The Confucius Institute at Old Dominion University
The designation of a Confucius Institute at a university is made by Hanban, Worldwide Headquarters of Confucius Institutes of China. Only 70 Confucius Institutes have been awarded to American universities. Old Dominion University has joined with Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan and the College of William and Mary among others as hosts to Confucius Institutes. ODU is now part of an impressive peer group.
ODU was recognized for 1) its strong affiliations with the regional community through its China Center and the Institute of Asian Studies and 2) the presence of a strong College of Education, combined with the Chinese language instruction already in place in the College of Arts and Letters. These elements were critical because a Confucius Institute exists for three major purposes: 1) to facilitate the instruction of the Chinese language at the host university and in public school systems and private schools within each Institute’s geographic area; 2) to disseminate knowledge of Chinese history, literature, the arts and other aspects of Chinese culture to the community at large; and 3) through the promotion of language and understanding of China as a country, to create the kind of partnerships that foster mutual understanding between the United States and China.
Each Confucius Institute must have a partnering Chinese university, and ODU’s is Minzu University located in the western suburbs of Beijing. Faculty and student exchanges, and long-distance academic and instructional collaborations will be some of the elements of the Confucius Institute’s activities. Minzu faculty members will also work with ODU’s external community, giving presentations on various aspects of historic and contemporary life in China.
The Confucius Institute is another vital component in the University’s academic and community engagement efforts. The Confucius Institute, together with the ODU China Center, will be the umbrella organization under which the China-related initiatives in all ODU’s colleges can be indexed and coordinated. The Institute will facilitate synergies between the University’s academic capabilities and the needs of business, politics and the area population’s interests. An example of this synergy at work would be the College of Business and Public Administration’s supply chain and multimodal transportation partnership with Shanghai’s Maritime University, an initiative that is poised to benefit the North American headquarters of transportation lines located in Norfolk.
ODU enjoys a strong relationship with the region’s Chinese-American community in large part due to the outreach efforts of its Chinese-American faculty and faculty from China. Faculty members with expertise in China regularly address large public audiences in the community, such as Professor Qiu Jin Hailstork’s packed open lectures on the current political climate in China held at ODU’s Virginia Beach Higher Education Center. Minzu University’s faculty members can expect loyal ODU audiences in the community for their presentations on China-related topics.