We came. We saw. WeChat-ted.
It’s hard to believe we’ve arrived at the end of this week-long, whirlwind sojourn to South Korea and China, including stops in three of the world’s largest, most technologically advanced and most economically dynamic cities.
(Just when I’d finally signed up for WeChat, the popular Chinese mobile messaging app that so many of our Asian alumni use to stay connected to one another, I’d begun packing my bags for the trip back to Bloomington!)
Time and again on this remarkable trip to Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai, we witnessed the power of IU’s partnerships and ever-expanding network of alumni and friends in East Asia, all eager to help IU achieve its mission to become one of the most internationalized universities anywhere in the world.
It was a trip that began, appropriately, the way it ended — with a large and enthusiastic gathering of IU’s wonderful overseas alumni. Their passion and pride in forever being associated with IU is simply infectious, and they truly represent, in the words of IU President Michael A. McRobbie, the university’s “best global ambassadors.”
In the days between those alumni celebrations, McRobbie, IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and their fellow delegation members worked to pave pathways to new collaborative activities and institutional partnerships that promise to deliver added opportunities for IU students to study abroad; more research collaborations that span the globe and have the potential to solve some of the biggest issues facing our state, nation and world; and greater diversity across IU campuses that more closely matches the competitive, 21st century global marketplace that our graduates will enter into upon graduation.
This week was filled with several memorable events and activities that, without question, demonstrated the depth, breadth and impact of IU’s global engagement, including:
- A celebration, in Seoul, of the 30th anniversary of the Korea Chapter of the IU Alumni Association, one of the university’s most loyal, energetic and engaged international alumni groups. More than 300 of IU’s Korean alumni attended the ceremony, which included a concert by a group of graduates from IU’s top-ranked Jacobs School of Music;
- Meetings with the leaders of the Korea Foundation and Academy of Korean Studies, whose support, along with that of several prominent IU Korean alumni, made possible IU’s first endowed chair position in Korean studies, who now spearheads the School of Global and International Affairs’ new Institute for Korean Studies, one of the only such academic outfits of its kind in the U.S.;
- A meeting at Korea’s National Assembly and with its speaker, Chung Sye-kyun, just one week before the historic vote today by the country’s parliament to impeach the country’s embattled president, Park Geun-hy;
- A landmark symposium, held at the IU China Gateway office, on the path-breaking research of the late IU Nobel Laureate and Distinguished Professor Elinor “Lin” Ostrom. President McRobbie delivered the opening remarks at the all-day gathering, which included a number of students and scholars from China’s Ostrom Society, who are burnishing Lin’s legend in China through their writing and research.
- The signing of a new partnership agreement between IUPUI’s School of Engineering and Technology and Tsinghua University, China’s top-ranked university, that will lead to joint research on autonomous cars and the future of human mobility;
- A major address delivered by President McRobbie to Tsinghua University students and faculty on the role of universities in preserving knowledge and IU’s worldwide leadership in the area of media digitization and preservation;
- The formalization of a highly productive 10-year partnership between IU, including its top-ranked School of Education, and Beijing Normal University, one of China’s oldest and most prestigious universities, resulting in the establishment of a new China-U.S. Joint Research Academy for International Education and laying the groundwork for future student and faculty exchanges in other academic areas where IU and BNU have common strengths;
- A meeting with U.S. Ambassador to China and former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus to discuss, among other topics, how to ensure more U.S. students study abroad in China and IU’s success in expanding its presence here through its Global Gateway Network; and
- Celebrations of IU’s increasingly active Chinese alumni chapters in Beijing and Shanghai, with more than 100 graduates attending each event. (More on the latter city’s celebration in a bit.)
As McRobbie frequently indicated in our various meetings this week, IU has nearly 9,000 international students enrolled on its campuses this fall, almost half of whom come from South Korea and China.
But in the end, it’s not the number of students, or where they come from specifically, that’s truly important. It’s how these students serve as a collective gateway of sorts for all IU students — especially those who may not have the chance to go overseas — to different cultures and unique and valuable perspectives from around the world.
Of course, study abroad is fast becoming synonymous with being a Hoosier student. Currently, more than a third of students at IU’s Bloomington campus will have participated in some form of study abroad by the time they graduate, engaging in an educational pursuit that so many of them describe as life-changing, and that number is rapidly nearing the 40 percent mark.
And then there are IU’s international alumni. IU now has more than 4,600 alumni affiliated with Korea and nearly 6,000 with China. Collectively, they make enormous contributions to the life and impact of IU around the world, spreading the word in their home countries — more than any ranking or large advertisement could — about all that makes an IU education so highly respected and Indiana such a vibrant place to live and study.
Celebrating IU’s alumni connections in Shanghai
Unfortunately, no number of words can do justice to how passionate and supportive IU’s international alumni are about their alma mater, how honored they are to welcome us to their home countries and how deeply they care about helping IU fulfill its promise to future generations of, in the words of IU’s legendary 11th President Herman Wells, of bringing “IU to the world and the world to IU.”
