Why Giving Matters

The Great Exchange

March 10, 2015

Travel can be more than a tourist experience – it can open your mind and challenge your perceptions in ways you’d never expected. That was Ishat Reza’s experience participating in the McGill/Shantou Summer Law Program, established in 2010 with a gift from the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

“This program has been one of the most enriching educational experiences I have ever had,” says Reza, BCL/LLB’11. “The combination of classroom lectures, discussions and presentations, coupled with practical visits to Chinese judicial institutions and surrounding cities, has given me a greater understanding of Chinese legal culture than I thought possible in just two weeks.”

Now, hundreds more students like Reza will be exposed to stimulating new environments thanks to a new $6.635-million gift from the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation, which will benefit the Desautels Faculty of Management, the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Arts.

The program will allow students from both McGill and Shantou University, based in the port city of Shantou in south-eastern China, to study in summer programs or over an entire semester at the partner university. It also enables faculty members to visit the partner institution to deliver lectures, present research and develop collaborations and networks. The first 25 summer students are expected from Shantou in 2014, and later that fall a group of McGill students will travel to China for a semester of studies.

“The exchange program will provide our students and faculty members with tremendous opportunities to experience academic, cultural and social life in China and to develop professional and research networks,” says Desautels Faculty of Management Professor Emine Sarigollu, who will oversee the new Li Ka Shing Program in International Business. “China is a global business powerhouse, and this initiative provides a unique opportunity to develop networks and experience life there firsthand.”

The transformative gift is launching similar programs in the Faculties of Law and Arts. The Li Ka Shing Initiative for Innovation in Legal Education will see students from both institutions benefit from semesters abroad; the funding also supports faculty exchanges and fellowships to bring graduate students and young faculty members from Shantou to study at McGill. Also included is support to create a new Professor of Practice at McGill, which would bring a leading international figure to McGill to teach students, deliver public lectures and carry out research on Asian legal cultures and comparative law.

Meanwhile, students from McGill’s and Shantou’s humanities and social sciences programs will be able to participate in summer programs or semesters abroad thanks to the Li Ka Shing Liberal Arts Exchange Initiative, which will also send a McGill faculty member to Shantou for two weeks of teaching, presenting open lectures and meeting with other researchers.

Across all three programs, it is estimated that up to 400 students from McGill and Shantou University will benefit from these exchanges within the next five years. The initiatives do indeed promise to be transformative – and not only for the immediate participants.

“The impact on our program will go beyond simply sending students to China,” says Sarigollu. “The Shantou students coming to McGill, and our students and faculty visiting China, will have a ripple effect as they share their experiences and their new perspectives. This program promises to have a profound impact on our faculty as a whole.”