The University of Florida International Center (UFIC) has awarded Zhong-Ren Peng, Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, with the International Educator of the Year Award in the Senior Faculty category. This award recognizes outstanding contributions of UF faculty and staff to the internationalization of the University of Florida, and the impact of those contributions on students, international partners, university stakeholders and/or their discipline.
How does it feel to receive the award for the University of Florida 2016 Senior Faculty International Educator of the Year?
I feel honored to be recognized for many years of international work in research, education and services. This award shows that the University of Florida values the importance of the international work that all UF faculty has been working on. I want to thank the UF administrations, from department, school, college to the University, for their support and understanding for me to conduct international work, as these work takes a lot of travel, which takes some time away from the campus. I also want to thank my family as well.
What is the extent of your international engagement and support of internationalization of UF?
Every time I show up in international meetings, conferences and organizations, it increases the visibility of UF. The research I do (e.g., the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to understand the spatiotemporal distribution of air pollutions, transportation and land use planning in China) and the short courses or workshops that I teach had real impacts on transportation and environment policies and planning practice in China. Moreover, my international research work and teaching short courses and workshops have allowed recruitment of students to the Masters and Ph.D. program at the College of Design, Construction and Planning at UF. Graduate students from UF have developed valuable research experience from the international collaborative research work.
Why is international engagement important for UF? How do you see it expanding in the future?
First, international engagement increases UF’s visibility and its international profile.
Second, International collaborative research allows UF students to expand their horizon and better understand the global environments that we are living, and offers students opportunities and valuable research experience to conduct collaborative research with foreign counterparts.
Third, international engagement and visibility helps to attract and recruit international students to the Masters and Ph.D. programs at UF.
In the future, I would like to expand from collaborative research to collaborative education. I would like to develop joint degree (undergraduate and graduate) programs between UF and top international universities. Further, we can even learn from education administration and program management experiences in the international settings.