This evening in Shanghai, President McRobbie thanked IU’s Chinese alumni for their great dedication to the university and praised the Shanghai alumni chapter, specifically, for leading an impressive increase in alumni engagement here in recent years. He also shared highlights of the IU delegation’s productive week in China and Korea, the university’s record-breaking “banner year” and several exciting new events that will take place in the coming year, such as IU’s “China Remixed” festival, which will bring a number of celebrated Chinese artists and performers to Bloomington this coming spring.
Tonight’s celebration also included a few unique moments to Shanghai that served to spotlight the meaningful contributions IU’s Chinese students make to diversifying their campus communities and the impact IU has had on their lives.
The event featured a showing of a short documentary film on the Young Pioneers, the first Chinese team to participate in IU’s legendary Little 500 bicycle race tradition. The Young Pioneers were the first Little 5 team made up entirely of international students, and the film focuses on the fact that the Schwinn bicycles that the Young Pioneers and, in fact, all Little 500 riders use are made in China, in a factory in Changzhou.
Later in the celebration, proud members of an IU Chinese alumni basketball team accepted a trophy for their participation in a large college alumni basketball tournament. The trophy was presented by IU Kelley School of Business alumnus Ali Tuet, chairman of ESG Holdings Ltd. in China, who recently shared, in a Kelley school video, what made his experience at IU so valuable.
The evening concluded with a beautiful musical performance by Tuet accompanied by pianist Hanwen “Andy” Jiang, a 2013 Jacobs School of Music alumnus.
After several hours of celebration, members of the Shanghai Chapter took several well deserved bows and led the gathering in a rousing singalong of the IU fight song, calling to a close another great night for IU halfway across the world and putting the finishing touches on a most memorable and inspiring trip for members of IU’s delegation.
As I’ve learned now over several international trips, it’s never easy to say goodbye to IU’s great alumni, friends and partners overseas. But we did so this evening with the first-hand knowledge that the spirit of Indiana University is alive and thriving in Shanghai, as well as in Beijing and in Seoul, and with the promise of even greater IU engagement that will lead to new opportunities for students and scholars here in East Asia in the months and years to follow.
I hope to see all of our Chinese and Korean friends again very soon, and, of course, I’m excited to share more stories of IU’s amazing presence here with my friends and colleagues in Bloomington.
Until then, zàijiàn, annyeonghi kaseyo and goodbye, and thanks so much for reading!
P.S. And, of course, please follow me on WeChat!
Tags: Academy of Korean Studies, Ali Tuet, Beijing, Beijing Normal University, China, China Remixed, Chung Sye-kyun, David Zaret, Elinor Ostrom, Hanwen Jiang, Indiana University Alumni Association, Institute for Korean Studies, IU China Gateway, IU Jacobs School of Music, IU Kelley School of Business, IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, IU School of Education, IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology, Korea Foundation, Little 500, Max Baucus, Michael A. McRobbie, Seoul, Shanghai, South Korea, Tsinghua, Tsinghua University, U.S. Ambassador to China, Young Pioneers
A cold front blew through Beijing this morning, meaning the temperatures outside finally would match the many Christmas decorations adorning our hotel and the various places we’ve visited.
The weather change also provided members of IU’s delegation with an extremely rare clear view of Beijing’s skyline, as the shifting winds swept out much of the thick and dangerous smog that typically envelops the air here. (Upon our arrival, Beijing’s color-coded air-quality monitor signaled a dark purple, or “very unhealthy,” just one notch above “hazardous.” Remarkably, today’s readings turned up green, or “good.”)
The scene above the bustling streets of Beijing, the world’s third-most populous city at more than 20 million people, includes an impressive array of skyscrapers, several of which stand among the tallest in the world. Among them are such awe-inspiring architectural marvels as the new CCTV Headquarters, which the locals refer to as “Big Pants” (many of China’s biggest buildings have quirky colloquial nicknames that, as it turns out, are fairly accurate descriptors); Beijing National Stadium (“The Bird’s Nest”), which was built specifically for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games; and the National Centre of the Performing Arts (“The Giant Egg”), with its ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass.
Many of the city’s most magnificent structures were designed during recent building booms in Beijing that have come to reflect the remarkable political, economic and cultural transformation this country, one of the cradles of the world’s civilization, has undergone over the better part of the last half century.
Since the introduction of major economic reforms in 1978, which moved the country toward a more market-based economy, relying largely on investment- and export-led growth, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies on the planet. China also continues to invest heavily in higher education to enhance the quality and competitiveness of its universities and in academic research with the goal of further accelerating the country’s growth.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given China’s emphasis on innovation and its ever-expanding influence in world affairs, Indiana University students are increasingly turning their attention to cities like Beijing and elsewhere in China as they consider overseas study opportunities that will best prepare them to meet the challenges of a 21st-century global marketplace. In fact, in just the past decade or so, our students’ interest in studying in China has risen from a relatively low level to where China now ranks among the top five places they want to travel. Consequently, IU has focused increasing attention on developing strong and meaningful institutional partnerships with the top universities here, which have resulted the establishment of a number of successful student exchange programs and dual degree programs.
