January 20, 2010

Biology Goes East

Tufts’ biology department has been tapped to help modernize curriculum and teaching at Hanoi University of Science

By Marjorie Howard

The Hanoi University of Science has chosen the biology department to help its faculty develop curriculum and improve teaching methods. Ross Feldberg, an associate professor of biology in the School of Arts and Sciences who is the Tufts liaison for the collaboration, says the Vietnamese university “sees our program as one of excellence.”

In addition to Tufts, the Hanoi university is teaming up with the chemistry department at the University of Illinois, the physics department at Brown and the environmental science department at Indiana University to modernize its curriculum.

The exchange is part of a plan directed by the Vietnam Ministry of Education to have its top universities undergo major reforms so Vietnamese students can become more competitive, says Feldberg. In addition to improving courses and teaching methods, the university is requiring faculty to teach in English. “This is something a lot of universities in Vietnam are doing because they realize English is critical for students wanting to go abroad for graduate or postgraduate work,” he says.

Several administrators from Hanoi visited Tufts last summer, meeting with members of the biology department and making arrangements for Vietnamese faculty to visit Tufts for three-month stints. Four Vietnamese biologists will come to Tufts this spring, and Feldberg says he hopes that in addition to learning more about how the biology department works, the Vietnamese faculty will be able to form research collaborations with Tufts faculty.

Feldberg traveled to Vietnam in November, when he gave a series of presentations about teaching, including a talk on curriculum and another on the student experience at Tufts.

After spending a week at Hanoi University of Science, Feldberg and his family spent another week in the country. “Hanoi is a very intense place,” he says, noting the large amount of traffic and the density of the population. “I thought Boston traffic was bad, but I’ll never complain about it again.”

To learn more about Feldberg’s time in Vietnam, check out his blog.

Marjorie Howard can be reached at marjorie.howard@tufts.edu.

Article Tools

emailE-mail printPrint