Confucius Institute launched to support faculty and student research on China

As part of its ongoing commitment to research on China, the University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Chinese Language Council International, is establishing a Confucius Institute on its campus in Hyde Park.

The Confucius Institute will support a broad program of research on China, supporting the work of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, in addition to language teaching, teacher training and study abroad. University officials, representatives of the Chinese Language Council International, Renmin University of China and the Chinese Consulate in Chicago gathered in Judd Hall on June 1 for a luncheon and roundtable discussion marking the official opening of the Institute.

The Chinese Language Council International, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, supports Confucius Institutes around the world, including 80 at universities and school systems in the United States, to promote the study of Chinese language. Teaching assistance for Chinese language studies at the University of Chicago is already provided through that program.

The new Confucius Institute at the University of Chicago was launched on the recommendation of the University’s Committee on Chinese Studies, a part of the Center for East Asian Studies, which voted in its spring 2009 meeting to encourage the creation of a program that would go beyond language studies to support research on China. The initial agreement, signed last fall, is for a period of five years.

“China’s extraordinary transformation and growth on the world stage make this a crucial time to intellectually engage and understand the nation and its development,” said Dali Yang, Director of the Center of East Asian Studies and Professor in Political Science and the College, who was selected to serve as the Institute’s faculty director. “The Confucius Institute will provide one more important channel through which the University supports a wide range of research on China.”

The Institute will be overseen by a five–member board, including Dean John Mark Hansen of the Social Sciences Division, Dean Martha Roth of the Humanities Division, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives David Greene, and two representatives of Renmin University, who also will provide additional language teaching resources to the University next fall.

The Institute’s program will be developed by the director and a faculty committee, to be convened this summer.

“We expect that the Institute will provide support for faculty, graduate and undergraduate research, additional resources for language studies, and financial support for students who want to study abroad,” said Yang. “Exactly what shape that will take will be determined in consultation with the faculty committee.”

Funding for the Institute will be provided by the Chinese Language Council International, also known as Hanban. Yang said that programs could begin in earnest in fall 2010.

Tuesday’s opening celebration featured a roundtable discussion on contemporary Chinese legal and economic issues with Chicago faculty and faculty from Renmin University.

President Robert J. Zimmer, President Ji Baocheng of Renmin University of China, Confucius Institute Deputy Director General Zhao Guocheng, and Guoqiang Yang, the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China to Chicago, were in attendance.

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Photos

President Robert J. Zimmer (center) unveils a plaque for the new Confucius Institute at the University of Chicago along with Ji Baocheng, President of Renmin University of China. Joining them (from left) at the June 1 opening are Zhao Guocheng, Deputy General Director of the Confucius Institute headquarters; Yang Guoqiang, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China to Chicago; and Dali Yang, Professor in Political Science and the College.

Photo by Dan Dry

President Ji Baocheng (second from right) wrote the calligraphy for a scroll that Renmin University of China presented to the University’s new Confucius Institute. The Institute will support a broad program of research on China, supporting the work of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, in addition to language teaching, teacher training and study abroad.

Photo by Dan Dry

Performers act out a “lion dance” at the Confucius Institute’s opening program. The event at Judd Hall also included a luncheon and roundtable discussion.

Photo by Dan Dry

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