Pathways to productive global partnership
As part of a continuation of this core part of the university’s international engagement mission, IU President Michael A. McRobbie began the day with an early morning meeting with Chinese Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Chen Zhenggao. The ministry provides housing and regulates government construction activities in the country, including a number of new initiatives to improve China’s roads and energy supply.
Then, McRobbie and members of IU’s delegation made their way to the northwest section of downtown Beijing for meetings with senior administrators and faculty at Beijing Normal University, one of China’s oldest and most prestigious universities.
IU and BNU have enjoyed a nearly decade-long successful collaboration, involving both the IU School of Education and the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, two of the university’s most globally engaged schools, that has generated numerous faculty and student exchanges and research collaborations.
Today, McRobbie and Zhou Zuoyu, vice president of BNU, formalized the partnership between the universities by signing a new primary agreement between the School of Education and BNU’s Institute of International and Comparative Education. The agreement calls for the creation of a new China-U.S. Joint Research Academy for International Education, and it also lays the groundwork for a more extensive set of partnership research activities between the two universities in the area of comparative education, as well as in math and science education, higher education administration and language education.
McRobbie was quick to credit the late IU School of Education professor Heidi Ross for serving as the driving force behind the latest phase of the IU-BNU partnership. Ross, who passed away this year, wrote and researched extensively on developments in Chinese education, gender socialization and environmental education in Chinese schools, often working alongside her colleagues at BNU, and she was a powerful advocate for greater numbers of students and faculty working in China. She also served as director of IU’s East Asian Studies Center and co-directed the Australian National University-IU Pan Asia Institute, part of IU’s School of Global and International Studies, since the institute’s founding in 2009.
The trip to Beijing Normal University also offered leaders from both universities, including BNU President Dong Qi, a chance to talk openly about other opportunities to expand upon their partnership, which IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret described as one of IU’s “most active and rapidly growing relationships.”
IU and BNU possess common strengths in, among other academic disciplines, the arts and humanities, the social and natural sciences, and law, and they share similar goals regarding global engagement and finding ways to help more students study abroad before they graduate.
It was especially interesting to learn, for example, that BNU, like IU, owns its nation’s top-ranked program in the study of folklore. Likewise, it was heartening to hear that IU’s counterparts here in the humanities are equally interested in growing greater cultural awareness among their students through activities like the upcoming showcase of the Quilts of Southwest China at IU’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures, which will be co-curated by an IU student who earned a Master of Arts at BNU. The exhibition is just one of the many events and activities that will highlight IU Bloomington’s “China Remixed” festival. The festival, to occur over 10 weeks in the spring and feature several celebrated Chinese authors, artists, musicians and others, is designed to reflect all of the ways the arts and humanities of China affect IU and, in turn, how IU engages with those same areas.
Fulfilling the promise of an international education
Members of the delegation concluded their final hours in Beijing with a meeting in the office of U.S. Ambassador to China and former U.S. Senator Max Baucus.
The hourlong conversation covered a wide range of topics, including the ambassador’s observations of the current state of higher education in China and how U.S. colleges and universities might ensure more students pursue immersive study abroad experiences in China. The former Montana congressman also recounted his own experience as a young college student taking a year off school to backpack around the world, which sparked a lifelong interest and successful career in international affairs, and he even professed his adoration of the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat.
For his part, and at Ambassador Baucus’ urging, President McRobbie shared his impressions of Chinese students who come to study at IU, the impact IU has on them, the dreams they often achieve while at the university and the positive message they spread about their alma mater and America when they return to their home countries.
To this end, I leave you — and the great city of Beijing — with a video of spring’s IU Bloomington student commencement speaker. She is Grace Boya Shen, the first Chinese student to serve in this capacity at IU’s annual spring graduation ceremony. She gave a wonderful speech about her journey as an international student, which brought her halfway across the globe from her home city of Beijing to Bloomington, Ind.
“IU turned my small dream into a bigger dream,” she says in the video, which I encourage you to watch. “It’s a dream that we all share: to make this world a better place.”
Thanks for reading, and see you tomorrow in Shanghai!
Tags: Beijing, Beijing Normal University, China, China Remixed, David Zaret, Grace Boya Shen, Heidi Ross, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures, IU School of Education, IU School of Global and International Studies, Max Baucus, Michael A. McRobbie, U.S. Ambassador to China
Several years ago, and about a half dozen years before Elinor Ostrom became the first — and still only — woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview the distinguished IU professor in her modest, unassuming office on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. Before leaving for the meeting, a science writer colleague of mine (I normally covered the arts), gave me a quick primer on the political scientist’s path-breaking research on public policy, public administration and, most notably, the economic governance of common pool resources. But the crash course failed to make me feel better, and on my walk over to Ostrom’s office I fretted over how soon I would be exposed as someone completely ill-informed about such serious and important research.
