China at Penn

Today, Penn's relationships with China is strong, and continues to grow. Faculty from all of Penn's 12 schools have reported over 350 research projects and instructional activities in China. 


Penn was one of the first universities in the United States to offer the study of East Asia. The formation of the world-famous collection of Chinese and Japanese art at the University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in the late 19th century was followed in the 1920s by courses in language and civilization. After World War II, Penn spearheaded the study of modern East Asia, adding social science, business, and professional curricula, and established CEAS itself in 1995.

CEAS is an interdisciplinary unit composed of faculty members whose teaching and research focus primarily on China, Japan, Korea, and bordering areas. The Center augments the study of East Asia across Penn by coordinating and supporting related courses and research; administering bachelors degrees and minors in East Asian Area studies; directing high school and faculty development programs; offering outreach to educational, business, and professional communities; and sponsoring conferences, colloquia, and speakers on related topics.


  • New Media, the Internet, and a Changing China, 2014: Co-sponsored by Penn’s Center for the Study of Contemporary China and the Beijing University School of Journalism & Communication, this one-day international seminar featured leading scholars, journalists, and bloggers engaged in an open discussion on the impact of new media on contemporary Chinese society.

  • CSCC Annual Lecture: The CSCC hosts an annual lecture by a prominent American or Chinese policymaker, diplomat, or public intellectual. Past lectures include “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China” by New Yorker China Correspondent Evan Osnos  and The Course of US-China Relations: Its Evolution and Prospects by Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. (C ’87), former US Ambassador to China.

  • CSCC Annual Conference: The CSCC organizes yearly academic conferences focused on contemporary China, featuring leading experts from institutions around the world who serve as discussants on important issues regarding contemporary China.

  • Friday Forums: The CSCC convenes an informal weekly session where graduate students and faculty can informally introduce or present work in progress, share information, and learn more about the kinds of work on contemporary China being done across Penn’s campus. 

  • CSCC Policy Roundtables: The CSCC hosts roundtables of Penn faculty and invited outside experts to address pressing policy issues that increasingly confront contemporary China or US-China relations.

  • CSCC Speaker Series: Each year, the CSCC invites leading experts to Penn to present their research and share their knowledge about contemporary China in an interactive session open to the entire Penn community.

  • CSCC Film Series

  • CSCC Undergraduate Presentation Series facilitates and highlights undergraduate research at Penn on contemporary China through campus presentations.

  • CSCC Student Symposiums

  • The CSCC Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program hosts experts in the study of contemporary China who have established themselves as intellectual leaders in advancing our understanding of the political, legal, economic, and social factors shaping China and its role in the world today. 

  • The CSCC Visiting Research Scholar Program hosts emerging experts in the study of contemporary China who are at an early stage of their careers.

  • The CSCC Postdoctoral Fellow Program supports research on all aspects of the political, legal, economic, and social factors shaping China and its role in the world today. Postdoctoral fellows pursue their own research and participate in the activities of the Center. 

  • Research Assistance: To facilitate research on contemporary China at Penn, the CSCC is establishing a database that includes undergraduate and graduate students at the University who have the specialized expertise to assist faculty conducting research relevant to the themes on which the CSCC focuses (political, legal, economic, and social factors shaping China and its role in the world today).


Chinese / American Association for Poetry and Poetics (CAPP): Founded in 2008 by the Kelly Writers House and leading scholars in China and the U.S., CAPP is headquartered at Penn’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. CAAP is an international academic organization devoted to the scholarship and translation of North American poetry in China and Chinese poetry in North America, with a commitment to see both in a global context and a membership that includes leading scholars and poets from around the world. Under the leadership of chair Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University professor emerita and former president of the Modern Language Association of America and American Association of Comparative Literature) and vice-presidents Charles Bernstein (University of Pennsylvania professor and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences) and Nie Zhenzhao (Central China Normal University professor, vice president of the China National Association of Foreign Literature, and chief editor of Foreign Literature Studies), the organization sponsors academic activities such as scholarly conferences, exchanges, translation, and publication.

The Kelly Writers House has been inviting Chinese poets to read and performance their work for over a decade. Included in this list is poet Zhimin Li, whose reading and visit was supported by Writers without Borders, the Penn Provost’s international writer series at Kelly Writers House. Please follow these links for audio and video recordings of that event.


The Joint MBA/MA and JD/MA Chinese Language and Culture Programs, which bridge Wharton and Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences, have pioneered the integration of management education with international studies, advanced language training, and cross-cultural proficiencies for more than 25 years. An underlying premise of the Lauder Chinese Language & Culture Program curriculum is that effective cross-cultural management requires both a high level of language proficiency, which demonstrates abstract thinking and conceptual communication, and a correspondingly strong understanding of the history, culture, politics, and business practices of the Chinese-speaking world. The curriculum develops both dimensions and prepares students to understand the larger cultural context in which Chinese business takes place.


Penn Abroad administers a wide range of semester and academic year study abroad opportunities for Penn undergraduate students, as well as the summer International Internship Program.  These opportunities advance Penn’s global engagement, represent the diversity of disciplines and regions of the world, promote academic exploration at top-ranking partner institutions worldwide, and encourage sustained and deep engagement with other cultures. Penn Abroad offers the following study abroad programs in China and Hong Kong:

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) provides immigration assistance as well as a sense of community for the international population at Penn.

