Sweet Briar launches Women’s Leadership Program for exceptional Chinese students

Sweet Briar College Administration in China
President Stone (center) was accompanied on his trip by Nancyellen Keane, vice president and general counsel, and dean of student life Kelly Kraft-Meyer.

Sweet Briar College, in partnership with the Beijing- and Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Sustainable Development, is adding a new international program for Chinese women students. Driven in part by the Chinese government’s goal of preparing Chinese women for leadership roles in government, business, industry and education, the College’s new Women’s Leadership Program will bring highly qualified young Chinese women to Sweet Briar to study liberal arts as well as STEM.

Sweet Briar President Phillip C. Stone announced the program after a recent trip to China, where Sweet Briar and NCSD prepared to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Dongfang International Center for Education Exchange.

“While in China, I was thrilled to learn of the enormous interest in women’s college education, even though higher education dedicated solely to women is rare,” Stone said. “And there is recognition that while engineering, technology and science education is important, immersion in the humanities prepares young women for deeper, broader leadership. This will be especially important as tomorrow’s leaders navigate China’s relationship with the United States.”

President Stone talked to students at Beijing Xicheng Foreign Languages School about the value of a liberal arts education.
President Stone talked to students at Beijing Xicheng Foreign Languages School about the value of a liberal arts education.

Through the program, Chinese students will live and study at Sweet Briar’s historic 3,250-acre campus in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Home to one of only two programs at a women’s college granting an ABET-accredited engineering degree, Sweet Briar offers STEM studies as well as pre-professional programs in pre-law, pre-medicine and pre-veterinary medicine. Like all Sweet Briar students, Chinese women can major or minor in these programs and at the same time benefit from coursework in traditional liberal arts areas such as classics, creative writing, art history and dance. In total, Sweet Briar offers more than 40 programs for academic credit.

In June 2015, at the seventh U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong called on China and the U.S. to explore new possibilities for educational exchange with a focus on women.

“I believe that if we can release the full potential of ‘she power’ in China and the U.S., it will provide new impetus to … building a new type of major country relations,” she said at the event.

Sweet Briar’s partner in China, the National Center for Sustainable Development, is a 501(c)(3) founded in 2001 in Washington, D.C. The organization works in China to support U.S. technological demonstration projects in education, energy and the environment.

With its focus on sustainable development, NCSD will work in China to raise awareness of Sweet Briar’s environmental science and environmental studies programs.

President Stone speaking at event in China
President Stone presented Sweet Briar’s new Women’s Leadership Program at a special event in Beijing.

“Tomorrow’s Chinese leaders will need to make tough choices about how to balance the need of China’s vast population for economic growth and consumption of energy with global development that will affect everyone on the planet,” said NCSD President Mitchell F. Stanley.

“At every level of government and in business, women will play a greater role in that decision-making. Sweet Briar, where learning takes place on one of America’s most beautiful campuses with acres of open space, is an ideal place for international students to prepare for environmental and global leadership.”

The Women’s Leadership Program will feature two summer sessions for Chinese students at a partner university in Washington, D.C., where women will explore U.S. government institutions, governmental history and political decision-making processes — leadership elements that Sweet Briar and NCSD believe are critical to the success of a bilateral relationship. Those sessions, in addition to a summer internship, will result in the awarding of a leadership certificate with the Sweet Briar diploma.

At Sweet Briar, Chinese students will also benefit from the College’s renowned riding program, which is internationally recognized as a leader in the development of modern riding and for exceptional instruction. The program is tailored for riders of every level and offers on-campus facilities that include one of the largest indoor college arenas in the U.S., three spacious outdoor rings, seven teaching and schooling rings, and 18 miles of trails through stunning fields and woods.

For information on fall 2016 or January 2017 admissions, interested students and families can contact Women’s Leadership Program admissions coordinator Stephanie You at syou@ncsdusa.org or by phone, 86-10-6561-1089. The office is at 1711 Han Wei Plaza, No. 7 Guanghua Road, Beijing 100004.