As it turned out, Lin, as she was more commonly known, could not have been nicer, kinder or more patient. That day, she gave generously several hours of her time, walking me through years of scholarship in understandable, enlightening and, ultimately, fascinating fashion.
When the news arrived in 2009 that Lin was going to be awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her work on the commons, I, along with the rest of the IU community, felt immense pride in the fact that one of our own had scaled such extraordinary heights. And like so many other Hoosiers, I marveled at the remarkable level of her stardom. Now, more than four years after her death, she remains one of the most shining reflections of the depth, breadth and quality of education and research at IU, as well as the impact of the university’s engagement nationally and internationally.
‘The legacy of Lin’
Memories of my brief waltz into Lin’s world and her litany of achievements came flooding back to mind this morning here in Beijing, as IU President Michael A. McRobbie delivered the welcoming remarks at the Ostrom Symposium on the Study of the Commons, Governance and Collective Decision, held at the IU China Gateway office. Hosted by IU’s Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business — which is led by IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs professor Joyce Man, who is also the academic director of the IU China Gateway — and the Chinese Ostrom Society, the conference included some 75 or so attendees, many of whom are distinguished Chinese students and scholars who have been greatly influenced by the theories and methods associated with and developed by Lin and her late husband, Vincent. These students and scholars are also carrying on what might be described as “the legacy of Lin” through their own accomplished work around the globe as writers, researchers, development practitioners, advisers and more.
As President McRobbie explained in his welcoming remarks, Lin had a “profound impact” on development studies around the world, and she was largely responsible for the development of the study of the commons, a field that has exploded over the past quarter century. Her seminal book, “Governing the Commons,” dispelled conventional wisdom that the best arrangement for managing common property was either privatization or government control. And over nearly five decades of teaching and research at IU’s Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis, which she and Vincent co-founded and is now named in their honor, she employed a combination of social science methodologies and field research to reveal the capacity of people in local communities to solve their own problems with appropriate assistance.
Today’s conference illustrated the far-reaching nature of Lin’s legacy, which continues to thrive here in China. You might say Lin is somewhat of a rock star here. (Not to make light of it, but the gateway office looked a little today like the outside of Elvis’ Graceland, the walls lined with large photos of Lin and Vincent, dozens upon dozens of translated books and, best of all, several T-shirts with Lin’s face emblazoned on them, one of which was presented to McRobbie after his remarks.)
The Ostroms first visited China in 1997 and returned in 2007, 2009 and 2011 to participate in conferences and give lectures across the country. During these trips they visited many of China’s top universities and academies, including Tsinghua University, Renmin University, Peking University and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, as well as at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou. Former students and scholars affiliated with the workshop that Lin and Vincent founded in 1973 now have faculty positions at all of these universities.
Many of those attending today’s conference were members of the Chinese Ostrom Society, founded in 2009 to study and analyze the Ostroms’ ideas and methods on resource management and polycentric governance. The society features several scholars who have worked to translate Lin’s many writings into Chinese, including Wang Jianxun, an IU alumnus now on the faculty of the China University of Political Science and Law, and professor Mao Shoulong of Renmin University, whose team of writers has translated almost all of the Ostroms’ core works (more than a dozen books) and facilitated their publication in China.
More broadly speaking, Lin’s work has had a major impact on public policy circles in China and has been cited by Chinese scholars writing on topics such as forestry management, water resource management, and political and institutional economics. And as McRobbie indicated, her ideas on governing common pool resources will almost certainly continue to be crucial here, as the country works to manage its commons in the face of rising expectations and demand.
At the conclusion of his remarks, McRobbie thanked the “big family” in China for their presence at today’s symposium and their efforts to burnish Lin’s and her husband’s shared legacy.
“Their remarkable legacy endures through the work of scholars like all of you, who carry on their work by asking constructive questions that challenge conventional wisdom; by gathering empirical data and conducting research that can influence decision-makers in business, government and civil society; and by inviting us all to consider new perspectives on critical issues.”
Meeting with the ‘MIT of China’
Lin and Vincent would have been deeply gratified by the events and activities in which McRobbie and members of the IU delegation took part following Wednesday’s symposium and which suggested the strength of IU’s engagement here in China now and for the foreseeable future.
Upon leaving the symposium, the delegation headed to nearby Tsinghua University, which is consistently regarded as China’s top-ranked university. IU and Tsinghua, widely known as the MIT of China, have had a productive decade-long partnership focused on student exchanges and cooperative research; in 2014, IU dedicated its China Gateway office in the CERNET Tower in Tsinghua’s Science Park. In 2011, McRobbie participated in Tsinghua’s Global Education Conference, part of the university’s bicentennial celebration.
For nearly two decades, the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus has enjoyed a productive partnership with Tsinghua’s Department of Automotive Engineering focused on advanced hybrid and electric vehicles. This led to the establishment, in 2006, of the Transportation Active Safety Institute at IUPUI, a collaborative university, industry and government consortium to facilitate research in advanced active safety systems and technologies as well as automated and autonomous vehicles. Over the years, TASI has established academic partnerships with a number of leading academic automotive safety research centers in the U.S. and with Tsinghua.
