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Confucius Institute at Miami to create Chinese language and cultural opportunities


Miami will receive a Confucius Institute from HanBan, the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing. Confucius Institutes are designed to help promote the study of Chinese language and culture.

An opening ceremony for the institute is set for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, at 212 MacMillan Hall. Qing Biao Qu, president of Liaoning Normal, and his colleagues will attend.

Han Ban will provide Miami with approximately $100,000 in program funds in the first year in addition to an associate director, a language instructor and 3,000 books. Similar support is likely in subsequent years.

Miami hopes that the Confucius Institute will become a major resource for the region, Ohio and the Midwest to help understand the changes in the international economy and to take advantage of the new opportunities posed by China's extraordinary growth. The institute will reach out to entrepreneurs across Ohio and the Midwest to help them understand how to do business with China. Provost Jeffrey Herbst noted, "Given Ohio's economic challenges, a critical role for our university is to help businesses understand that China is the greatest economic opportunity of our age."

In addition, Miami will expand its Chinese language and culture offerings, ideally including offering Chinese at the regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown. The university also hopes to begin to train language teachers to teach Chinese in high school and middle school, a desperate need in this country, says Provost Herbst. Programs may start as early as this fall.

Other universities worldwide that have received a Confucius Institute include the London School of Economics, the Free University in Berlin, Chiang Mai University in Thailand and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Miami will be able to establish relations with the roughly 100 Confucius Institutes worldwide that have or will be established in the next few years. Miami is the first university in Ohio to receive a Confucius Institute.

Miami's Confucius Institute is being formed in conjunction with Liaoning Normal University (LNU) in Dalian. "We have enjoyed extremely good relations with LNU and look forward to deepening those ties in the future. The Confucius Institute will also serve as a platform to develop even stronger relations with other universities in China, as we have already been encouraged to do by the HanBan. Indeed, great prestige is attached to the presence of a Confucius Institute in China," says Herbst.

The institute builds on Miami's recent growth of Asia-focused educational developments:

• Miami's German, Russian, and East Asian languages department has grown from offering two Chinese introductory language classes just a few years ago to eight introductory classes and four intermediate classes this fall.

• Miami ran a Board of Regents-sponsored Chinese Academy this summer for high school students to learn beginning Chinese through GREAL and Miami University Hamilton.

• The number of new Chinese undergraduate students has increased from 2 in fall 2004 to 42 in fall 2007, due to recruitment efforts by the offices of admission and international education.

• Eight summer Miami academic programs took students to China in summer 2007.

• Last fall, the Farmer School of Business enrolled its first class of 40 students, who began learning Mandarin Chinese as freshmen, in the China Business program. It includes four years of intensive language and cultural study, examination of American and Chinese business practices and an immersion experience in China with Petters Group Worldwide (Sunbeam, Polaroid) and study at a Chinese university.

• Last year, the Farmer School of Business established the Jennifer Petters Chair in Asian Business. David Yen, Glos Professor in Miami's accountancy/index.html" target="_blank">" target="_blank">decision sciences and management information systems, will be the first Petters Chair.

• Donor Thomas J. Petters is also working with Miami to develop a Living and Learning Center in Shanghai to create an educational facility to serve business and academic communities from the United States and China.

• Miami's programs of Interactive Media Studies and the Armstrong Interactive last summer hosted a workshop, Summer Study in Shanghai: Interactive Media Design/Development. Students from graphic design, business, MIS, CSA, SAN, BTSC/MTSC, communication and interdisciplinary studies worked with the Petters Group Worldwide in its Shanghai offices.

The workshop examined the tools and methodologies involved in the creation and the management of the production of new media. In addition to attending classes in Shanghai, students traveled to other key Chinese destinations. The next workshop will be in summer 2008.

• After a May 2006 visit to China, Miami has developed a relationship with South China University of Technology for studies relative to the paper industry. Faculty members Shashi Lalvani (chair of paper and chemical engineering), Lei Kerr and Doug Coffin traveled to China to open the door for undergraduate and graduate students from Miami and South China universities to consider study at the other school.

• A cross-disciplinary team of faculty last year was awarded a $10,000 grant for "Exploring the Silk Road: The Power of Travel, Exploration and Boundary Crossing," which took them to China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey in 2006. Faculty members came from the departments of political science, history, architecture and interior design, classics, comparative religion and French and Italian.


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