Soar like a dragon and leap like a tiger, together we race the future

December 22, 2023

Soar like a dragon and leap like a tiger, together we race the future

XJTLU Executive President Professor Youmin Xi’s Christmas, New Year and Spring Festival speech


Dear colleagues, students, parents, and friends,

Image produced  by Dall-E Tech + Human Idea

This is a letter rich in images, text, video and sound. It includes a greeting card created through human-AI collaboration, a piece of classical symphony music, and a segment of interactive virtual-reality video to celebrate the fruitful year of 2023 and usher in the eagerly awaited 2024.

Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125

The first movement: a symphony of diversity

2023 at XJTLU was splendidly vibrant, thanks to its diversity. The return of about 300 international students, the arrival of nearly 400 new international students, and the addition of more than 400 new staff members from 29 countries worldwide have broadened and deepened XJTLU's connections around the world, enriching its diversified cultural landscape. A myriad of global educational forums and activities continuously emerged, outlining the future of universities and education under a multicultural framework. Events like the MEGA International Creative Media Festival, the Global Entrepreneur Dream-Chasers Competition, and exhibitions across academic disciplines allowed us to see limitless possibilities through a prism of diversity. The vitality of XJTLU's staff and students shone on various global stages, whether in research, teaching, entrepreneurship, exhibitions, sports, or groups of graduates going on to study at top institutions. These events, actions and activities allowed us to witness the charm of diversity and feel the power to influence the world.

Five years ago, we proposed the concept of a "Learning Mall". Today, the “physical mall" has been established in the main building of the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) campus, illuminating the E-Loop learning community. The "online mall", amidst the formidable challenges of the past three years, has forged ahead and flourished. Praised by UNESCO-ICHEI for its pioneering role in digitalisation and lifelong learning in global higher education, the Learning Mall has shown us a brilliant future of virtual-reality integration and diversified symbiosis.

The second movement: a duet of freedom and rules

Freedom and rules should not be seen as opposites on a seesaw; good rules should act like a trellis, supporting and guiding the growth of freedom.

In 2023, generative artificial intelligence would inevitably become a key term. XJTLU has always been committed to providing students with ample freedom to explore and has embraced new technologies with an open mindset. The XJTLU AI platform, JunMou, has been fully launched to our community. Looking to the future, will advanced technologies like AI and robotics create more freedom for humanity or shackle our thinking? The pros and cons are like the two sides of a coin. Which side it lands on depends on how wisely humans “dance” with AI.

For individuals, the integration of diverse cultures broadens perspectives and deepens understanding. If one also masters higher-order thinking skills like research-led and critical thinking, it's possible to avoid becoming "lost" in interactions with AI. Furthermore, leveraging diverse educational resources and multi-dimensional platforms to enhance self-management and lifelong learning skills can stimulate one's imagination in the "human-AI integration," unleashing greater innovative potential. Thus, a "Syntegrative Intelligence" that blends Eastern and Western cultures and human-digital creativity (based on data and large-model computations) will help us upgrade ourselves with the aid of AI, exploring the endless possibilities of the future more efficiently and freely.

For organisations, it’s crucial to build multiple networks, integrate global resources, create ecosystems around their vision and mission, and establish robust support systems and advanced cultures. Then, to provide guidance towards how to wisely "lead" AI, organisations can strategically plan and establish rules, addressing the redefinition of literacy and competency for talents in the digital age, adjustments to education system roles, the reshaping of training processes and methods, and the upgrading of assessment mechanisms. This approach offers a "trellis" for nurturing innovation and a platform for unleashing the benefits of ecosystems.

The third movement: a lyric of innovation

Under the collective efforts of all staff and students, and with strong support from various sectors of society, XJTLU has achieved steady and significant development. The 1.0 educational model, refined over more than a decade, has yielded remarkable results. Our schools have continuously made innovative breakthroughs in teaching and research. In 2023, XJTLU's Department of Health and Environmental Sciences became the fourth discipline, following Engineering, Computer Science, and Social Sciences, to enter the top 1% of the world in the Essential Science Indicators (ESI) database. Interdisciplinary explorations like the ongoing development of  our Advanced Materials Research Center has demonstrated the power of collaborative innovation. Under the 2.0 educational model, the first cohort of undergraduate students from XJTLU’s Entrepreneur College (Taicang) set sail for the future in 2023. Meanwhile, various industry schools took this opportunity to conduct comprehensive reviews and strategic deployments, heralding a promising future. The industrial innovation platforms established under the 3.0 educational model have provided more opportunities for interdisciplinary cooperation among different educational models, such as the launch of the XJTLU-Baidu AI Innovation Alliance, further broadening XJTLU’s integration of resources and expanding its services to society. The establishment of the College of Industry-Entrepreneurs will further promote XJTLU's integration into and creation of more industrial ecosystems, allowing us once again to witness how XJTLU turns "impossible" into "I'm possible".

The fourth movement: an ode to trust

Driven by the mission to lead the future of education, XJTLU’s strategic development blueprint is continually evolving. Guided by principles and rules inherent in its descriptors ‒ "future-oriented, research-led, digital intelligence-enhanced, and iterative innovation" ‒ XJTLU has balanced rapid growth with sustainable development, while maximally preserving the soil for free exploration and providing nourishment for bold innovation. Collaborative efforts are key to continual breakthroughs and disruptive innovations; trust, accumulated through striving together, nurtures and upgrades our diverse environment. This is the essence of XJTLU’s value.

As XJTLU’s footprint expands and its community grows stronger, each member's role becomes increasingly significant. Our belief guides us through chaos towards the light of the future; our wisdom in facing challenges makes us a vibrant and creative international university; our bold innovation and continuous efforts shape XJTLU into a harmonious, inclusive community; and our expectations for the University transform work beyond duty into a source of value creation and a sense of achievement.

XJTLU continuation: visions of tomorrow

2024 is destined to be another year of innovation for XJTLU. Building on its international foundations, XJTLU is set to embark on the exploration of globalisation, continuously expanding its educational influence. Seizing the opportunities of the digital age, XJTLU will proactively construct the X-Eco Mall, providing a robust digital support system for the digital transformation and development of innovative “ecosystems” in industries. By enhancing our postgraduate education, XJTLU aims to solidify its foundation, expand its scale, and build platforms, striving for dual achievements in education and research. XJTLU will continually innovate in education, empowering its students to seize the opportunities of the era, harvest “Syntegrative Wisdom”, excel in the future, and make their mark globally. The continuous expansion, strengthening, and upgrading of our staff team will enrich teaching, research, work, and life, making the XJTLU community more vibrant and attractive.

The festive atmosphere makes the sudden drop in temperature feel less cold, as we wish each other a holiday filled with love and laughter with family. The upcoming Year of the Dragon, symbolising strength, wisdom, and good fortune in Chinese culture, also heralds a year of dynamic progress and success for XJTLU and its community. Lastly, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and great fortune in the Year of the Dragon!

Professor Youmin Xi
Executive President of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
Pro-Vice-Chancellor of University of Liverpool

Extra scene for fun:

December 22, 2023


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