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Vice President Biden's China visit spotlights ASU-Sichuan center

August 26, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the relationship between China and the United States during a recent visit to Sichuan University where the Center for American Culture is located, the first Sino-American university-to-university collaboration to focus specifically on cultural understanding. 

Kathryn Mohrman, director of the SCU-ASU Center for American Culture and Professor of Practice in the School of Public Affairs at ASU, traveled to China for the event where she was able to meet Biden and tell him about the center.

“Listening to Vice President Joe Biden speak about the connection between the United States and China while engaging students from the university was inspiring and underscored the importance of enterprises such as the Center for American Culture that helps Chinese students – the next generation of leaders – understand the values that represent the best of the United States,” Mohrman said.

Biden cited the importance of education in his speech and he stressed interchange, language, speech, openness and communication among the two countries. He cited students at Sichuan University and Chinese students who are in the United States attending universities as the “stuff which gives me faith.”

The SCU-ASU Center for American Culture was established in December of 2010 and its initial success has led the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to announce a $1 million competition for up to ten U.S. universities to establish similar centers on other university campuses throughout China. The Center offers an environment for Chinese people to better understand the United States, its government, language, law, economic system and values through:

  • Public, socially embedded English language and culture programs;
  • Symposia and lectures related to U.S. history, culture, and the arts;
  • Professional training programs for English teachers in writing and English as a second language programs;
  • Increased attention to English language and American culture and history programs in China;
  • A library of American books, periodicals, media, and online resources to include lectures from U.S. scholars at both ASU and SCU; and
  • Collaborative study of works of literature, language, media, arts, and history, as well as special topics of interest in both countries.

The 2011-2012 academic year offers opportunities toward deeper cooperation between the two universities with up to a dozen ASU professors offering formal lectures and engaging in informal dialogue with SCU faculty and students.  In addition, the Chinese director of the Center for American Culture will visit the United States and ASU in the fall semester 2011.

Long-term goals include collaborative research projects between ASU and SCU professors, greater student and faculty exchange, joint credit-bearing courses on American culture, outreach to American businesses in Sichuan and certificate programs for SCU students.