Yale and China

A Brief Summary of a Long Relationship

Yale University has had a longer and deeper relationship with China than any other university in the United States.  Its ties to China date to 1835 when Yale graduate Peter Parker opened China’s first Western style hospital, the Ophthalmic Infirmary, in Guangzhou. In addition to his pioneering work as a physician, Parker was one of the first Yale graduates to chronicle daily life in China.  His papers and medical illustrations, now housed in the Yale Medical Library, sparked the interest of Yale’s students and faculty in China.  This unique relationship has grown dramatically stronger over the years through joint educational and research projects, student and faculty exchange programs, and an ever-increasing number of Chinese students and scholars at Yale.

Landmark Events in the Yale-China History

1854 – Yung Wing graduates from Yale College and becomes the first person from China to earn a degree from an American college or university. His subsequent gift of a substantial portion of his personal library forms the nucleus of Yale’s East Asia Library’s Chinese collection, one of the major collections in the United States.

1878 – With the appointment of Samuel Wells Williams, a former American missionary and diplomat in China, the study of China becomes part of the Yale curriculum.

1901 – A group of Yale faculty and alumni launch the Yale-China Association, a private, non-profit organization based on the Yale campus, dedicated to the education in and about China and to the furtherance of mutual understanding and knowledge between the Chinese and the American people.

1936 – Yale pioneers a new program for Chinese language instruction and begins to develop innovative Chinese textbooks.

1990 – Yale University Press, in collaboration with China International Publishing Group, launches an awarding series of books, “The Culture and Civilization of China.”  To date, nine volumes have been published: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (1997), Chinese Architecture (2002), Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy (2002), Balanced Discourses (2003), The Formation of Chinese Civilization (2005), Chinese Sculpture (2006), Chinese Calligraphy (2008), Chinese Ceramics (2010), and Chinese Silks (2012).

2006 – As one of only three stops during his historic trip to the United States, President Hu Jintao visits Yale, and gives the first speech by a Chinese head-of-state ever to be broadcast live in China.

2007 – A group of 100 Yale students, faculty, and staff visit China in response to President Hu’s personal invitation and are given a ten-day official tour of China.

2008 – The Yale School of Music and Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music host “Musicathalon: A Cultural Prelude to the Olympics,” a series of concerts, lectures, and master classes and the School of Management sponsors the “Yale Global Business Leadership Program at the Olympic Games.”

2009 – During her visit in April 2009, Chinese State Councilor Madam Liu Yandong invited fifty Yale graduate students to visit China.

2013 – Encounters, a groundbreaking Chinese language program that features a dramatic series filmed entirely in China, was officially launched. The program’s highly communicative approach immerses learners in the Chinese language and culture through video episodes that correspond to units in the combination textbook-workbook. By combining a compelling story line with a wealth of educational materials, Encounters weaves a tapestry of Chinese language and culture rich in teaching and learning opportunities.

Programs for Chinese Students at Yale University

Summer School Programs for Chinese Undergraduate Students: students from Fudan, Peking, Renmin, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Tsinghua universities are admitted to the Yale Summer Session to take classes along with Yale students.  

Peking University-Yale Distinguished Graduate Student Scholarly Exchange Program: a formal exchange program for Ph.D. history students at Peking University and Yale.

China Scholarship Council - Yale World Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences: created in 2006, recruits the best Chinese graduate students in the biomedical sciences from eight of China’s leading institutions to study in Yale’s renowned Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program and provides funding through the China Scholarship Council.

The Yale University Intensive English Language Program: provides students admitted to the Yale Graduate School with the opportunity to come to New Haven four weeks prior to the beginning of their first term for a program of intensive English instruction and orientation to Yale.

Programs for Yale Students in China

Richard U. Light Fellowship: inaugurated in 1996, funds over 100 Yale students to engage in language study in China each year.

Bulldogs Internship Program: provides undergraduates with summer internship placements in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong at a variety of organizations, ranging from small entrepreneurial companies to nonprofit organizations such as the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and IBM China.

