Advancing research, international partnerships

Alumni; Public Health; Social Work; Students

International social work students recently completed work in a first-of-its-kind intensive summer seminar focused on advanced research methods. The 11-day event was presented thanks to an ongoing partnership between Washington University in St. Louis and its McDonnell International Scholars Academy partner Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU). The workshop’s goal was to provide important tools for social work practitioners and researchers working in other countries, including China.

“The social work profession in China is still relatively new,” said Shenyang Guo, the Frank J. Bruno Distinguished Professor of Social Work Research at the Brown School. Guo is also assistant vice chancellor for international affairs-Greater China and a Yangtze River Scholar.

“Over the past couple of decades, many new ideas have been implemented by social work practitioners there,” Guo said. “However, there still needs to be a sharper focus on research methods, particularly as they become ready to share what they’ve learned in the field.”

More than 150 faculty members, graduate students and practitioners took part in the special advanced workshop, which began July 19 at XJTU’s campus in Xi’an, China. Students from six universities in the United Kingdom and the U.S. —  the Brown School among them — took part. The Brown School, in collaboration with XJTU, hosted the event.

Students learned from Washington University senior faculty, including Enola Proctor, the former Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor at the Brown School, who presented sessions on implementation science; Carolyn Lesorogol, professor and associate dean for global strategy and programs, who taught qualitative research methods; and Guo, who focused on quantitative research methods. Linyun Fu, manager of global programs at the Brown School, led the Teaching Assistant team comprised of Washington University alumni Jiamin Chen and Qi Chen.

“Some of the students told us this was the best workshop they’d ever had, and practitioners told us they were impressed by the amount of information we were able to impart in such a short time,” said Jin Peng, deputy director of XJTU’s Department of Sociology and a Washington University alumna.

The workshop was first discussed in October during “Washington University Day” held at XJTU. Guo said that the event served as a catalyst, which set the wheels in motion for the summer workshop, with support from Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, and Chancellor Emeritus Mark S. Wrighton. Wrighton, along with XJTU’s President Shuguo Wang, attended the workshop’s opening ceremony and gave remarks.