Confucius Institutes

Ronggui, one of our long time blog followers, writes:

I’m interested in other’s thoughts on the role that Confucius Institutes might play in the (future) development of the field.

I know, for instance, that some of them have been inviting scholars to speak on issues related to Chinese philosophy. (I believe Eric Schwitzgebel recently spoke at the Confucius Institute of Scotland and Zhang Longxi will be speaking there later this month.)

More importantly, I recently came across this job ad , which is a search for an endowed chair (Chinese poetry) at the Confucius Institute at Stanford (I didn’t even realize there was an Institute there. And where’s the funding coming from for this position?).

Having heard the government official partially responsible for the Confucius Institutes speak on the topic, it’s quite obvious that these institutes have little to do directly with Confucius (let alone Chinese philosophy); but does anyone else get the sense that there could be something significant going on with these Institutes as far as the future of the field is concerned? Could we, for instance, see an endowed chair of Chinese philosophy at the University of Michigan, or at least research fellowships and conferences sponsored by these institutes?

I’m sure some here have more direct exposure to a Confucius Institute, and so could perhaps shed some light on this, but I’m interested to know what others have heard and/or think.

Comments welcome!

3 replies on “Confucius Institutes”

  1. So… I see that there isn’t any obvious evidence of a Confucius Institute actually at Stanford, despite the CI endowed chair (!) there. That’s the first I’ve heard of a CI endowed chair anywhere (but it’s not like I have my ear to the ground for that sort of thing).

    Re: Michigan. Lo! there is a newly opened CI at Michigan ( ). From the looks of it, it’s been relegated to North Campus — and if you know anything about Michigan, you know that that tends to isolate it from the rest of the academic community except for the Music Theater and Dance folks. In fact, the director of the CI there looks to be a Music School faculty member whose official affiliations with either the Asian Languages and Cultures department or the Center for China Studies, seem absent. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the ALC and CCS have little to do with the Institute, officially or otherwise, given what I remember of the former (very serious about academic integrity). But, if the CI has money…

    I hope Steve is following this thread and can ask around a bit about it with the ALC folks while he’s still there at Michigan this week.

  2. Greetings from Ann Arbor. Manyul, you’ve been away too long! The Institute is located on North University street, which is right in the central campus. I will see what else I hear, but the general pattern is clear enough. CIs are always partnered with universities or other educational institutions, they are intended to support Chinese language and cultural learning, and often have a focus that is distinct to the goals of the partner institution (and/or the goals of the individuals at the partner school associated with the CI). So in some instances, a CI may support some teaching or other activities related to Confucianism. Last May, for instance, the Rutgers CI hosted a conference on East Asian Confucianisms. But I would not anticipate any systematic, or even frequent, connections between the institutes and Confucianism.

    • I guess I have been away too long. North University St is in the middle of things, close to ALC and CCS at least. Maybe there is some interaction. Interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.