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USC to Create New U.S.-China Institute

In Beijing with Board of Trustees, President Sample notes USC’s longstanding ties with China.

May 25, 2006

By Jon Weiner and James Grant
Originally pubished on May 25, 2006 in USC News

USC will establish a unique interdisciplinary institute to produce rigorous, policy-relevant social science research focused on the contemporary U.S.-China relationship, USC President Steven B. Sample announced in Beijing.

“By boosting our academic and research collaborations involving China, USC will better prepare our students – both domestic and international – for life and work in a global society,” Sample said.

The announcement of the new research center was made as Sample and members of the USC Board of Trustees participate in a weeklong visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

USC Provost C. L. Max Nikias said the goal of the new institute is to become a definitive new resource on the U.S.-China relationship.

“This unique interdisciplinary research institute will produce rigorous, policy-relevant research focused on the contemporary U.S.-China relationship broadly defined,” Nikias said. “The primary objective of the USC U.S./China Relations Research Institute is to become the place scholars, policy makers, students, government officials and journalists worldwide turn to for cutting-edge social science research on significant questions and long-term trends related to U.S.-China relations.

The new institution is envisioned to be a catalyst to attract top faculty working to determine the implications for this relationship of various developments in both countries including Asia, Latin America, and the world, Nikias added. It will also attract excellent Ph.D. and postdoctoral students in various disciplines within the social sciences.

Unlike other research centers, the U.S./China Relations Research Institute will work to develop innovative academic programs, including majors and minors for undergraduates and new areas of study for Ph.D. students. The institute will be university-wide, drawing together scholars from all disciplines and schools.

The U.S./China Relations Research Institute will host various categories of fellows each year: resident fellows drawn from USC; visiting and affiliated fellows from across the U.S., China and the world who will join the institute for defined periods of time; media fellows who will be drawn from reporters covering China and East Asia; and graduate fellows, consisting of Ph.D. and postdoctoral students working in this area and throughout the world.

The institute will be located on the University Park Campus to allow scholars and other fellows a place to interact and collaborate. It will host conferences and events, and will affiliate with other entities and scholars in China and the United States.


USC, which enrolls more international students than any major university in the United States, has a relationship with Chinese students that goes back more than 100 years. The university currently enrolls more than 1,500 Chinese students, more than any other American university, and counts more than 3,000 Chinese graduates among its alumni.

In 1978, USC was the first American university to visit China following the re-establishment of relations between the United States and China.

Sample was among the first to see that Los Angeles became the de facto capital of the Pacific Rim and he incorporated this insight into the USC strategic plan. In 1997 he co-founded the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), an influential consortium of 36 premier universities located in China and 14 other countries around the Pacific Rim. The group’s aim is to actively promote dialogue and collaboration between academic institutions in the Pacific Rim economies so that member universities can become effective players on a global scale.

Today, nearly all of USC’s schools are involved in ongoing collaborations, study abroad programs, curriculum review, or research in China. USC currently has more than 50 academic programs focused on China, involving faculty from USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the USC Marshall School of Business, and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering – who are conducting or collaborating on research involving China.

Research by USC faculty related to China includes the study of early fossils, the film industry, corporate management, medicine, elder issues, environmental changes, earthquakes, cultural events, and the use of the Internet in marketing and communications.

These collaborations also include the USC Marshall School of Business’ Global Executive MBA program– which is geared toward mid-career managers – at the prestigious Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. The first class of 45 MBA candidates at this overseas campus recently graduated with 104 students currently enrolled in the 21-month program.

Another important program is the Marshall School’s International Business Education and Research Program (IBEAR) MBA Program – an intensive 12-month, full-time program in international management. It is a challenging program rooted in practical skills with many unique features not found in more conventional MBA programs.