Integrating Research and Teaching: Next Steps Towards Realizing a World-Class Research and Teaching Platform at UCAS
School of Physics

On December 21st-22nd 2012 in Yanqing County, Beijing, the UCAS School of Physics held a discussion meeting on “Integrating Research and Teaching”, attended by leaders from the Bureau of Basic Sciences CAS and physics-related CAS Institutes, administrators and teaching staff from the School of Physics – a total of almost 50 people. The aim of the meeting was to consider the further implementation of the UCAS core philosophy: “Integration of research and teaching, education as foundation, collaborative innovation, serving the country”. The participants discussed seriously how to build on the platform presented by UCAS to realize the sharing of resources between UCAS and the CAS Institutes, leading to shared benefits and shared development. In sharp contrast to the freezing Beijing winter outside the conference room windows, the atmosphere in the meetings was warm and cordial, with all discussions held in extremely good spirits. The meeting was chaired by Prof. Gao Hongjun, Member of the Chinese Academy of Science, and School of Physics Executive Dean Prof. Ni Mingjiu. Prof. Gao emphasised the importance of “Integrating Research and Teaching”, and proposed, in accordance with CAS President Bai Chunli’s instructions, to consider this integration should be practically achieved.

Huang Min, Vice-Director of the Bureau of Basic Sciences CAS, gave some words of guidance. Director Huang first pointed out that the Basic Research Division occupies an important position at a national level. Physics is an important and highly fruitful branch of fundamental research for which the CAS holds high hopes; the fundamental disciplines are a key part of the national strategy for innovation. She then showed how the overall design for future fundamental research administration will emphasise frontline innovation, transformative technologies and industrial demonstration, including pilot projects, large-scale facilities, plans for stable support for young scientists, internationalization of research, and so on. She also expressed her hope that teaching staff from the School of Physics would have more opportunities to participate in large-scale CAS projects.  Finally, she expressed her confidence in the future prospects of physics in China.

UCAS Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Su Gang, thanked the leaders and Institute representatives present for their advice and suggestions. Prof. Su explained how, following the change of name to UCAS in June 2012, the university is now eligible to participate in national Education Bureau programmes such as the “Chang Jiang Scholars” professorships, national scholarships and the National Distinguished Teacher awards; these are also now available to CAS Institute staff who are involved in teaching. UCAS should in future aim not only to be one of the top universities in China, but among the top universities internationally; this can only be achieved with all the research institutes working together. He encouraged the UCAS teaching staff to work together with the appropriate Institutes to achieve integration of resources and development.

A number of participants then gave their suggestions on how to integrate research and teaching, development of the teaching team, teaching resources and funding, curriculum development and so on. These included: Party Secretary Zhao Hongwei from the Institute of Modern Physics, Lanzhou; Vice-Director Zhao Gang from the National Astronomical Observatory; Vice-Director Dai Lanhong from the Institute of Mechanics; Vice-Director Chen Xiaosong from the Institute of Theoretical Physics; Vice-Chairman Ji Yang from the Institute of Semiconductors State Key Laboratory; and Vice-Chairman Huai Xiulan from the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics Academic Degrees Committee. More detailed discussion then followed on specific topics including the new campus at Huairou, student management, and so on. Representatives from the School of Physics teaching staff then shared their views on student management, curriculum development and so on. Throughout the discussion, Prof. Su and Prof. Gao shared their responses to the concerns raised and explained various aspects of UCAS management.

Prof. Gao, in his summary of the discussion, cordially called on all present to consider themselves as part of one family. He encouraged everyone to preserve and build on the good traditions which already exist; further, to have a yet higher vision, to attract more elite team members to this great platform, embodying the best values of teaching and research. Furthermore, Prof. Gao expressed his hope that everyone would work wholeheartedly towards integration of research and teaching within the discipline of physics, based on the UCAS core philosophy, to develop a world-class physics research platform.

Through this short but intense time of discussion, meeting participants felt that integration of research and teaching is not only imperative – it is also feasible. The School of Physics is like a high-speed train, carrying the hopes of the School and of the various Institutes; this discussion meeting fired up the engine and put the train on the right track towards a world-class future.