Languages and Culture for decades. In addition, he has offered a number of undergraduate courses and public foreign language elective courses, such as "cultural audio-visual speaking", "classic reading", "ancient Greek and Roman mythology", "American immigrant culture", "Canadian culture", "literary criticism and practice", "cultural criticism theory", "academic paper writing", etc., which are very popular among university undergraduates. Professor Shi also led the construction of the provincial excellent course “Introduction to Foreign Languages”, and won the second prize of the Ministry of Education Teaching Achievement Award, the first prize of Sichuan Teaching Achievement Award, Baoshan Steel Plant Teaching Award, Excellent Teacher Award of Sichuan University, Distinguished Teaching Award of Sichuan University, etc.

Apart from classroom teaching, Jian Shi also provides guidance and consultation for students in learning, employment, life and so on. On the two mornings each week, students can make an appointment with Professor Shi to talk about learning, thoughts, work, life and difficulties. He has written letters of recommendation and revised papers for countless students, and he treated every student as if he were his own. Sometimes he was too busy, and his colleagues and classmates advised him not to work too hard, but he always laughed it off, turning thousands of words into "I like teaching classes".

Dedicated to scientific research without any consideration for personal gains

Being an outstanding scholar, Professor Shi has made remarkable academic achievements. He has led and/or completed many key social science projects, major humanities and social science projects of both the Ministry of Education and Sichuan Province.He has also led and finished 15 international research projects such as those of the European Union. In the past five years, he has acquired for SCU an average of more than 600,000 RMB per year on scientific research, and published nearly 100 papers, and more than 10 important works.

Being president of Sichuan Foreign Language Teaching Association, Professor Shi has provided guidance of foreign language teaching in the western region over the years, committing himself to helping foreign language teachers in the western region improve their academic qualifications, teacher training, teaching reform and support in accordance to the local needs. Besides, he has vigorously participated in training and supervising foreign language volunteer teachers of China Education Association for International Exchange ( CEAIE ) in the western region. He considers academic discipline development and construction extremely important, and believes that first-class undergraduate education must be based on first-class discipline construction. When the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures applied to be accredited for a doctoral degree program in 2000, Professor Shi was the dean. He provided a good research environment for promising middle-aged and young teachers to do research, encouraging and assisting them in their research. Within two years, the College turned out a number of academic works on various topics. He then mailed those academic works, dozens of them, to over 100 scholars and experts nationwide. He wrote letters along with the books, commending the teachers for their hard work and utterly disregard of drudgery. That became the topic of the day at that time. With the joint efforts of Professor Shi and the faculties, the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures became the second college to run a doctoral program in foreign language and literature in Western China in 2002, which laid a solid foundation for the rapid development of the College.

“Foreign language teaching must serve the needs of the motherland”

"Foreign language teaching is not only to cultivate language skills, but also to serve the motherland and help to tell 'Chinese stories'," Shi said. For this reason, he proposed the training model of "reading, writing, thinking, distinguishing and creating", especially emphasizing that the students of foreign language should enhance their study of literature in order to improve their internal self-development. Professor Shi applied his teaching concept to teaching management and won the National Teaching Achievement Award, Excellent Teaching Materials Award and so forth.

"We should continue to promote the international development of Sichuan University, cultivate talents with combined skills, and tell the world about China's past, its reform and opening up, and its western development." Professor Shi said so and did just like that. Professor Shi, on behalf of the university, led the application and got approved for establishing the Center for European Studies, of the Regional and National Research Center of the Ministry of education. As director of the Center for European Studies, Sichuan University, hedelivered,on average, more than 10 keynote speeches each year at various high-end forums in universities in Europe and in China, including the excellent speeches, such as China-Europe education cooperation under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative, dialogue between China and Europe high level think tanks, and high-level forums on communication between China and Europe. In recent years, Professor Shi has sent more than 110 undergraduates and postgraduates to European universities for short-term study or for master's degree and doctoral degree. He helped more than 60 teachers to study and do research in European universities and research institutes and dozens of European students to study in Sichuan University, making great contributions to the international exchange between undergraduates and graduate students in a master’s or a doctoral program as well as between teachers.

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