Embracing the Chinese century
The University of Sydney has a long history of leadership when it comes to Australia’s relationship with China.
We already have much to be proud about. Back in 1918, Sydney was the first university in Australia to teach Chinese language and culture, and after the Cultural Revolution (mid-60s–70s) it was one of the first universities in the Western world to welcome Chinese students.
Continuing that tradition, the University has just launched the China Studies Centre, a hub for cross-discipline research partnerships, leadership dialogue, and business/government development between Australia and China. Covering fields as diverse as history, business, environmental science, law, information technology, politics and public health, the centre opened its doors on 1 January 2011, with Professor David Goodman as interim director.
“We have considerable expertise on China,” says Professor Goodman. “We produce more cited research on China studies than anyone else in Australia, but until now it has never been brought together to create a critical mass.”
The centre will transform the way we approach China studies, and will lead to significant improvements in our relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Academics from every corner of the University will be brought together to explore the new horizons revealed by collaboration. For example, archaeologists studying Bronze Age China will join experts tracking cardiovascular disease in modern-day China. Professor Alan Dupont, international security expert, will work alongside historians of the Chinese Communist Party and experts on information technology, to examine China’s use of the internet.
The centre aims to have a positive effect offshore and at home. It will engage with provincial businesses and local tiers of government in major Chinese cities, including the Guangdong Province (NSW’s sister-state) to encourage deeper business connections, language and cultural links.
The Australian workforce will also benefit from the influx of experienced, China-literate graduates with specialised master’s qualifications gained through the centre.
For all these reasons, the China Studies Centre is an important step forward for both the University and Australia – enhancing our present relationship with China and laying the foundation for a warm and prosperous future. More than simply a good idea, Professor Goodman views this as a necessity.
“Australians need to know about China – the country and its culture – and we are here to provide that knowledge,” he says. “Our future economic growth, prosperity, social and cultural wellbeing depends on it.”