GHSU has long had ties with Chinese universities through research, and some faculty have dual appointments with schools there. But Azziz announced last week that he will be traveling to China to create “agreements of understanding” with five or six universities and to meet with sectors of the Chinese government.
“We have had lots of relationships with China through our investigators, but we have never really formalized them to the degree we are today,” he said.
Part of that will be creating a Confucius Institute in Augusta. The institutes are agreements between international universities and Chinese universities that foster greater awareness of Chinese language and culture and exchanges between the two partners, said Rong Cai, the director of the Confucius Institute in Atlanta, which is a partnership between Emory University and Nanjing University in China and was one of the first at a research university when it was founded in 2008.
Others at Kennesaw State and Georgia State universities are a little different, she said. Georgia State focuses more on business and Kennesaw State on K-12 education while Emory focuses on higher education, Cai said.
“It offers a platform for us to internationalize education and scholarly exchanges and collaborations,” she said.
It is hard to give an accurate count because new programs are being added all of the time, but there are more than 300 Confucius Institutes worldwide and more than 60 in the U.S., Cai said.
While each Confucius Institute is slightly different, most help promote Chinese language through instructional courses and classroom programs while also helping educate people about Chinese culture.
“I think any promotion of Chinese language and culture and awareness among the public obviously helps people in the United States to understand a globalized world,” Cai said.
The institute in Atlanta gives those at Chinese universities an easy way to connect to Atlanta, Emory and Georgia, she said.
“We help organize connections and forums for them to get into contact with local businesses and organizations,” Cai said, in addition to Emory.
GHSU is still exploring what it would do with a Confucius Institute, but it could focus on health, Azziz said.
“For example, we could think of a Confucius Institute around East-West medicine, those kinds of things,” he said.