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Leading Chinese university to build Decision Theater

August 24, 2007

An eight-person delegation from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) recently spent two days visiting the Decision Theater. They traveled from Wuhan, China, to see firsthand how the Decision Theater is organized and equipped to help decision-makers address public policy issues.

The HUST delegation received in-depth briefings on the theater’s visualization, simulation and modeling, and collaboration tools. They heard from a variety of experts about everything from strategic planning and project management, to visualization technology and group intelligence software. They also met with two Decision Theater clients representing public and private sectors.

Xu Xiaolin, the delegation leader and HUST’s dean of the College of Public Administration, says he’s impressed with what he saw and heard during the visit. He particularly notes the value of the Decision Theater in helping to address a host of urban growth challenges.

“This enables cities to be managed better,” Xiaolin says. “It offers a more scientific approach to managing a city. It gives more people a voice regardless of where they may live,” referring to the power of digital technology as a planning and participation resource. The dean believes his university will have its version of a Decision Theater up and running within a year. He foresees continued strong collaboration with ASU, saying “the future is beautiful between ASU and HUST.”

Xiaolin says he would like to see the HUST visualization center called the “New Sino-American Decision Theater,” but the name will determined by several people sometime later.

Initial discussions about a HUST Decision Theater began more than a year ago and have included ASU President Michael Crow and other senior ASU officials. Rick Shangraw, the Decision Theater’s executive director and ASU’s vice president for research and economic affairs, visited HUST and other Chinese universities in May. While promoting the Decision Theater concept there, Shangraw saw the university’s preliminary construction plans and the proposed location for their Decision Theater on the campus. Given their ongoing strong interest in building a Decision Theater, Shangraw invited his HUST hosts to visit ASU for additional discussions on how ASU and HUST can collaborate.

The delegation’s visit to ASU concluded with the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding between the Decision Theater and HUST’s College of Public Administration. The program ranks fourth among colleges in China. HUST ranks fifth among all universities in China, and delegation members say the university’s appetite for innovation is a major reason for the recognition.

“This is a prestigious research university with whom we already enjoy a strong friendship,” Shangraw says. “I’m excited about the prospect of collaborating with them through our respective Decision Theaters on issues of mutual interest and concern, such as the environment, urban growth, education and public health. The future is indeed bright.”


John Skinner, (480) 965-4098
Decision Theater