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Name change — hype or future-oriented prescience?

China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-29 07:53

A visitor tries the "metaverse Service" at SK Telecom stand during GSMA's 2022 Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain February 28, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology has recently renamed the information engineering department of its artificial intelligence school the metaverse engineering department. This is the first university department named after the metaverse in the country.

The concept of the metaverse has been controversial since its emergence, and people have enough reasons to question what subjects the department will teach, and what jobs its graduates will be suitable for. The university, which has the autonomy to name its departments and schools, can answer these questions with its actions.

In recent years, some Chinese universities have changed the names of their departments and schools, say, from the department of mechanics to the department of intelligence, just to make them sound better. As a matter of fact, the education and research of these departments with fashionable names are no different from before.

The change of department and school names should be prudent, and based on opinions from relevant professors and researchers of the departments and schools, rather than decided on the whim of individual powerholders at a university, who might be misled by the popularity of certain newly-appearing but short-lived concepts and stunts.

As far as the metaverse engineering department is concerned, the university has a lot to do to prove the department is worthy of the name.

It is to be hoped the university in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, can blaze a trail and set a good example for other higher-learning institutions in the education and research of the new subject so as to demarcate its academic and disciplinary boundaries as clearly as possible.

If so, the metaverse department of the university can become a leader in the field, in terms of both talent training and academic research, and its achievements and contribution can be recognized by domestic and international peers.

As such, although people may question the motives for renaming the department, they should hold a wait-and-see attitude to the pioneering spirit the university has demonstrated so that it can have more time to prove itself.

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