While at Tsinghua, McRobbie met with Tsinghua Vice President Qiu Yong to discuss the partnership between their respective research universities. They also discussed possibilities for further strengthening the collaboration, including Tsinghua’s interest in welcoming more IU students studying in areas such as informatics, computer science and art and design to China, which ranks among the top countries where IU students study abroad. The two leaders then witnessed the signing of a new partnership agreement between IUPUI’s School of Engineering and Technology, represented by Dean David Russomanno, and Tsinghua’s Department of Automotive Engineering that will lead to joint research on autonomous cars and what these vehicles, capable of sensing their environment and navigating with no human input, their technological challenges and what they mean to the future of human mobility.
Later Wednesday afternoon, McRobbie also delivered a talk to Tsinghua faculty and students about the role of the world’s top universities in the preservation of knowledge in the digital age. In his remarks, McRobbie presented IU’s leadership in a number of large-scale and wide-ranging digitization projects over recent years, including partnerships with, among other organizations, IBM, Google, the Naitonal Science Foundation and the HathiTrust, which IU co-founded with the University of Michigan. He also described IU’s Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, an ambitious initiative established in 2013, aimed at preserving the university’s extensive collection of audio, video and film holdings by IU’s bicentennial anniversary in 2020.
Finally, the IU delegation made a brief stop at the magnificent and newly opened Tsinghua University Art Museum, which houses several centuries of Chinese painting and calligraphy, embroidery, porcelain, furniture, bronze ware and other artwork. With little time to see everything, the delegation spent about an hour touring a new exhibition on the work of Leonardo da Vinci, the largest public display of da Vinci’s authentic original sketches outside of Italy. The exhibition features 60 original sketches from the Codex Atlanticus, the largest collection of da Vinci’s papers ever assembled, along with his design models and his famous early-17th-century oil painting of The Last Supper.
The power of IU’s Chinese alumni
I could go on and on, of course, about IU’s strong partnerships with Tsinghua and other leading educational institutions in China; IU’s acclaimed programs in Chinese culture, history and languages; its flagship center in Mandarin, one of the few funded by the U.S government; and much more. But the story of IU’s engagement in China could not be complete without a few words about the university’s ever-increasing alumni engagement, particularly here in Beijing.
IU now has more than 5,800 alumni affiliated with China, and they continue to be a vital part of the life and impact of Indiana University around the world.
Tonight, President McRobbie and IU delegation members had the opportunity to meet with about 100 of the IU Alumni Association’s Beijing-based alumni, who constitute a rapidly growing alumni chapter and who were eager to hear about all of the many happenings back home in Indiana.
Fulfilling their wish, McRobbie described a banner year at IU, including several record-breaking achievements across the university. He also shared news of some exciting activities directly related to China, including the broadcasting of IU basketball games in Mandarin on IU’s athletics website, a development which, not surprisingly, many of our alumni were already well aware.
Perhaps most notably, he talked at length about the launch of a new global arts and humanities festival next spring at IU Bloomington, which, in its inaugural year, will focus on China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Chinese-American community in the U.S.
The theme of the festival will be “China Remixed,” and it will focus on contemporary Chinese arts and culture as they relate to today’s world through campus-wide exhibits, performances, film screenings and lectures. It will be the largest festival dedicated to Chinese arts and culture ever hosted in the Midwest, featuring world-renowned scholars, journalists, artists, musicians and writers, including the celebrated Chinese writer Ha Jin.
Among its many highlights, the festival will also feature a performance of Thunderstorm 2.0, a play ranked as one of the best performances in China in the past several decades in which a large crew joins actors on stage during the performance, creating a movie that is edited and screen above the stage in real time. It will also include a showcase of work from Beijing’s acclaimed 798 Art Zone attraction, as well as a groundbreaking exhibition on the Quilts of Southwest China at IU’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures, one of a number of organizations on IU’s campuses with growing cultural and research links to this part of the world.
As the hour approached 10 p.m. local time, the celebration, now going on three hours, continued with many happy and proud alumni lining up to shake hands, share stories and even take several selfies with President McRobbie. One truly couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ending to a busy, exciting and productive day, one that offered strong testimony to the ever-expanding power of an IU education from Bloomington to Beijing and everywhere in between.
Tags: Beijing, China, China Remixed, David Russomanno, Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University Alumni Association, IU Athletics, IU China Gateway, IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures, IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology, Joyce Man, Michael A. McRobbie, Tsinghua, Tsinghua University, Vincent Ostrom
It’s truly a fascinating time to be in Seoul right now. As Americans back home continue to navigate the wake of a long and contentious election, South Koreans are dealing with their own political uncertainty, with the nation’s embattled president, Park Geun-hye, facing an impeachment vote that could come as early as Friday. Indeed, Seoul has been swallowed up by six straight weeks of massive protests, the largest ongoing series of demonstrations in South Korea since the movement to democratize the country nearly 30 years ago.