Global Support Services (GSS) supports the administrative and business functions of the University’s international activities. GSS works closely with the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives to advise and support central organizations, schools and centers on new and ongoing international activities. GSS also coordinates with other University departments that support global operations.


The Penn Libraries’ Chinese Collection acquires print and electronic materials in Chinese and provides research support to the campus Chinese studies community.  In addition to providing access to a growing suite of electronic resources, Van Pelt Library purchases books and journals from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, adding about 6,000 volumes annually.  Penn’s collection is strong in Chinese humanities and social sciences, with special depth in the fields of archeology, pre-modern literature and history, and linguistics.  Most of the Collection’s 190,000 volumes are located on the fifth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center on Penn’s campus, together with the Derk Bodde East Asian Seminar Room, which houses our reference collection and also serves as a teaching and research space for faculty and students in East Asian studies.

Brian Vivier, Penn’s Chinese studies librarian, consults frequently with faculty and students on their information and research needs in addition to leading a graduate student reading group in Classical Chinese sources.  With a postdoctoral fellowship from the Social Science Research Council in 2012-2013, he traveled extensively in China to continue his research work on medieval Chinese economic history and at the same time exploring materials for the Chinese Collection.


The Penn Museum is home to a world-class collection of Chinese art, from bronzes and jades from the earliest periods of China's history, through monumental sculpture of the medieval period, to literati paintings, textiles, and ethnographic collections from the late imperial and modern periods. The permanent display of the Chinese collection has been housed since 1915 in the soaring "Chinese Rotunda," the largest gallery in the Museum and one of the most spectacular architectural spaces on the East Coast of the United States.

The more than 5,000 objects in the collection, of which 123 are on display, are an accessible resource for research by international scholars, for Penn's global student population, and for public education about China and its historical importance. The Museum hosts a steady stream of specialists from China, the US, and all over the world. It is home to scholarly conferences and public talks on Chinese history and culture, including a recent symposium on the history of music in China, as well as an annual celebration of Chinese New Year. Many Penn faculty in the departments of East Asian Languages and Civilization, History, the History of Art, and Religious Studies teach undergraduate and graduate classes that make use of the China Gallery and the Museum's collections. The Museum provides students of China with the opportunity to work up-close with artifacts in the Museum's collection study rooms and laboratories.


Historically and currently, EALC faculty members are distinguished by research in Chinese science, including medicine; Chinese architecture; Dunhuang studies; Silk Road studies; and philosophers and writers of China’s Classical Age. Recent books on China by EALC faculty include: After Confucius: Studies in Early Chinese Philosophy; China’s Early Mosques; Chinese Architecture in an Age of Turmoil, 200-600; Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts; Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature; Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature; Confucianism; The Culture of Sex in Ancient China; Experimental Essays on Zhuangzi; Granting the Seasons: The Chinese Astronomical Reform of 1280; Hawaii Reader in Chinese Culture; Liao Architecture; Medicine, Philosophy, and Religion in Ancient China; Rituals of the Way: the Philosophy of Xunzi; Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China; The True History of Tea; and Wandering on the WayEarly Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu.

At any given time, Penn EALC faculty collaborates with faculty and institutions across China. In recent years, Professors Nancy Steinhardt and Victor Mair have been involved in collaborative research projects with colleagues at Tsinghua and Beijing Universities in Beijing, as well as Fudan and Tongji in Shanghai, Nanjing and Southeast Universities in Nanjing, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, and Lanzhou University in Gansu. Assistant Professor Adam Smith collaborates with colleagues in Anyang, Henan province.

At any given time, the EALC also hosts approximately fifteen researchers sponsored by the China Scholarship Council.  In the last three years, faculty and students have come from: Beijing, Tsinghua, Nanjing, Fudan, Tongji, and Tianjin Universities as well as Southwest University in Chongqing, Shanghai Normal, Dalian University of Technology, and China University of Political Science and Law. As part of the EALC’s participation in the Inter-University Program, a Chinese language teacher from Tsinghua University also participates in our Mandarin program every year.

The Chinese Language Program, in the College of Arts & Sciences Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations is the center of the study of pre-modern China at the University of Pennsylvania.  Established in the 1930s, the program today offers nearly 40 different undergraduate courses, majors’ seminars, and graduate courses. More than 600 students take courses in the Chinese program in a typical year, and Penn EALC alumni currently teach at Beijing and Tsinghua Universities in Beijing, Fudan and Jiaotong Universities in Shanghai, and Zhejiang Universities, among others.


The Annenberg School’s Center for Global Communication Studies has, since its founding in 2006, developed positive ties with Chinese institutions, creating opportunities for Penn students, faculty, and international students and visiting scholars.


The Penn Law School's relevant activities and programs include the East Asia Law Review and the Penn Asian Pacific American Law Association is the largest student-run organization at Penn Law. It provides academic support and professional development to its members, actively engages with the APA legal community, and hosts an annual conference for law students and legal professionals across the nation.

Learn More About Penn & China


History of Penn in China






Global Activity Map


History of Penn in China






Global Activity Map