GW to Launch Confucius Institute

New institute will promote study of Chinese language, culture.

Michael Morseberger, vice president for development, Xu Lin of Hanaban, the Confucius Institute headquarters in China, signing the agreement to bring an institute to GW.
January 16, 2013

The George Washington University will soon be home to the GW Confucius Institute, an entity that will promote the study of Chinese language and culture, support Chinese teaching through instructional training and certification, and encourage increased research in the area of China studies.

Named for the famed Chinese philosopher (551-479 B.C.), the institute will be one of 360 worldwide and the first in Washington, D.C. The institute will launch in fall 2013 in a renovated facility located on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

“GW is excited to offer this extensive global learning opportunity with our partners in China,” said Peg Barratt, dean of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, where the institute will be housed and administered. “Our students, faculty and the extended community—including government and business entities—will all benefit through this enhanced educational and cultural experience.”

The Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, China—overseen by the Office of Chinese Language Council International and affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education— is providing George Washington with start-up money, 3,000 volumes of Chinese books, teaching and audio-visual materials and access to online courses.

The GW Confucius Institute will host a team of faculty members and graduate students from a university in China to teach and administer the institute’s operations. GW is currently finalizing an agreement to establish this partnership with Nanjing University. The agreement is expected to be signed by spring 2013, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Chinese Embassy will be involved with the celebration planned for later this year.

Taoran Sun, director of financial management and global initiatives for Columbian College, is part of a committee that has worked since 2011 to bring a Confucius Institute to the university.

“This really ties back to the provost’s strategic plan,” she said. “Because we’re in the U.S. capital, we want to take advantage of our location and networks and D.C.’s unique global identity. It is a good opportunity for GW to play a leading role in promoting cross-cultural learning and China studies. The institute will also provide a platform for exchanges beyond language and humanities.”

Once the institute is running, it plans to offer noncredit classes in intermediate- to advanced-level Chinese and culture-related topics for the large population of working professionals in the capital region. Specific course such as business Chinese may be offered on a one-on-one basis. 

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