Putting aside partisan politics at home and the specific issues here concerning the controversies involving the country’s troubled leadership, one would be hard-pressed to find a more compelling backdrop for the IU delegation’s return trip to South Korea. That’s especially true of today’s meetings with top education and government officials, each of which centered on the critical importance of educational exchanges that enable greater understanding of other peoples, political forces and cultures in today’s increasingly interconnected world.
A ‘Midwestern hub’ for Korean studies
For a quarter century now, the Korea Foundation — headquartered in Seoul and the first stop in a series of IU delegation meetings today — has made it its mission to foster cultural exchange that broadens understanding of Korea within the international community. The foundation also seeks to increase friendship and goodwill between Korea and the rest of the world. To accomplish these goals, the foundation has organized and supported various activities inside and outside Korea aimed at fostering international exchange and research.
In recent years, Korean society has experienced rapid modernization on an unprecedented scale, with dramatic transformations in its political, economic and cultural sectors. Today, the country’s economy is the fourth largest in Asia and the 11th largest in the world. It is also among the world’s most technologically advanced and digitally connected countries, as well as one of our nation’s most important strategic and economic partners.
At IU — a university with great strengths in Korean language instruction going back a half century, more than 70 foreign languages taught and acclaimed area studies programs — The Korea Foundation has found a willing, energetic and extremely able partner.
In 2012, major support from the foundation helped make possible — along with donations from successful IU alumni Young-jin Kim, William Joo and a third anonymous donor — IU’s first endowed chair in Korean studies and first such position to be established at IU’s School of Global and International Studies, now held by Seung-kyung Kim, a professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.
Earlier this fall, the foundation enabled the launch of IU’s new Institute for Korean Studies, one of the only such academic institutes of its kind in the U.S., which educates students on various aspects of contemporary Korea. The launch was preceded by a conference that delivered many of the nation’s most distinguished Korea scholars to IU’s Bloomington campus to discuss the establishment of Korean studies in the United States. The conference, “Peace Corps Volunteers: The Making of Korean Studies in the United States,” served as an important early success for the fledgling institute and added another chapter to IU’s storied history of engagement with Korea and, more broadly, East Asia.
This morning’s meeting at the foundation’s headquarters offered an opportunity for IU President Michael A. McRobbie, IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and Lee A. Feinstein, founding dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies and former U.S. ambassador to Poland, to thank The Korea Foundation, represented by Executive Vice President Keum-jin Yoon, for the founding chair position and its general commitment to IU’s new Institute for Korean Studies. As Feinstein reported, “the vote of confidence” The Korea Foundation has made in IU has rapidly accelerated the university’s strategic effort to become a Midwestern U.S. hub for advanced study of contemporary Korea — study that, up until now, has been mostly relegated to America’s East and West coasts.
Led by McRobbie, who is making his sixth visit to Korea as IU president, the IU contingent also was given the opportunity to explore the foundation’s future plans for the promotion of Korean studies in the U.S. and potential additional support for new faculty that will ensure IU’s new institute continue the progress it has made in deepening understanding and appreciation of this dynamic part of the world.
See video of the inauguration ceremony for the institute:
Giving more thanks
From the foundation, IU delegation members traveled to the Academy of Korean Studies, a Seoul-based research and educational institute dedicated to interpreting and analyzing traditional Korean culture, revitalizing the field of Korean studies and educating scholars. While there, McRobbie thanked academy President Ki-dong Lee for the academy’s support for the inaugural “Peace Corps Volunteers” conference at IU’s Institute for Korean Studies.
Members of the delegation also expressed IU’s appreciation to the academy for providing a five-year Core University Program grant totaling nearly $1 million over a five-year period that will allow IU to pursue a project designed to deliver Korean studies across the larger Midwest. As part of the project, IU’s new institute will work with faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the University of Kentucky; the University of Louisville; and Purdue University, to sponsor cultural and academic programming related to Korea at these institutions.
The IU delegation ended a busy and productive day with a trip to the National Assembly Building, which houses South Korea’s 300-member national legislature. The building, located on Yeouido Island in Seoul, is the largest national assembly building in Asia. With its large blue dome, it is one of the first notable landmarks visitors to Seoul see upon arriving in the city from Inchon Airport. There they met with National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, who presides over the governing body, and they were joined by Su-chan Chae, professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and chairman of the board of the Han River Society.
During a nearly hourlong sit-down meeting, President McRobbie, Speaker Chung and former Ambassador Feinstein engaged in a warm and friendly discussion about recent political events in both the U.S. and Korea, the tradition of friendship between the two nations, IU’s emphasis on engaging with regions of economic, political and cultural importance in the world, including East Asia, and the power of educational exchange to bring people of the world closer together.
The meeting provided a perfect wrap-up to an energizing and eventful (albeit too short!) several days here in Seoul, that saw IU reunite with old friends, re-engage existing partners who strongly support IU’s international mission and build new connections with Korea that promise to result in even greater engagement here in the years to come.
