Penn China Research and Engagement Fund

Launched in March 2015, the Penn China Research and Engagement Fund is a five-year, $10 million competitive matching program designed to stimulate and support activity in China.  

Fund Objectives

The primary goals of the fund are:

  1. To develop new, or strengthen existing, institutional and faculty-to-faculty relationships with Chinese partners.

  2. To support outstanding research projects from across the University that are poised to make significant contributions to their field.

  3. To increase the study and understanding of China at Penn and create opportunities for meaningful student engagement.

  4. To highlight the Penn Wharton China Center as a preeminent space in China for knowledge exchange and professional consultation.

Through the Penn China Research and Engagement Fund, we seek to deepen and strengthen Penn’s engagement with the goal of creating sustainable impact for the Penn community and beyond.

Application Requirements and Criteria

The Penn China Research and Engagement Fund supports activities that advance the study, teaching, and engagement of China. Managed by Penn Global on behalf of the Office of the Provost, the Fund supports faculty members across all twelve schools

Applications must be submitted by a Penn faculty member or senior administrator, must provide some form of matching funding or support equal to the amount requested from the Fund, and should engage the Penn Wharton China Center either as an event venue or outreach partner.   

CREF looks for proposals that include a clear plan for sustainable, long-term impact.  In addition, CREF encourages proposals that:

  1. Enhance the study, teaching, and engagement of China at Penn;

  2. Involve participants from multiple disciplines;

  3. Build durable partnerships between schools and centers at Penn as well as between Penn and external entities;

  4. Are relevant to policymakers, business leaders, and other external constituencies;

  5. Demonstrate availability and commitment of matching sources of funding and support.

Beginning in 2019, CREF will prioritize proposals that involve researchers, practitioners, and external partners from multiple disciplines; help raise Penn’s profile, visibility, and impact with respect to the study, teaching, and engagement of China; and convene both China and non-China specialists to examine issues or questions of significance to China and the world at large.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should submit a brief statement of interest via the Provost's Office online application portal that 1) describes the objectives and key components of the proposed project or activity; 2) outlines how it contributes to research, teaching, or policy engagement with respect to China; and 3) briefly states how the proposed project or activity meets the CREF evaluation criteria described below. Short-listed submissions will be invited to develop a full proposal in consultation with Penn Global. Awards are expected to be made before July 2019.

Expressions of can be submitted here and will be accepted until 12:00 PM Tuesday, April 30, 2019

An Information Session for prospective applicants will be held on 12:30 - 2:00 PM on Wednesday, March 20 at Perry World House.  

Prospective applicants are also encouraged to reach out to Penn Global with questions via email at or by phone at 215-898-5675. 

Learn More About the Fund

Interested in applying?  Received an award but have questions about fund management?  Check out our resources and tools for Fund Seekers and Fund Awardees.

Meet Previous Fund Recipients

Since 2015, the University of Pennsylvania has supported nearly 30 projects at a total funding level of nearly $6 million.  The work is carried out by faculty and staff representing all of Penn's 12 Schools, and all four research themes. 

Penn China Research Symposium

Each year, Penn Global and Penn China Initiatives host an interdisciplinary symposium to highlight and facilitate discussion on activities supported by the Penn China Research and Engagement Fund (CREF) and other China-related work at Penn.  The symposium features research “blitz” presentations, highlighting Penn faculty work across a broad range of fields, and programmatic workshops on conducting research and activities in China.  

Penn Wharton China Center

The Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) provides on-the-ground support for the growing numbers of programs, including all projects funded through the Penn China Research and Engagement Fund, and collaborations between Penn’s 12 schools and many academic, government,  and business partners throughout China.