Colloquium focuses on ties with China

21 November 2008 | Story by Chris McEvoy

Bridge-building: A colloquium on relations with China was held at the Centre for African Studies recently. From left, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo and Dr Marcellette Williams, Senior Vice President at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst).

Would it be viable for UCT to establish a Confucius Institute?

This was the underlying question at a colloquium hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, which examined the role of Confucius Institutes in bringing African and Chinese universities together.

Nhlapo proposed the colloquium after the establishment of such a centre at UCT was first mooted.

The colloquium was opened by Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, who stressed the importance of globalisation and diversity in higher education. Keynote speaker Dr Marcellette Williams, senior vice-president at the University of Massachusetts, spoke on the future of higher education and its role in a changing society of "globo-sapiens".

"The future academic won't be a voice of confrontation but a voice of dissent, keeping alive the multiple ways of knowing," she said. "The public has entrusted us not to do their thinking for them, but to think out loud."

Dr Loveness Kaunda, director of internationalisation at UCT, explained that the purpose of the colloquium was to bring together academics and decision makers to discuss the possibility of establishing a Confucius Institute at UCT.

"We have to ask questions such as, what form it would take, who would govern it, and will it be sustainable?" she said.

Over 200 Confucius Institutes have been established at education institutions around the world to teach and promote Chinese languages and culture, and to provide an opportunity for the local community to access knowledge about China to facilitate social and business interactions.

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