By Derrick Meads
The University of Kentucky is deepening its ties with China by establishing an on-campus Office of China Initiatives.
The Office of China Initiatives – located on UK’s campus, in Bradley Hall – is an outcome of the strategic planning conversations convened by the UK International Center (UKIC) during Spring 2013. UKIC provides coordination, consistency and focus for UK’s international work in seven world regions. During discussions about the collaborative opportunities available in China, faculty members stressed the need to focus UK’s partnership efforts and to support UK faculty engagement with their colleagues in China.
China’s growth as an economic superpower has made it a priority for UKIC’s regional strategic vision.
“China is an area where UK can’t afford to be left behind,” said Susan Carvalho, associate provost for internationalization. “I think it’s fair to say that every college and university in the country has its eye on China and is looking for the connections that will yield the most benefit to their students and their scholars. So finding our place in the complicated map of Chinese higher education is an imperative.”
Building on the success of the UK Confucius Institute, Huajing Maske will continue that leadership and will also serve as executive director of the Office of China Initiatives, focusing on UK’s strategic interests.
“The UK Confucius Institute helped establish many important partnerships with Chinese institutions,” said Maske. “The Office of China Initiatives will focus on putting these partnerships into real practice by helping faculty identify their Chinese collaborative counterparts and providing resources to help them succeed.”
The Office of China Initiatives will facilitate broader collaborations among Chinese and University of Kentucky scholars, and will support existing partnerships that require aligned research agendas and greater investment.
“Developing UK’s China partnerships will create new opportunities for funded collaborative research, as well as new student pipelines to and from China,” said Maske.
Collaborative Funded Research
The Chinese government offers significant funding opportunities to its top universities, when they engage in collaborative global research. UK faculty can access this funding through partnerships, and the Office of China Initiatives will help to establish or extend these partnerships. Similarly, major funders in the U.S., such as the NSF, are offering grants for U.S. researchers who are collaborating with international scholars.
“The more we can link with those universities faculty-to-faculty and department-to-department, the better positioned we will be to apply for collaborative grants based in the U.S. or in China,” said Carvalho. “We are looking to establish the kinds of shared interest and synergies that would position our researchers and theirs for some of those funding opportunities.”
An example of collaborative funded research is UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research’s (CAER) participation in the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center.
“China is making the most investments right now, with respect to coal use and also at the scale in which they’re doing it,” said Rodney Andrews, director of CAER. “They’re willing to do large-scale tests that aren’t going on anywhere else.”
CAER is participating in the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center through its Power Generation Group, Algae Research Group and Coal Ash Group to develop next- generation clean coal technologies, carbon capture and storage.
The Office of China Initiatives will also develop avenues for UK students to visit China for international education experiences, and for students from China to study at the University of Kentucky.
“As the world’s leading exporter, with the world’s second-largest economy, there is no question that China is a dominant player in the 21st century marketplace,” said Carvalho. “We would like our faculty and our students to be attuned to economic, political and social developments in China so that they have a context for understanding the trade relationships that are developing.”
China also has a strong presence in UK’s student body. Currently 44.2 percent of the international students at UK come from China.
The Office of China Initiatives, in collaboration with International Enrollment Management, will help recruit Chinese students to UK through Chinese high school and university partnerships.
The Office of China Initiatives hopes not only to increase collaborative research and international education at UK, but also to expand opportunities for shared instruction with Chinese universities, building toward eventual dual degrees and UK credits delivered in China.
“Such deep connections with China will allow UK to flourish as a world-class research institution, and prepare students to lead high-impact, 21st-century careers,” said UK Provost Christine Riordan. “UK is part of the future of U.S.-China relations, one that is based on collaboration rather than competition.”
For more information about the Office of China Initiatives, contact the Executive Director of the Office of China Initiatives Huajing Maske: firstname.lastname@example.org