Next stop: Beijing!
Tags: Academy of Korean Studies, Chung Sye-kyun, David Zaret, Institute for Korean Studies, IU School of Global and International Studies, Keum-jin Yoon, Ki-dong Lee, Korea Foundation, Lee Feinstein, Michael A. McRobbie, National Assembly, Park Geun-hye, Seoul, Seung-kyung Kim, South Korea, Sun-chan Chae, William Joo, Young-jin Kim
A mere 24 hours after arriving in Seoul, members of the Indiana University delegation were treated to one of those special, energy-filled events that — along with providing a much-needed jolt to the jet-lagged — spotlight the extraordinary strength of the university’s connections around the world.
More than 300 IU international alumni made for a major welcoming party for IU President Michael A. McRobbie and his fellow delegation members, who participated in a rousing celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Korea Chapter of the Indiana University Alumni Association on Sunday evening in Seoul.
IU now has over 4,600 alumni affiliated with Korea, many of whom make up one of IU’s most dynamic and active alumni chapters anywhere in the world. Their unwavering loyalty, support and friendship to the university reflect IU’s longstanding relationship with the East Asian region of the world and, more specifically, its deep and extensive ties to Korea.
Those connections encompass successful partnerships with many of Korea’s leading research and educational institutions. In 1986, the same year IU’s Korean alumni chapter was founded, IU began a partnership with Yonsei University in the form of a student exchange agreement. Today, IU also has strong partnerships with Seoul National University, Sunghyungkwan University and Ewha Womans University. (A great new IU website contains a searchable database of all of IU’s international partners.)
More than 9,000 international students are enrolled at IU; of that number, more than 800 students are from Korea, making it the third-leading country of origin for international students at IU. Over 11 percent of international students at IU Bloomington come from Korea, and they continue to make vital contributions to the academic and cultural life of the campus.
And of course, none of us who were fortunate to be here in Korea last year will soon forget experiencing the first-ever Asian tour by the IU Chamber Orchestra, part of IU’s world-renowned Jacobs School of Music. Though this blogger wrote a great deal about the tour on a previous presidential trip blog, at times it truly was challenging to put into the proper words just how much this opportunity meant to IU’s student musicians, several of whom were returning to their home country to perform in front of family and friends at illustrious venues such as the Seoul Arts Center.
A new chapter
Tonight’s event provided President McRobbie and two of his fellow delegation members an opportunity to share — with several generations of its Korean alums — the latest chapter in IU’s ever-expanding engagement in East Asia.
First up during the IU portion of the presentation was professor Seung-kyung Kim, who, just over a year ago, joined IU as the founding Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies and director of IU’s new Institute for Korean Studies. The institute, housed in IU’s School of Global and International Studies, was created through generous support from The Korea Foundation, whose contribution also made possible the first endowed chair in Korean studies, and donations from prominent alumni Young-jin Kim and William Joo and a third anonymous Korean donor.
(A brief word here about two of IU’s most successful international alumni. Young-jin Kim received an MBA from IU’s Kelley School of Business in 1984. He is chairman and CEO of Handok Pharmaceuticals Co., which develops and provides prescription and over-the-counter medication. William Joo received an MBA from the Kelley School of Business in 1987 and is chairman of MediaWill Co., which produces specialty magazines and their companion websites. Their grant, delivered in 2002, represented a watershed moment in IU’s history of international engagement, as it was the first time that international alumni, in combination with a government organization, contributed in a major way to supporting academic programs at IU through the funding of a chair focused on their home country.)
During her remarks, Seung-kyung Kim offered an overview of the new institute, which seeks to become one of the leading centers of Korean scholarship and teaching in the nation, while enhancing IU’s academic programs on one of the most dynamic and increasingly influential countries in the world. She also talked about several recent exciting developments at the institute.
The institute already has been awarded two grants from the Korea-based Academy of Korean Studies, the largest of which will support expanding the Korean studies curriculum at IU and assisting in recruiting graduate students. Additionally, the institute hosted a major conference earlier this fall that brought many of the nation’s most distinguished Korea scholars to campus to discuss the establishment of Korean studies in the U.S.
Following Kim’s remarks, Lee A. Feinstein, founding dean of IU’s School of Global and International Studies, presented the alums in attendance with a picture (literally and figuratively) of the new school, its mission of preparing students to live, work and succeed in an increasingly globalized world, and how quickly the school has transformed into a Midwestern hub for the finest international scholars and scholarship.
When McRobbie took the stage, he immediately paid special thanks to the past and present chapter officers who have made IU’s Korean alumni chapter so remarkably successful and presented a special plate to Young-jin Kim and William Joo commemorating the chapter’s 30-year anniversary. McRobbie then delivered an update on what he described as a “banner year” at IU, one filled with a number of historic achievements across the university, including record enrollment of international students this fall and a record for the number of students studying abroad.
