Whether on television, in schoolbooks or making world news, Americans are paying a lot more attention to China.
Oswego too has been enhancing its programming partially in response to the growing influence of the world's largest country.
"Certainly, China is a rising economic power and there will be more opportunities for American businesses and workers to take advantage of," School of Business Dean Richard Skolnik said.
Business Professor June Dong plans to lead a group of about 10 students on a three-week program at Zhejiang Gongshang University near Shanghai. Students take morning classes and then spend the afternoon speaking - in English - with students there.
"That gives our students the opportunity to have a personal link and insight into Chinese culture," Skolnik said, adding that greater understanding of the culture is key to the School of Business' interest.
The school now has active partnerships with Zhejiang Gongshang, Shanghai Normal and Wuhan universities in China. To add to those "meaningful exchanges," the School of Business has hosted three scholars in residence from China, Skolnik said.
Oswego's campus also hosts its share of Chinese exchange students.
Of the 150 international students on campus, 67 are from China, according to the Office of International Education and Programs. Compare that to Fall 1998, when only one exchange student came from China.
Chinese influence has been steadily growing in recent years, in more ways then just the impression the nation left on Olympic games viewers stateside. For instance, at least seven high schools in Central New York offer Mandarin -- the most common Chinese dialect -- as a foreign language.
Oswego's modern languages department has grown its Chinese offerings to include some intermediate courses. A multi-department pitch for a Chinese cultural studies minor is in the works, modern languages Professor and Chair John Lalande '71 said.
Such a program would extend the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture to liberal arts students less interested in learning the language exclusively. A two-year grant from the U.S. Education Department could get the program going by fall if the application is approved.
The modern languages department has similar tracks for German and French cultural studies.
"We've always believed Chinese language and culture was important," Lalande said. "Now it seems the rest of the world is starting to realize that too."
As the country gains political, economic and military influence, it becomes important for students of all majors to develop some understanding of the language and culture.
"China is now a major economic power and influential world player," said Josh McKeown, director of International Education and Programs. "Now is an extraordinary time for our students to learn about China, and for Chinese students and faculty to learn about us."
Developing exchange and study abroad programs in China has been a priority for several years. McKeown credited his predecessor, Walter Opello, former Business Dean Lanny Karns and education Professor Xiaoqin Irminger for laying the groundwork.
"We're seeing evidence that we are on the right track and made the right decisions to grow our relationships in China," McKeown said, acknowledging study abroad in China still has plenty of room to grow before catching up with such popular options as Italy or Spain.
-- Shane M. Liebler
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