University to broaden its international collaboration with center in China
The University of Chicago's global engagement and scholarship will take an important stride forward in fall 2010 when it opens a new center in China, President Robert J. Zimmer said this week.
Based on faculty recommendations, the center in China will be an intellectual destination, a place where Chicago students study with Chicago faculty, as well as a home for collaborative scholarship across the disciplines. The center will represent all the University's divisions and schools and the College.
The center in China underscores the University's commitment to Asia. Throughout the 20th Century, scholarly exchanges and collaborations connected Asia and Chicago. Ten years ago, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business opened its Singapore campus, where it grants executive MBA degrees. Now a faculty committee is also considering the feasibility and desirability of a University of Chicago presence in India.
Dali Yang, Director of the Center of East Asian Studies and Professor in Political Science and the College, led the faculty committee that recommended creation of a center in China in 2008.
"The center in China builds on a long tradition of collaboration between University scholars and their peers across Asia, as well as the University's distinctive approach to academic and cultural engagement abroad," Yang said. "In light of the dramatic transformations that have occurred in China, we felt it was important for the University to create a significant base there, one that will allow for the widest array of intellectual partnerships."
University trustees later endorsed the idea, and confirmed their commitment to move forward at a meeting in September.
The center will promote scholarship in three broad areas: business, economics, and policy; science, medicine, and public health; and culture, society, and the arts. The center will not grant degrees.
The University is working on securing space in Beijing, as well as seeking regulatory approval and naming a faculty director and executive director.
The faculty committee that recommended the center catalogued dozens of ongoing research partnerships between Chicago scholars and their Chinese counterparts. From Dr. Janet Rowley's work on leukemia with leading Chinese hospitals, to Prof. Paul Sereno's headline-making partnerships with Chinese paleontologists, this work spans disciplines.
Chicago undergraduates currently have opportunities to study language and Asian civilization in Beijing. Graduate students do fieldwork in anthropology, history, political science, and a host of other studies across the region.
While most American universities limit their presence abroad to administrative offices or programs that connect students with outside faculty to study local language and culture, the University of Chicago took a different approach five years ago when it created the Center in Paris.
Based on the College's Civilization Abroad programs, the Center in Paris was built around the idea of courses shaped and taught by University faculty, with the same standards for rigor and innovation as courses conducted in Chicago. While the curriculum in Paris is enriched by its location, and proximity to European scholars, it goes far beyond the study of things French; human evolution, astrophysics, immunobiology and African Civilization are among the center's recent and future offerings.
The Center in Paris also established a precedent for bringing together scholars at many levels, from undergraduates to graduate students to Chicago faculty and visiting scholars.
Chicago Booth, meanwhile, had pioneered its own model for engaging global issues and international scholarship. Unlike many other business schools abroad, Chicago Booth faculty members teach their own curriculum and grant Chicago degrees at permanent campuses in London and Singapore.
"We view the China Center as a valuable and complementary resource to our campus in Singapore and we look forward to playing a significant role in the development of the center," said Ted Snyder, Dean of Chicago Booth.
The center in China is designed to expand on those interdisciplinary and multilevel approaches, creating a strong international presence in its own right, and providing a stepping-stone to future global initiatives.
At the same time, the center in China is expected to provide a platform for the University's outreach to its growing alumni community in the region.
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