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Faculty, student exchanges with China discussed

March 23, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Creating strategies for increasing faculty and student relationships between Western Michigan University and targeted universities in Greater China is the focus of a forum set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 31, in Putney Auditorium of the WMU Fetzer Center. A highlight of the forum will be presentations by two keynote speakers who will address issues related to China's anticipated emergence as the world's No. 2 superpower.

The reservation-only event, called "Greater China Forum: Our Relationships with China, Taiwan and Hong Kong," is free and will bring together faculty, staff and administrators from across WMU, including 50 scholars who currently are conducting research in Greater China, as well as representatives from business and higher education organizations in Grand Rapids.

The keynote speakers will be Dr. Banning Garrett, director of Asia programs for the Atlantic Council of the United States and a former U.S. Department of Defense consultant, and Dr. Timothy Light, a retired WMU provost and faculty member who began his academic career at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Garrett's 8:45 a.m. talk will be followed by a question-and-answer period moderated by Dr. Roger Tang, WMU professor of accountancy and Upjohn Chair of Business Administration. Light will speak at 12:30 p.m. as part of the free luncheon program. Dr. Ronald Davis, WMU associate provost of international programs, will moderate the question-and-answer period that follows.

The forum is being co-sponsored by a U.S. Department of Education SACEP Grant and WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education, Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Haworth College of Business.

It will open at 7:45 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast, followed by welcoming remarks from Dr. Linda Delene, WMU provost and vice president of academic affairs. In addition to the keynote presentation, there will be breakout sessions in which members of various panels will report on China's economic development, WMU's research activities in Greater China, and opportunities for academic program development as well as faculty and student exchanges in Greater China. Moderated discussions will follow each session.

An expert in U.S./China relations, Garrett is an adjunct professor of political science at George Washington University For some 20 years prior to joining the Atlantic Council in 2003, he was a consultant to private industry and U.S. governmental agencies such as the Department of Defense. He also has been a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Garrett has written extensively on a wide range of issues, including U.S. strategy toward China, U.S.-China relations, Chinese foreign policy, and views of the strategic environment, arms control, globalization and its strategic impact, and U.S. defense policy and Asian security. His work has appeared in numerous edited volumes on Asian affairs and in such prestigious publications as the Asian Survey, Far Eastern Economic Review, Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly and New York Times.

During his presentation, Garrett will discuss the rise of China in the 21st century as an educational, economic and military powerhouse that increasingly will be directly competing with the United States. China is investing untold millions to build a higher education system that will rival America's Ivy League universities, but major initiatives such this are not limited by environmental, political, wage and other constraints as is often the case in democratic countries.

"The Chinese have updated their universities, with several that are now world class," Garrett says. "They have sent thousands of young and older scholars to the states to study, which has made a profound impact on understanding between our country and theirs. These are now some of the most prominent people in China, serving as professors and as advisors to top leadership."

Light, a professor emeritus of comparative religion and of Asian and Middle Eastern languages, came to WMU in 1991 and retired in 2003. He has written many scholarly books and articles for professional journals and has served as president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association and as vice president of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching.

He held several teaching and administrative positions at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1960 to 1971, and was a faculty member and director of the East Asia Study Center at the University of Arizona from 1974 and 1980. He also was chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at Ohio State University, provost and professor of Linguistics and Asian Studies at Kalamazoo College, acting president of Kalamazoo College, and president of Middlebury College.

During his presentation, Light will explain how China's model of expanding its global economic reach ahead of military development is aiding the country in achieving international prominence, and possibly even dominance.

"People specializing in China have long known that from both the American and Chinese side, there has been an extensive love/hate relationship between the two countries," says Light, whose academic career began at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1960. "It swings from romantic euphoria to denigrating demonization on the part of both countries. It is very important for world peace and security for us to get more real about each other."

To make a reservation to attend, call the forum chair, Dr. Bill Woods, in the Haenicke Institute at (269) 387-3956.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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