Sweet Briar President Phillip Stone and Beijing Royal School Head of School Dr. Wang Guangfa develop strategies for sharing faculty, students, ideas

Dr. Wang Guangfa at Sweet BriarHead of Beijing Royal School Dr. Wang Guangfa traveled to Sweet Briar College to see for himself the historic 3,250 acre-campus of woods, riding trails and meadows that he learned about in China. The Beijing Royal School, the first joint venture school in Beijing, each year sends students to elite universities around the world.

“As soon as I saw a place of such beauty and such academic depth and breadth, I knew we had to work together,” Wang said of the 115-year-old liberal arts college. “Sweet Briar represents a special opportunity for young Chinese women to prepare for a life of leadership.”

In partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), Sweet Briar in March added to its international programs a women’s leadership program specifically for Chinese students. Prompted by the Chinese government’s goal of preparing Chinese women for leadership roles in government, business and education, the new Women’s Leadership Program will bring highly qualified young Chinese women to study liberal arts and STEM at Sweet Briar.

Dr. Wang Guangfa signs the guest book at the President's house.
Dr. Wang Guangfa signs the guest book at the President’s house.

Home to one of only two accredited engineering Bachelor of Science programs at a women’s college, Sweet Briar offers STEM studies as well as pre-professional programs in pre-medicine and pre-veterinary medicine. Chinese students 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. During summer sessions, Chinese students will study political leadership in Washington, D.C.

Chinese students will also benefit from Sweet Briar’s internationally renowned riding program.

After he viewed Sweet Briar’s indoor riding arena — one of the largest in the country — its 20 equestrian fields, and some of the 18 miles of riding trails, Wang said, “Even if a student has never been on a horse before, learning to ride here will make her feel powerful and confident.”

Over two days of meetings, Stone and Wang discussed plans for faculty and student exchange. Sweet Briar students and faculty will have an opportunity to study and teach in Beijing. Beijing Royal School teachers will also be able to pursue M.A.T. and M.Ed. coursework through Sweet Briar’s graduate program in education. Wang suggested this will ensure that rising seniors are aware of Sweet Briar’s Women’s Leadership Program so they can begin the application process.

Stone said, “We are delighted to forge a relationship with Beijing Royal School. Our institutions share the philosophy that excellent education with an international perspective forms a responsible global citizenry. We look forward to deepening ties to the benefit of both of our student bodies and faculty.”