2020 is so far a year packed with unfortunate events. With most of the world still recovering from the aftermath of a global pandemic, it is also the last year of program study for the 2018 doctoral students at the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development at Peking University, Beijing. The students of Class 2018 would have been able to enjoy the comfort of working on campus under close supervision and guidance of their professors, unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the tightened restrictions imposed on international travels, the majority of students had been unable to return, consequently resulting in them having insufficient access to interactive academic forums and thus expedite their research. In order to offset such impact, a series of Graduate Seminar has been introduced by the ISSCAD faculty to facilitate a continuous string of discussions between students from all over the world and professors based in Beijing, so that they could have real-time interactions and have questions answered timely regarding students' academic work.
In the afternoon of Oct 15, 2020, the very first session of the Graduate Seminar for the doctoral students of Class 2018 was successfully held in a live zoom session. More than 30 participants joined the discussion, among whom 4 were invited to take the lead on introducing the progresses on their respective work. The seminar was carried out in a professional manner, where after each student’s 10-minute introduction, questions and ideas were exchanged enthusiastically between the students and the sitting professors who later on offered detailed and directional comments. Lyu Gang, one of the Chinese students initiated the session by discussing the possibility and determinants of domestic industrial transfer with a case study of China. Hossam Ismaail from Egypt dived into the evaluation of the impact of financial technology on financial inclusion, examplifying with a case study of the Egyptian government. Bakhrom Abdukadirov, the third speaker of the session argued the impact of trade openness on industrialization in Uzbekistan, the progress of which marked significant importance to the local communities. Last but not least, Rashid Msaraka shared his analysis of why there is a constant lack of Foreign Direct Investment in his home country Tanzania, with illustrations regarding local policies, law and regulations and how the inability to learn from other developing countries may have deterred the attraction of FDI.
Professor Zha Daojiong was the chairperson of the session, encouraging questions and answers to seamlessly flow between students and professors while making sure each speaker fulfilled their allocated time slot. Professor Zhou Yongmei and Wang Yong offered academic suggestions after each presenter and generously gave thoughts on aspects including the style and format of presentation, the sources and scale of research and the overall academic structures of the theses. Questions were asked in a very straight-forward style, with weaknesses and strengths of each presentation pointed out.
It was certainly a session of knowledge sharing and it has shed lights on the hard work of these young scholars of ISSCAD during this global pandemic, a number of the students expressed their frustration over the inability to return back to campus, the frustration is mutually felt by the faculty members. Although international travelling is still challenging and there is no telling of when the controls will be loosened up, it is clear to see that the ISSCAD students kept on directing their efforts to their areas of research regardless and have all made great progresses.
The Graduate Seminars will be conducted fortnightly and more interesting content can surely be expected.