The University of Delaware Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies
has signed an agreement with a leading Chinese university to bring
students to UD for their senior year and possible graduate study.
Donghua University in Shanghai has strong undergraduate and graduate
textile and fashion programs that are the largest and most highly rated
in China, said Huantian Cao, associate professor of fashion and apparel
studies at UD, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there when
the institution was named China Textile University.
Cao’s continuing contacts with Donghua inspired the idea for UD’s
initiative. He traveled to China this spring — with Belinda Orzada,
professor and director of graduate studies, and Kelly Cobb, assistant
professor, both of fashion and apparel studies — to sign the partnership
“Shanghai is trying to become a new global fashion center, joining
the club with cities like Paris and New York, and a lot of companies
have already moved there,” Cao said. “So there’s a lot of demand for
college graduates who have an international perspective in fashion.”
Under the agreement, Donghua students will come to UD for their
senior year and will be encouraged to continue in the department’s
“We hope they will also stay for a master’s,” Orzada said. “We want
to build our graduate program, and bringing potential graduate students
here a year early will give them an edge.”
UD’s fashion and apparel program offers a focus on sustainability,
which is also a growing area of interest for the industry, she said.
With companies in China seeking employees who have international
experience — and experience with U.S. culture — as well as knowledge of
sustainable manufacturing processes, the UD degree is expected to be a
significant advantage in the job market.
While UD students aren’t likely to study at Donghua, where classes
are not taught in English, they will still benefit from the partnership,
Cobb said, calling international students one of UD’s biggest assets.
“Our visiting students embody our industry and can contextualize the
global fashion industry for our domestic students, many of which have
never left the East Coast of the U.S.,” she said. “Beyond making friends
with amazingly cool, fashionably on-point, talented international
peers, our domestic students have a real opportunity to develop
intercultural competencies — a way of conducting business that is
critical to doing good fashion business.”
UD’s graduate program in fashion and apparel studies already attracts
international students, including many who have had some work
experience since earning their undergraduate degrees, Orzada said.
“We like that mix, not just of international perspectives but of
industry experience, for our students,” she said. “It gives us diversity
in our classes that benefits everyone.”
The UD faculty members will spend this academic year maintaining
contacts with faculty, advisers and students at Donghua to ensure that
those who apply for the program have strong credentials. The first
Chinese students are expected to enroll in fall 2016.
While in China, Cao, Orzada and Cobb also visited Suzhou University
and the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology to give presentations
about UD’s fashion programs and faculty research for possible future
Both schools, like Donghua, have programs in textiles and fashion,
and students could broaden their knowledge through UD’s focus on design
and merchandising, Orzada said.
“They have large programs, so there’s a lot of potential for students who are interested in studying in the U.S.,” she said.