China and the University of Chicago
The University of Chicago’s history of scholarly collaboration in China began with President Harry Pratt’s leadership of the 1914 commission that helped establish the China Medical Board and Peking Union Medical College. Since the 1930s, when Herrlee G. Creel (PhB ’26, PhD ’29), one of the world’s foremost scholars on China’s early civilization and an authority on Confucius, helped found the University of Chicago’s program in Far Eastern Studies, the University has been an important center for the study of Chinese language and civilization. This legacy continues today with dozens of ongoing research partnerships between University of Chicago scholars and their Chinese counterparts.
Research on China spans the University’s diverse disciplines, from art history to economics to global health. Much of the scholarship seeks to better understand Chinese culture, history, and current events, while other research and collaborations are focused on bringing a better understanding of China to Western audiences. Established in the 1950s, the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago and its Committee on Chinese Studies have sponsored a variety of activities including colloquia, workshops, conferences, public lectures, film series, cultural events, and other programs that promote understanding of Chinese culture and society. In September 2010 the University strengthened its engagement with China by opening the Center in Beijing, providing a physical presence to enhance the University’s traditionally strong ties to Chinese thought and culture. The Center provides a base for faculty and graduate students conducting research, hosts academic conferences, houses the undergraduate Civilization Abroad program, and serves as a gathering place for alumni.