China and the University of Michigan

In 2005, more than 128 years after former U-M president James Angell (3rd President) visited the country, former president Mary Sue Coleman (13th President) led a delegation to China to strengthen existing ties and establish new educational opportunities. The delegation also reinforced academic partnerships with a number of institutions.

The goal is to build alliances and to share the lessons of Michigan’s success as a great public research university as a model for Chinese higher education.

China is a country undergoing dramatic change. And with change comes great challenges and also great opportunities regarding education, sustainability, employment, culture, and social structure.

Former president Coleman’s 2005 visit to China included visits to four Chinese universities.
In 2005, more than 128 years after former U-M President James Angell visited the country, former president Mary Sue Coleman led a delegation to China to strengthen existing ties and establish new educational opportunities. The delegation also reinforced academic partnerships with a number of institutions. The goal is to build alliances and to share the lessons of Michigan’s success as a great public research university as a model for Chinese higher education.

In addition to its university partnerships, the U-M has also established a relationship with the Chinese Ministry of Education for forums devoted to university leadership. And collaboration between U-M and China continues to expand in other ways, offering increased opportunities for U-M students to study in China, and bringing more students and visitors from China to Michigan.

Along with URC partners Michigan State and Wayne State universities, U-M participated in the 2008 Michigan-China University Leadership Forum.

The Confucius Institute is a direct outgrowth of former president Coleman’s China Initiative. The Task Force on China made recommendations on U-M’s interactions with China and recommended steps for enhanced engagement, and discussed ways of “advancing the development of intellectual assets and collaboration in the arts,” the natural outgrowth of which resulted in Michigan’s Confucius Institute.

Read more about the China Task Force and see the Task Force Report.

There are many Confucius Institutes: more than 400 worldwide, and more than 97 (as of November 2015) in the United States alone. But the CIUM is unique in its approach. Rather than being a conduit primarily for language learning, the CIUM will concentrate on the cultural aspects of the ancient country, so rich in musical and artistic tradition.

From the Task Force report:

We anticipate an emerging desire in China for stronger collaboration on understanding of cultural traditions and development of contemporary artistic and humanistic responses to China’s situation, building on China’s increasingly vibrant arts scene. China is increasingly seeing the need to reflect on its social and cultural values and to rebuild and enhance its capacity to analyze, disseminate, and engage its own traditions in philosophy, religion, literature, and arts. We therefore want to highlight a particular opportunity for U-M with respect to collaboration in arts and humanities.