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University Relations

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October 24, 2005
Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866.

KU-China agreement to pursue KU as site of nation's third Confucius Institute

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas and China's Ministry of Education today in Beijing signed a memorandum of cooperation to explore establishing a Confucius Institute at KU. The KU institute would be the third Confucius Institute in the United States.

The agreement was signed by KU Provost David Shulenburger -- in China as part of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' trade mission -- and Ma Jianfei, Deputy Director-General of the National Office of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, representing the Ministry of Education. The agreement calls for China and KU to "accelerate the steps" toward creating the nonprofit educational institute.

"We are eager to have the Confucius Institute to assist in offering a greater number of people in Kansas the opportunity to learn about Chinese language and culture," said Shulenburger.

The Confucius Institute at KU would sponsor community-based Chinese language instruction, support the training and professional development of Chinese language teachers and promote outreach programs on Chinese culture.

Partnering with other KU units and a variety of public and private entities, CIKU will serve communities, businesses, schools, government, nonprofit organizations and the media throughout Kansas, the Great Plains region and the United States. China plans to create 100 Confucius Institutes worldwide by 2010 to increase trade and tourism and to encourage better understanding of Chinese language and culture. Two other Confucius Institutes have opened in the United States, at the University of Maryland and the Chicago Public Schools system.

KU has a long history of contacts with China and strong programs in Chinese and East Asian studies.

-- The Center for East Asian Studies, founded in 1959, is the only federally funded (Title VI) National Resource Center in East Asian Studies between the Mississippi River and California.• KU was one of the first U.S. universities to establish direct exchange programs with universities in China, with exchanges initiated in the early 1980s with Nankai University in Tianjin, Nanjing University and Zhengzhou University in Henan Province. KU students also study at several other Chinese universities through the KU Office of Study Abroad. Through the Kansas Asia Scholars program and the School of Business study abroad programs, KU undergraduates and graduate business students also travel to China on short-term study abroad programs.

-- 16 members of the KU faculty have research specializations in Chinese fields, and KU China scholars travel frequently to China to conduct research, give lectures or participate in workshops. KU faculty have conducted research in rural village elections in Shaanxi Province, archaeology in Henan Province and linguistics in Qinghai Province. KU faculty in other fields also have joint research, conferences and other academic projects with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the leading schools of engineering and business, and other academic organizations.

-- The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, founded in 1961, offers four levels of Chinese language and currently has 90 students enrolled in Chinese language classes. KU Students can earn bachelor's or master's degrees in either Chinese language and literature or Chinese language and culture. Students can also take courses on China in many departments and schools, such as art history, business and political science. The doctorate with a Chinese specialization can be earned in history, art history, political science and anthropology.

-- The KU library has a full-time Chinese librarian and an extensive collection of publications in Chinese.

-- More than 200 students from China (including Hong Kong and Macau) are on campus this fall.

-- The KU Wind Ensemble performed in May and June in Beijing, Chengdu and Kunming at the invitation of the Chinese government, and KU faculty members have been invited back to teach at the Conservatories of Music in Beijing, Chengdu and Kunming.

K-12 outreach activities:

-- In addition to advancing the study of China within the university, the Center for East Asian Studies has an extensive outreach program that brings the study of China to K-12 classrooms and community organizations throughout Kansas and western Missouri.

-- With assistance from grants by the Freeman Foundation (totaling more than $3 million since 2000), the Freeman Programs at the Center for East Asian Studies offers intensive seminars for K-12 teachers on ways to incorporate Asia into their classrooms and is developing exchange partnerships between school districts in Kansas and Missouri and schools in China. This initiative also included the sponsorship and organization of a delegation of Kansas and Missouri education leaders to China in November 2004 to study China's educational system and establish partner relationships. As a result of that visit, three Kansas school districts and one Missouri school district now have established partnerships with schools in China. KU recently hosted a delegation of secondary school educators from Henan who were in Kansas to visit partner schools in Shawnee Mission, Olathe and Lansing.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus. | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045