BOSTON --The University of Massachusetts and China?s Ministry of Education today launched the University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute located at UMass Boston, a non-profit public institute to promote the teaching and understanding of Chinese language and culture and support Chinese language education in Massachusetts.
The Confucius Institute is the seventh established in the United States and the first in New England. The institute will provide programs and services including teaching the Chinese language, the training of Chinese teachers, curriculum development and cultural events. It will also provide learning opportunities for the community, a clearinghouse of Chinese language and cultural materials, and a platform for research into Chinese language and culture.
?This new partnership that we recognize today is an extension of the University?s longstanding efforts to facilitate educational and cultural exchanges throughout the world. Clearly, in an increasingly interconnected world, it is essential that we prepare our students to compete successfully in the global marketplace,? said UMass President Jack M. Wilson.
The Confucius Institute will draw upon resources from throughout the university system, including the Boston campus, where the Division of Corporate, Continuing and Distance Education, East Asian Studies, Graduate College of Education, China Program Center, International Student Services, and Study Abroad Program will contribute their expertise.
?UMass Boston has nearly a dozen academic partnerships with Chinese institutions and has developed programs that allow our students and the business community to connect with China and the many opportunities it presents,? UMass Boston Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD says. ?This partnership with Hanban and the Confucius Institute?s focus on Chinese language and culture will make our existing relationships stronger and present many new opportunities to serve our students and the Boston area.?
China plans to create 100 Confucius Institutes worldwide by 2010 to encourage better understanding of Chinese language and culture. The institutes are developed by Hanban, the office of the Chinese Language Council International.
?The University of Massachusetts plays an important role in the economic and cultural life of the state,? says Xu Lin, Hanban?s Director General. ?Already, UMass is engaged in partnerships with universities and other institutions in China and is providing much-needed assistance to the Massachusetts business community exploring potential opportunities in China. Massachusetts is also taking a leadership role in Chinese language instruction in its public schools. These strong ties to Chinese institutions, culture and language will support a vibrant UMass Confucius Institute located at UMass Boston.?
In May, President Wilson signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tsinghua University in China. In late September, President Wilson led a delegation to China to meet with senior Chinese officials, political and business leaders on a range of issues.
UMass Boston, which will integrate the University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute with the China Program Center in the Division of Corporate, Continuing and Distance Education, has signed cooperative agreements with 11 Chinese academic partners in recent years to promote academic exchanges, foreign study opportunities, and management training.
The institute?s focus on language educator training will serve a unique need for teachers in Massachusetts, which has more Mandarin courses in its public and private schools (55) than any other state in the United States ? nearly 20 percent of all K-12 Mandarin courses in the country. Collaborating with the Chinese Language Association of Secondary and Elementary Schools and the Massachusetts Department of Education, the University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute located at UMass Boston will develop a Mandarin teacher licensure program that incorporates best practices from China and the United States.
The campuses of the UMass system are engaged in a range of research and training programs focused on Chinese language and culture. The UMass Amherst campus offers a Chinese language teacher preparation program. At UMass Lowell, Education Professor David Lustick conducts research into early learning at dual language schools for the U.S.-China Center for Educational Excellence. UMass Dartmouth History Professor Linsun Chen is editing a four-volume Encyclopedia of China.
The University of Massachusetts educates more than 57,000 students each year at its five campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester.
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