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Professor Shalendra Sharma

Associate Vice-President (Academic Quality Assurance and Internationalisation) and Lee Shau Kee Foundation Chair Professor of Political Science

Professor Shalendra Sharma

An international research perspective

Professor Shalendra Sharma, Lingnan’s Lee Shau Kee Foundation Chair Professor of Political Science, is among a very select group of scholars who has published three single authored books with the world’s top academic publisher: Cambridge University Press. Two of his books have won prestigious awards. He believes there are two facets to the study of the political economies of Asia, his own specialist area. The first is concerned with public policy, the here and now, such as the reaction to President Trump’s current trade and security policies on the world economy, in particular China. The other, the much more established tradition in the discipline, looks at the long- and short-term trends and the salient features of changes in the global political economy.

China and the world

“The strengths of Lingnan’s Political Science Department are many: active scholars engaged in the research and  study of contemporary international system, contemporary Chinese politics, the political economy of greater China and Hong Kong politics and public policy,” Professor Sharma points out.

Many of those enrolling for their postgraduate studies with his department are from the Mainland or are international students with an interest in China’s relationship with other parts of the world, be it Africa, other regions within Asia, or Europe. Given his belief in the importance of students accessing primary  source materials (and his demanding administrative duties), Professor Sharma has tended to serve as the students’ second reader, with his Chinese speaking colleagues acting as their main supervisors.

However, he has supervised three MPhil students researching China’s political and economic links with other countries and continents. Specifically, one examining China’s relationship with his home country of Zimbabwe and another examining Chinese foreign aid to Africa as a whole. Professor Sharma explains that the reason why Lingnan, along with Hong Kong’s other universities, has a large number of postgraduate students from some of the world’s less developed countries is because of the government’s Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme. This scheme offers full-funding to successful applicants, irrespective of their country of origin or nationality.

Career impact

Before joining Lingnan, Professor Sharma was Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco. “In the US, universities usually measure the impact of their PhD’s in terms of job placement.”

He believes that the impact of the research programmes run by his department at Lingnan can, similarly, be measured primarily in terms of the careers its graduates go on to have in academia or the public and private sectors.

By way of example of the success Lingnan is having on this basis, he points to two of his former students who also had single-authored articles published under his supervision. One was a MPhil student who, with Professor Sharma’s encouragement and support, got onto the PhD programme at a prestigious University in the United States. The other was a PhD student from Africa, who has gone on to publish a number of articles, and has secured a position an assistant professorship at the University of Liverpool.

“We tell our students that, in order to be competitive, they will have to remain active scholars, they will have to network, and they will need to seize the opportunities to, say, study abroad in exchange programmes. The reason we have a three week summer exchange programme with Oxford is to give our students some of those opportunities.”

This is one of the reasons why Professor Sharma applauds the leadership of Vice President Joshua Mok. He notes that the VP has worked tirelessly to strengthen and extend the ties Lingnan has with a number of British universities, indeed, leading universities around the world. Furthermore, since there is a danger of academic life becoming too insular, Professor Sharma also encourages his students to seek practical experience, such as that gained through internships and field research.

Support for postgrad students

Courses in research methods, and more specific courses in the use of big data and technology are available to postgraduate students.

And, while they are required to help with the teaching at the university, unlike at many other universities, Lingnan properly prepares them for this role. “In a course provided by the Teaching and Learning Centre, they first learn how to develop a syllabus and how to respond to the needs of students, among other skills.”

The fact they have taken such a course, and had teaching experience and teaching evaluations, will further strengthen their standing if they subsequently apply for jobs in academia, Professor Sharma notes.