New Confucius Institute to Expand Educational, Cultural Offerings

A Confucius Institute will open at UNC Charlotte in summer 2017 to broaden the University’s outreach and support for language instruction and cultural opportunities in the Charlotte community.

“The Confucius Institute will expand our offerings in Chinese language and culture, both on campus and in the community,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Joan Lorden. “We look forward to the opportunities for unique cultural programming, study abroad and collaborative research that this new partnership will bring to Charlotte.”

UNC Charlotte will establish the Confucius Institute within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies. UNC Charlotte is partnering with Shanxi University, a comprehensive university of arts and sciences located in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province.

“We see a growing demand for Chinese language instruction and cultural activities to better understand China, improve bilateral relations and better prepare students for future opportunities and challenges,” said College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Nancy Gutierrez. “We anticipate the Confucius Institute will work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and other schools in the region to help students be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly globalized world.”

Chinese instructors from Shanxi University would act as teaching assistants at local K-12 schools, with supervision by the local schools.

Initial plans call for the public to be able to take advantage of community offerings, which could include conversation hours, films, seminars, lectures and artistic performances.

“Our partnership will also allow us to help organizations and businesses improve their international knowledge and gain greater access to Chinese language and cultural instruction,” Gutierrez said. “We anticipate offering educational courses to businesses, providing Chinese language testing and developing training courses for local school teachers.”

Long-term goals include potentially connecting UNC Charlotte students with Chinese scholarships for short-term or long-term study abroad programs in China and offering students from Shanxi University the opportunity to study at UNC Charlotte through selected collaborative agreements.

Meeting the needs of the broader community is critical, Gutierrez said. The Chinese population in the Charlotte region has shown significant growth with a 168 percent rise in population between 2000 and 2014. Local schools have responded with Chinese language classes, and the Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 2015 led a 40-representative delegation from the Carolinas for a two-week business trip to China to explore potential collaborations. Another trip is planned for 2017.

Two directors – one from UNC Charlotte and one from Shanxi University – will manage the Confucius Institute and report to a Board of Directors to be chaired by Gutierrez. The board will include Lorden, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, Assistant Provost for International Programs Joël Gallegos and other campus, community and Chinese leaders.

The University will host a grand opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 29, Cone University Center, McKnight Hall, to celebrate the partnership. This event, which will feature artistic performances, will be open to the public.

Nonprofit Confucius Institutes operate with support from a host university and from Hanban, also known as the Office of Chinese Language Council International (CLCI), a Chinese Ministry of Education subsidiary. UNC Charlotte and Hanban will share in the funding of the Confucius Institute.

There are more than 100 Confucius Institutes in the United States, including ones at North Carolina State University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Maryland and Michigan State University.

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