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May 2016

China Update

(4 May 2016)

As the second largest economy in the world with the largest population, China is a strategic priority for the University and Faculty. With more than 1950 Chinese students within Humanities, and research partnerships with a range of institutions, we already have a strong presence in this area.

Faculty China Strategy Group – part of our Internationalisation Strategy

The Faculty’s China Strategy Group, which has representatives from across the Faculty and Schools and is chaired by the Assistant Associate Dean of Internationalisation, aims to bring strategic direction and co-ordination to our activities in China, and will be focusing on developing a small number of strategic partnerships with key institutions in China. More details of the Faculty Internationalisation Strategy can be found on HumNet.

Strategic investment in research on China

Many colleagues in the Faculty, and across the University, undertake research on China and / or collaborate on research with Chinese academics. We are fostering this activity as part of our internationalisation strategy, and two new developments will help us to do this.

Cross-Faculty network due to launch

A new cross-Faculty network of colleagues working in this field is being developed. This will replace, and build upon, the Centre for Chinese Studies, which will close in July 2016 when current external funding ceases. Invitations to join the network are currently being finalised following a mapping exercise undertaken by Colette Fagan, Deputy Dean, in consultation with Heads of School.  Further details will be announced shortly, but any queries in the meantime should be addressed to Jared Ruff in the Faculty Research Office.

Investment in Chinese political economy and international relations

The Faculty has received a significant philanthropic donation, £500,000, from the University to support research in the broad field of Chinese political economy and international relations.

The funding will be used to extend the current research agenda, help build further research excellence, and bring together colleagues working in this field.

Deputy Dean and Associate Dean for Research, Colette Fagan, said “This is a timely and very welcome investment for the Faculty, which directly supports our research and Internationalisation strategies. Over the last few months there has been a lot of activity focused around China, and we are seeing some real impact in our activity. Through a range of initiatives we are beginning to drive forward our activity, at pace.” 

A key element of the investment will be a professorial appointment in Chinese Political Economy and International Relations, based in the School of Social Sciences, for which an international search is underway. In parallel, a postdoctoral research fellow, Dr Nan Zhang, has been appointed to work with Professor Cecilia Wong in the new Manchester Urban Institute within SEED, in connection with Cecilia’s recent success in securing a major ESRC-Newton Fund award for a research project on China: ‘Planning for Eco-Urbanisation’. Another postdoctoral early career research fellow in Chinese Political Economy, Dr Lei Wang, has been recruited, due to start in September 2016. Dr Wang’s research project is ‘The nexus of infrastructure development and sustainable spatial growth: the case of high-speed railway development in the Yangtze River Delta’.

Confucius Institute investment and development

The Confucius Institute, which focuses on the teaching of Chinese language and encouraging an understanding of Chinese culture and contemporary China through public and community engagement events, is based within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (SALC). It has received funding from the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), to further develop the partnership between The University of Manchester and the Beijing Normal University.

This will support their move to new premises in Waterloo Place in September. 

Dr Aaron Moore has also recently been appointed as the new Academic Director of the institute.

The Story of China

Professor of Public History within SALC, Michael Wood, has recently seen his six-part BBC documentary, The Story of China, broadcast on BBC Two. In the highly acclaimed series, he travelled across the country as he explored the landscapes, people, stories and cultures that helped create China’s distinctive character and genius over more than four thousand years.

and finally…University visit to China as part of City delegation

In July, our own Vice-President and Dean of Humanities, Professor Keith Brown, will join other University colleagues as part of a civic delegation to China to further strengthen the growing relationships between Manchester and China.  Both Manchester football teams will be touring at this time, and will play a derby match in Beijing.