The network of 97 (as of November 2015) Confucius Institutes at universities around the country and more than 400 worldwide seeks to strengthen educational cooperation with China, develop Chinese language education, and increase intercultural understanding with the peoples of China. This network has developed in collaboration with the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) in Beijing, a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education.
Unique within the network, however, CIUM’s focus is primarily on the promotion of Chinese arts and cultures, from the ancient to the modern, forming a strong arts component of former president Coleman’s China Initiative, and advancing the university’s global programs and initiatives overall.
“The Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan will be singular among its peers, an extraordinary resource to all within the university community and far beyond,” said Lester Monts, former Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs. Designated a senior consultant to Hanban in 2009, Monts was a prime mover behind the efforts to bring the Confucius Institute to U-M, and will remain deeply involved in the Institute.
CIUM will also help U-M remain competitive in the hiring and retention of world-renowned China scholars. “Historically,” says the Task Force Report, “U-M has been the home of some of the most respected, sought-after, and productive China studies faculty in the world, whose teaching and research enterprises helped elevate and maintain U-M’s excellence and leadership position in area studies.” CIUM will help promote cross-campus faculty engagement in the arts and cultures of China, aided in this endeavor by the active participation of faculty and staff in many of the U-M’s schools and colleges.
Plans for the future are exciting. They include the creation of the Chinese Opera and Theatre Workshop, and the development of a comprehensive, internet-based Information Warehouse for Chinese Art Museums in North America.