Fudan University to launch 100 AI courses, to drive innovation in industrial application
Published: Jun 05, 2024 08:33 PM
View of a gate of Fudan University in Shanghai. Photo: IC

View of a gate of Fudan University in Shanghai. Photo: IC

Artificial intelligence (AI) education in China has been flourishing. Starting from September this year, Shanghai-based Fudan University will launch at least 100 AI courses during the upcoming academic year, with no less than 60 courses being offered in the fall semester of this year alone. 

The innovate initiative aligns with the educational authorities' plan to enhance digital literacy nationwide, as well as with the country's AI development goals to cultivate AI talents that will drive innovation and growth across emerging industries.

"We are not establishing an artificial intelligence institute, but mobilizing all students to aim at the construction of a scientific intelligence innovation ecosystem," Chen Yan, Executive Vice Dean of the Graduate School of Fudan University, was quoted by media as saying that starting from the freshmen, the study plans for each degree program will clearly specify the requirements for cultivating AI literacy and capabilities. According to its official website, Fudan University has 15,303 undergraduate and 36,690 graduate students. 

The scheme is to allow students to actively adapt to the widespread future use of scientific intelligence. Although it is difficult to predict how many industries will be related to AI in the future, what can be told is that mastering AI will lead students to better growth and success, according to a Fudan University statement published online. 

A number of universities, along with multiple government departments including the Ministry of Education, have implemented an action plan to enhance digital literacy and skills. This collaborative approach is designed to establish a more extensive system for developing digital literacy and skills, promoting digital competency in schools, and advancing the digital economy.

The research and development of AI is not only related to digital literacy, but also the major issues of human survival and development, Xiao Yanghua, a computer science professor from Fudan University, also director of Shanghai Key Laboratory of Data Science, told the Global Times when explaining the importance of integrating AI into university curriculum from a broad point of view.

We have never felt such a huge impact of AI on our understanding of "people and society" as we do today. AI doesn't just bring tools, but major opportunities to reshape traditional humanities, thus the integration of AI into various other curriculums is essential to redefine our education in this new era, Xiao further said.

Echoed Xiao, Zhu Rongsheng, an expert from Tsinghua University's Center for International Security and Strategy, told the Global Times that not only universities have been making efforts to integrate AI into their daily curriculums, but also the schools. Nurturing AI talent firstly is about equipping them with the most advanced technology and allowing them to be adapt to the fast-changing AI era when they walk out of campus, more importantly, is planting seeds for technological breakthroughs that will benefit the country's AI industrial development in the long term.

Earlier in February, Nanjing University announced a pioneering move, launching an AI general curriculum aimed at fostering AI literacy among all new students. Its curriculum is structured around a compulsory AI core course, supplemented by a series of AI literacy courses and interdisciplinary courses that deeply integrate AI with various academic disciplines.  

Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications also announced recently that all undergraduate freshmen entering this year will receive general education training in AI, with mandatory courses such as introduction to AI, introduction to computing, and design thinking.

Based on the AI education at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fudan AI classes will launch AI-Basic Courses, AI-Essential Courses, AI-Subject Courses and AI-Thematic Courses targeting the vertical application of AI.

The goal for the professional AI essential courses is to cultivate top innovative talent in the field of AI, and studying this course requires a professional foundation in artificial intelligence. Currently, 64 teaching professors have been recruited from more than 10 colleges and research institutes across the university. Also, in September of this year, at least 10 AI-Thematic Courses with industrial application scenarios will be launched, according to PLA daily.