Chinese officials complete economic, policy courseworkBy William Harms
An auditorium on the concourse of the Gleacher Center provided an unusual location for an equally unusual event — a graduation of sorts that took place last month for some 32 visiting Chinese mid- to upper-level officials who had completed 18 weeks of advanced training in public administration at the University.
The students were receiving certificates of completion, distributed by the appropriately robed Daniel Shannon, Dean of the Graham School of General Studies, under whose auspices the group had come, and Chin-Tu Chen, Associate Professor in Radiology and a director of the 21st Century Institute, which helped arrange the visit.
The Chinese government regularly sends leading members of its bureaucracy to study in the United States, and though this group was the first to study at Chicago for more than four months, other delegations are likely to follow, Shannon said.
The ceremony at the Gleacher Center went quickly, with certificates being distributed amid a flurry of photo taking. Afterward, there were more photos, as well as conversations between faculty and students, followed by a lunch.
Several Chinese delegates thanked and presented their business cards to Don Coursey, the Ameritech Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, who was one of about half a dozen Chicago faculty members who offered courses in the program.
“I taught them about microeconomics and the environment,” he explained. “I thought there were some things they could learn from America’s experience. We talked about the Clean Air Act, the role of markets and the importance of cost-benefit analysis in environmental regulation.”
Instead of tests, Coursey had the students prepare papers, which gave them a chance to work on their English as well as course contact. Students explained that improving their English was part of their goal during their visit, as well as learning about economics and other topics that are strengths at the University.
“We had very fruitful contact,” said Zongmin Zhou, an official with the China News Agency, who was a leader of the group.
“We received knowledge of how to use economics, so that it can be a bridge between China and the United States,” said Pengfei Gao, who works in a government job related to exports.
Chen said the Chinese were attracted to the University because of its strengths in public policy, business and the social sciences. The University’s location in a major metropolitan region also appealed to them, he said.