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 and engagement with the Penn Wharton China Center.  

Primary Goals of the Fund

The primary goals of the fund are:

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

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

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

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

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.

Priority Themes

The Penn China Research and Engagement Fund supports projects with a clear plan for sustainable, long-term impact beyond the five-year-period of the Fund.  Managed by Penn Global on behalf of the Office of the Provost, the Fund supports faculty members across all twelve schools with interdisciplinary projects under the following overarching themes. 

Penn has long been at the forefront of understanding China’s health and healthcare environment through a variety of interdisciplinary activities. CREF projects led by the Perelman School of Medicine, Penn Nursing, and Penn Dental have advanced research on Chinese healthcare, provided on-the-ground clinical training in China, and spearheaded initiatives to improve patient outcomes.

As China plays an increasingly prominent role on the international stage, understanding China’s economic landscape and the country’s drive to transform itself into an innovation powerhouse becomes crucial. CREF recipients from the Wharton School, the School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Law, and the School of Veterinary Medicine have undertaken projects investigating diverse corners of private enterprise in China, state regulation, and the delicate balance between the two.

By 2030, one billion people will be living in Chinese cities. This scale and speed of urbanization is unprecedented in human history, and with it come significant challenges and changes for both China’s physical environment and its cultural landscape. CREF projects led by Penn’s School of Design and the Wharton School have interrogated the many uses of public space in China, Chinese speculative development at home and abroad, the proliferation of aviation facilities that have accompanied urbanization, and more.

CREF recipients created short-term student study abroad opportunities for Penn students to learn about the functioning of the media in China, and have hosted conferences and workshops on topics ranging from linguistic diversity in China to transnational ethnography of Chinese-Caribbean communities.

We are always in search of the next big idea.  

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.