BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University recently concluded a successful weeklong trip to South Korea and China, where IU President Michael A. McRobbie led efforts to create new intercultural and international opportunities for IU students and faculty and met with alumni and government officials in support of the university's international engagement.
In China, McRobbie signed a cooperation agreement between the IU School of Education and the Institute of International and Comparative Education at Beijing Normal University, formalizing a decade-long partnership between IU and one of China's oldest and most highly respected universities. He also signed an agreement between Tsinghua University, China's top-ranked university, and the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which will result in joint research on autonomous cars.
In South Korea, McRobbie and fellow IU delegation members helped celebrate the 30th anniversary of the IU Alumni Association's Korea Chapter, one of the university's most active international alumni groups.
They also met with officials of The Korea Foundation, which earlier this year enabled the launch of the university's new Institute for Korean Studies, one of the only academic institutes of its kind in the U.S., which educates students on various aspects of contemporary Korea.
The trip was McRobbie's eighth official trip to China and sixth to South Korea since becoming IU president in 2007. It was organized by the office of IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret, who accompanied McRobbie as a member of IU's delegation.
"Each of our trips, and this was no exception, has served to initiate new and important relationships aimed at providing IU students with added opportunities to study abroad, as well as new research collaborations for our faculty, in one of the most economically, politically and culturally dynamic regions of the world," McRobbie said. "Through our continually increasing engagement in East Asia and the enhanced connections we have fostered through the IU China Gateway office, we are making outstanding progress toward our goal of encouraging more students to study overseas in strategically important countries and achieving greater diversity on our campuses, ensuring that IU students are fully prepared for the competitive global marketplace they will enter after they graduate."
On Dec. 7, McRobbie gave opening remarks at the all-day "Ostrom Symposium: the Study of the Commons, Governance and Collective Decision in China" at the IU China Gateway office in Beijing. Leading scholars and practitioners from across China and IU discussed the lasting legacy and impact of work by the late Nobel Prize winner and distinguished IU faculty member Elinor Ostrom and her husband, Vincent Ostrom, in China.
Many of those in attendance were members of the Chinese Ostrom Society, founded in 2009 to study and explore the Ostroms’ ideas and methods on resource management and polycentric governance.
The society features several scholars who have worked to translate Elinor Ostrom's many writings into Chinese, including Wang Jianxun, an IU alumnus now on the faculty of the China University of Political Science and Law, and professor Mao Shoulong of Renmin University, whose team of writers has translated almost all of the Ostroms’ core works -- more than a dozen books -- and facilitated their publication in China.
Following the Ostrom symposium and the agreement signing at Tsinghua University, McRobbie delivered an address to Tsinghua students and faculty on the role of universities in preserving knowledge and IU’s worldwide leadership in the area of media digitization and preservation.
Also in China, McRobbie also met with U.S. Ambassador to China and former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus to discuss, among other topics, how to ensure that more U.S. students study abroad in China and IU’s success in expanding its presence here through its Global Gateway Network. Along with its office in Beijing, IU also has Global Gateway offices in Berlin, Germany, and Gurgaon, India, just outside the Indian capital of New Delhi.
While in Seoul, McRobbie, Zaret and IU School of Global and International Studies Dean Lee A. Feinstein discussed with Korea Foundation officials their plans for further promotion of Korean studies in the U.S. They also discussed potential additional support for new faculty that will ensure that IU’s new institute continue the progress it has made in deepening understanding and appreciation of this dynamic part of the world.
They also met with Chung Sye-kyun, speaker of the nation's 300-member legislature, the Korean National Assembly. They were joined by Su-chan Chae, a respected economist and professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and chairman of the board of the Han River Society.
IU has developed strong partnerships with many of Korea’s leading research and educational institutions. In 1986, the same year its alumni chapter was established, IU began a partnership with Yonsei University that led to an exchange of students, and the university also has strong partnerships with Seoul National University, Sungkyungkwan University and Ewha Womans University.
IU's ties to Korea were further strengthened last year with the first-ever Asian tour by the IU Chamber Orchestra, which is part of IU's renowned Jacobs School of Music. Last week, an orchestra of Jacobs School graduates living in Korea performed a special concert at the 30th anniversary celebration for IU's Korean alumni chapter.
In addition to the alumni event in Seoul, McRobbie presided over large alumni gatherings in Beijing and Shanghai, two chapters that are becoming increasingly active as they add new members and as the university continues to strengthen its partnerships in China.
"The success of our alumni in both of these dynamic countries is a testimony to the power of an Indiana University education around the world and is a promise of the future for prospective students," McRobbie said. "The warm welcome we receive from our alumni and our academic partners speaks to how highly they regard Indiana University."
More than 4,600 IU alumni are affiliated with Korea, and more than 5,800 alumni are affiliated with China.
China ranks among the top five places where IU students study abroad. Consequently, IU has focused increasing attention on developing strong and meaningful institutional partnerships with the top universities there, which have resulted in the establishment of a number of successful student exchange programs and dual-degree programs.