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Campus to Close Confucius Institute, Seek New Opportunities

By Julia Ann Easley on April 28, 2020 in University

The campus will explore establishing new ways of working with international universities as it closes its Confucius Institute, the first to focus on Chinese food and beverage culture, effective Aug. 15.

UC Davis is separating from the Hanban division of China’s Ministry of Education — which has sponsored hundreds of institutes around the world — after the organization recently announced the institutes’ renewed focus on language instruction. The UC Davis institute never offered language instruction or for-credit courses, except for a one-credit internship on Chinese culture.

In a letter to Hanban officials today (April 28), Chancellor Gary S. May wrote that UC Davis would consider new collaborations that can build on the accomplishments of the institute.

“The time has come for us to consider new pathways by building on cultural exchange programs like those our Confucius Institute has fostered,” he said.

​​​​Community-oriented programs

Opened in 2013, the institute combined the signature strengths of UC Davis and partner campus Jiangnan University, just west of Shanghai, China, as world leaders in food and beverage science and technology.

The institute has offered community-oriented programs, created opportunities for academic collaboration and fostered communication between China’s and California's food and beverage industries. The institute has hosted workshops, lectures and other events on Chinese food, tea and wine, as well as Chinese art and culture. Among its most popular activities were cooking workshops, dim sum field trips, and the annual Innovative Cooking Competition and Mid-Autumn Festival celebration.

A valued relationship with China

Joanna Regulska, vice provost and associate chancellor of Global Affairs at UC Davis, said the campus will continue to build on its long and deep relationship with China. The university has 35 agreements of cooperation in both education and research with Chinese institutions, maintains five alumni networks in China, and hosts more than 5,000 international students and scholars from China every year. Approximately 100 faculty members have collaborated with colleagues in China on more than 3,500 publications since 2013.

Regulska said the university’s relationship with Jiangnan University dates back to the 1970s, and she is confident it will grow in new directions. Since the early 1980s, the universities have worked together to organize international conferences on food science and technology.

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