Oct. 17, 2007 – The University of Utah is soon to be one of 13 institutions in the nation to host a Confucius Institute. Partnering with Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, the U’s Asian Studies Program will welcome two full-time language teachers from Sichuan University in addition to engaging in a variety of events to enhance the study and knowledge of Chinese language and culture.
The People’s Republic of China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language aims to establish Confucius Institutes all over the world, with the goal of creating 100 of them by 2010. Each institute is set up with a partner university in China.
Housed in the U’s College of Humanities, the Confucius Institute will offer China-related cultural activities such as films, opera and music performances, art exhibits and public lectures on Chinese society, culture and history, all of which will be open to the campus and the wider community. In addition, the Chinese government is giving the Confucius Institute a gift of 3,000 volumes of books and multimedia materials which will be housed in the Marriot Library.
Chinese language courses will be offered with flexible scheduling at a variety of levels including evening, weekend and summer intensive courses, open to anyone interested in leaning Chinese. The institute will also promote the study of Chinese language and culture in schools at the K-12 level, offering teacher workshops and developing educational resources. In addition, the institute will offer useful seminars for companies engaging in business ventures in China.
“The establishment of a Confucius Institute at the U is an exciting addition to our emerging Asia Center, as China represents one of the center’s strongest regional sectors,” states Heidi Camp, assistant dean of the College of Humanities. “In addition to enhancing the profile of our Chinese studies sector, the institute will allow us to expand programming to China.”
This fall, the U’s College of Humanities began offering a new interdisciplinary master’s degree program in Asian Studies which provides graduate level training for students interested in Asia-related careers in business, diplomacy, government, education and academia. “We expect that a majority of students enrolling in this program will have a focus on China,” says Camp, emphasizing the anticipated educational role the institute will play in the students’ experience.
University of Utah President Michael K. Young says he expects the Confucius Institute to bring significant benefits to the U and the state.
“The Confucius Institute is a wonderful addition to our internationalization efforts,” says Young. “It reflects our ongoing commitment to prepare students for an increasingly transnational world and recognizes China’s extraordinary role in the global economy and the world in general. It is a tremendous compliment to our faculty and students to be one of a small handful of locations in the U.S. selected for this distinct honor by the Chinese government. Such a tribute reflects our good fortune in having a governor so in tune with Asia and in the breadth of capabilities and resources already in place at the U.”
Young says the institute will serve to increase Utah’s desirability as a trading partner and business locale for the burgeoning Asian market and will help prepare students for leadership in a rapidly changing world.
All activities of the institute will be funded by China’s National Office of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, which will provide an initial $100,000 start-up fund in the first year, after which time the Chinese government will continue to support the programs of the institute upon request. The University of Utah will provide staff support and space for the institute and a generous $100,000 gift from Jon Huntsman, Sr. will assist the U in ensuring the institute’s establishment and ongoing success.
An opening to acknowledge the creation of the institute will be held on Tuesday, October 23 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the U’s Alumni House, in which Young and Sichuan University Vice President Shi Jian will sign the agreement between the two institutions. Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. will also speak on the importance of China to the state of Utah. The reception is open to the public and media are welcome.
For more information about the Asian Studies Program, call 801-585-6477 or visit http://www.hum.utah.edu/asian/.