“That the university continues to progress in such a remarkable fashion is testimony to the dedication and generosity of thousands of IU alumni and friends,” McRobbie said. IU’s alumni are, he continued, the university’s “greatest ambassadors,” and their successes are testimony to the power of an IU education.
Finally, the evening closed with a concert by a group of Jacobs School of Music alumni, who performed a five-song set culminating with a Korean-language version of the popular Christmas carol “Silent Night.” As the string musicians played and the singers sang so beautifully, one couldn’t help but think back to those inspiring Chamber Orchestra performances here in Seoul last year and look ahead to many more harmonious arrangements between IU and a country halfway across the world where the Hoosier spirit is so strong.
Tags: Academy of Korean Studies, Indiana University Alumni Association, Institute for Korean Studies, IU Jacobs School of Music, IU Kelley School of Business, IU Korea Chapter, Korea Foundation, Lee Feinstein, Michael A. McRobbie, Seoul, Seung-kyung Kim, William Joo, Young-jin Kim
Beginning Dec. 2, an Indiana University delegation led by IU President Michael A. McRobbie will embark on a weeklong trip to South Korea and China. There, the university will seek to strengthen its connections with partner universities, leaders in education, business and government, and its numerous East Asian alumni, many of whom have gone on to highly successful careers in their home countries.
While in Beijing, McRobbie will deliver opening remarks at a U.S.-Chinese symposium on the impact of the research of the late Nobel laureate and IU Distinguished Professor Elinor Ostrom, whose path-breaking work on public choice, institutionalism and the commons continues to have a profound impact on students and scholars around the world, including in China.
The symposium take place at the IU China Gateway, one of IU’s three Global Gateway offices around the world that are connecting IU’s community with resources that make possible, among other activities, international research, teaching, workshops, conferences and study abroad program development.
While in China, McRobbie will also sign a cooperative agreement between the IU School of Education and the Institute of International and Comparative Education at Beijing Normal University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China, and another agreement between Tsinghua University and the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Tsinghua University, often described as the MIT of China, is consistently regarded as China’s top-ranked university, and IU and Tsinghua have had a productive decade-long partnership focused on student exchanges and cooperative research.
During the trip to Tsinghua, McRobbie will also deliver a lecture on IU’s leadership in digitization and visualization, with particular focus on IU’s Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, an ambitious initiative aimed at preserving the university’s extensive collection of audio, video and film holdings.
Also in China, he will preside over alumni gatherings in Beijing and Shanghai. IU has more than 5,800 alumni affiliated with China, and more than 3,200 students from the country are enrolled at IU, representing over a third of the university’s international student body.
The trip will start in Seoul, where McRobbie, Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret — whose office has organized the trip — and other delegation members will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the IU Alumni Association’s Korean chapter.
Worldwide, IU now boasts more than 4,600 alumni affiliated with Korea, many of whom are members of the Korean alumni chapter, one of IU’s most active international alumni chapters.
The 30th anniversary celebration will be highlighted by a concert by IU Jacobs School of Music graduates, part of a continuing special relationship between one of our nation’s foremost music schools and Korea (the Jacobs School Chamber Orchestra embarked on a tour there in 2015). The event will also feature a talk by Seung-kyung Kim, founding Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies and director of IU’s new Institute for Korean Studies. The institute, inaugurated earlier this fall at IU’s School of Global and International Studies, builds on the university’s longstanding commitment to the study of East Asian and Pacific nations, specifically Korea. IU began offering the first Korean language courses in the Midwest in 1962 through the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, now the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.
More than 9,000 international students are enrolled at IU. More than 800 of those students are from Korea, making Korea the third leading country of origin for international students at IU.
For many decades now, East Asia has been central to IU’s global mission. That mission, as outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, calls for IU to cement its position as one of the world’s pre-eminent global universities by increasing study abroad opportunities for its students, recruiting talented foreign scholars to its campuses and strengthening its connections with the university’s many international alumni living and working around the world. These efforts are all part of IU’s ever-expanding Global Gateway Network, which includes offices in Beijing, New Delhi and Berlin.
IU’s expansion of partnerships and alumni outreach in South Korea and China reflects the university’s legacy of global engagement that is intended — in the words of the university’s legendary 11th president, Herman B Wells — to bring Indiana to the world and the world to Indiana.
I’ll serve as your eyes and ears to IU’s time in both countries, delivering first-hand, real-time reports of many of the delegation’s daily activities, sharing information about our strong ties to East Asia and offering insights into IU’s ongoing effort to enhance its international engagement efforts.
I hope you will follow along and check in frequently as I share news, photos and updates, and please feel free to reach out to me directly with questions at email@example.com.
See you soon in Seoul!
Tags: Beijing, Beijing Normal University, China, David Zaret, Elinor Ostrom, Institute for Korean Studies, IU China Gateway, IU Jacobs School of Music, IU Korea Chapter, IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, IU School of Education, IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology, Korea, Korea Foundation, Michael A. McRobbie, School of Global and International Studies, Seoul, Tsinghua University