Political Science Professor Richard Powell Travels to China on Fulbright Fellowship

Political Science Professor Richard Powell Travels to China on Fulbright Fellowship

University of Maine political science Professor Richard Powell fulfilled a long-held dream this semester.

He has been in China after being awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach American government at Zhejiang University, one of China’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education. The university is located in Hangzhou, a city of eight million, about an hour and a half south of Shanghai.

For the past five months he conducted graduate courses on mass media and elections and on congress and the presidency.

“This is a wonderful professional opportunity,” said Professor Powell, who has wanted to teach in China for a number of years.

“China is one of the most important countries on the world stage and is becoming more important every year,” he said last January before beginning his travels.

“The U.S. and China are partners in some areas and competitors in others. Our relationship is clearly one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world in terms of economics, climate change, and human rights. This fellowship will enable me to help the Chinese understand Americans better and to learn more about China and bring this information back home.”

Professor Powell taught in English which Chinese students learn at a young age.

Making his experience even more rewarding, he brought along his wife, Angela, and their three children, Rye, 14, Drew, 11, and Susannah, 9. They lived on campus in a three-bedroom apartment provided by Zhejiang University. The children attended the Hangzhou International School run by Americans for international students.

Professor Powell said he was delighted to have the opportunity to enrich the youngsters’ education and expose them to another culture and language. The family looked forward to exploring the country and to immersing themselves in daily Chinese life as much as possible, he added. Aiming to deliver guest lectures on American politics at universities around China, Professor Powell said he hoped his family could accompany him on some of those trips.

“The children are especially excited to visit Beijing to see the Great Wall as well as the Olympic venues. We also would like to travel to Hunan where we adopted our daughter in 2001.”

The UMaine professor was busy on a variety of fronts. In addition to teaching and lecturing, he researched an article he is writing on presidential communications.

“Part of what I’m doing is examining how U.S. presidents are portrayed in Chinese news media.”

Explaining to Chinese students about how our government functions and what’s unique about our culture was the focus of his teaching, according to Professor Powell.

“I want to help them understand what works in the U.S., what doesn’t work, and why we do the things we do.”

The experience will enhance his teaching here at UMaine, he said.

“We talk about China in my American politics course as it relates to foreign policy and politics. So I’m hoping to find more opportunities to involve topics about that country.”