Confucius Institute joins McMaster

By Jane Christmas, December 19, 2008

McMaster University is establishing an institute dedicated to Chinese culture, language and business. Developed in partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University, the programs offered through the Institute will be open to students and communities throughout the Golden Horseshoe.

The Confucius Institute will become the locus for those who want to learn about China, or who want to do business there, or who want to learn Chinese, or for someone of Chinese lineage who wants to learn more about their heritage.

"The Confucius Institute is a great fit for McMaster," says Peter George, president of McMaster University. "It will also serve as a vital knowledge conduit between Canada and China. Confucius related the moral problems of the present to past political events and to sentiments expressed by both the elite and the general population. He encouraged his followers to think for themselves rather than merely following the rules. It is precisely the type of teaching-through critical thinking, self-directed, life-long learning, and addressing issues in trans-disciplinary approaches-that we practice at McMaster."

The Institute will operate within the Faculty of Humanities and the DeGroote School of Business. Credit-based courses and workshops will be offered to students as part of the regular curriculum, but also to schoolchildren and adults via workshops, guest speakers, and cultural events.

"McMaster's Confucius Institute is unique in that we will promote learning of the Chinese language and culture at the university level, at the high school level and for medium and small enterprises in the region," says Luke Chan, associate vice-president in McMaster's Office of International Affairs. "As a Chinese Canadian I am excited that there will be a systematic way for both Canadians and Chinese to learn Chinese and Chinese culture."

Paul Bates, dean of the DeGroote School of Business, says the Institute will enrich the classroom experience.

"It is critical that we send our "market-ready" graduates on to success in their career with an opportunity to develop a solid understanding of the Chinese culture, together with a depth of knowledge of the economic impact of this nation and its peoples," says Bates.

"This Institute will serve as a valuable resource for pursuing and engaging with the Chinese language and culture, for interacting with scholars and business leaders in a variety of activities and settings," adds Suzanne Crosta, dean of Humanities. "The Confucius Institute is a key component of the University's commitment to make McMaster a global university."

The agreement was forged in China during the most recent trade and investment mission led by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The first Confucius Institute opened in 2004 in Seoul, Korea, and since then other Institutes have been established in such countries as the United States, Germany, and Sweden where Chinese language and culture is increasingly popular. In all there are about 300 affiliated Institutes in 78 countries.