Leveraging Confucius Institutes for International Education and Exchange

In: The Rise of China-U.S. International Cooperation in Higher Education

This chapter discusses the unique role of the Confucius Institute program in advancing international cooperation in higher education between the U.S. and China. Initiated by China’s Ministry of Education in 2004, the primary aim of the Confucius Institute program has been to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchange. There are currently 500 Confucius Institutes operating throughout the world (in 123 countries) and 109 of them are located in the United States (Xu, 2016). This chapter provides an overview of the additional roles Confucius Institutes can play in U.S. higher education, particularly with regard to: (1) establishing new partnerships and linkages between U.S. and Chinese colleges and universities, (2) fostering educational mobility of students and scholars, and, (3) enhancing U.S. faculty engagement in international education and exchange. A case study will be presented as a model for how campus-based Confucius Institutes can be strategically leveraged to simultaneously advance all three roles. Other examples of institutional strategies will be highlighted as best practices for maximizing the role of Confucius Institutes in advancing international education and exchange.