Fox International Fellowship: a direct two-way student exchange partnership between Yale University and eleven of the world’s leading universities including Fudan University.

Chinese Cultural Yung Wing Scholarship: Created in memory of Yung Wing, the first Chinese student to earn a degree at a Western university (Yale class of 1854), the Scholarship supports one year of Chinese study for a Yale student.

Council on East Asian Studies Field Research Grants: The Council on East Asian Studies Field Research Grants at the MacMillan Center provides funding for Yale graduate students in the Arts & Sciences to conduct research in China for their doctoral dissertations.

Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale

During the 2012-13 academic year, approximately 500 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in Yale College and its graduate and professional schools. In addition, nearly 600 Chinese scholars (e.g., visiting faculty, fellows, postdoctoral researchers) were in residence at Yale.  Together they represent the largest complement of students and scholars from any foreign country.

To see more detailed statistics, visit the Office of International Students and Scholars.

Leadership Programs

China-Yale Senior Government Leadership Program: a two-week program, which began in 2005, for vice minister level officials in the Chinese government.  The program is attended by the most senior cohort of Chinese government officials ever to participate in executive education outside of China.  Over one third (27 of 75) of the participants in the first three-year series of annual sessions have subsequently been promoted to positions of even greater responsibility.  The program includes one week spent in New York and Washington, D.C.

Yale-Chinese Women’s Leadership Development Program: a two-week program that brought to Yale approximately thirty influential and prominent Chinese women leaders from the central and provincial governments, state-owned enterprises, and civil society organizations. The program was held in 2010 and 2011 and was organized in cooperation with the All-China Women’s Federation.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted the welcome dinner for participants in May 2011. 

China-Yale Advanced University Leadership Program: a collaboration with China’s Ministry of Education, for presidents and vice-presidents from China’s leading universities.  The program utilizes a combination of lectures, case studies, and simulations to illustrate the goals and operations of key administrative functions at leading U.S. research universities. The objective has been to review models and best practices that Chinese universities might profitably adapt to their own needs.

Yale-Tsinghua Environment and Sustainable Development Leadership Program: a program with Tsinghua University and the Chinese Association of Mayors assists senior officials (primarily mayors and party secretaries) from major cities throughout China as they develop policies to support sustainable development.  This area is recognized as increasingly important to maintaining China’s economic growth and managing its rapidly developing urban areas. 

China-Yale Advanced Leadership Program in Management: a month-long program for top Chinese executives sponsored by the Yale School of Management, the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges and the United Nations Development Programme.

10,000 Women, Certificate Program in Healthcare Management: a partnership between Yale’s Global Health Leadership Initiative and Tsinghua University, sponsored by the Goldman Sachs Foundation, to train female Chinese healthcare managers and officials to enable them to assume leadership roles in the Chinese healthcare system.

China-Yale Youth Leaders Dialogue: a ten-day program organized with the All-China Youth Federation that brings 15 Chinese mid-career leaders to the United States to help them to gain a deeper appreciation of American government, society, and culture.

Research Projects

There are over 100 separate research projects in a wide range of disciplines that are focused on China or involve partnerships between the Yale faculty and their colleagues in Chinese universities, governmental agencies, and independent research institutions. These projects include the Yale-Shandong University Archaeological Studies, Urban Design Studio Project in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Hengduan Mountain Biodiversity Project, GHLI-Fudan Mental Health Program, Consortium for Globalization of Chinese Medicine, and Industrial Ecology and the Circular Economy in Tianjin. (see http://world.yale.edu for a full listing).

Research Centers

Fudan-Yale Biomedical Research Center provides a locus for cutting-edge international research in the field of genetics and molecular medicine.  Researchers at Yale and Fudan work collaboratively, achieving a “multiplier effect” of what could be accomplished in only one facility.  The first research emanating from China to be featured on the cover of Cell (August 2005) was from the joint Fudan-Yale lab.

Peking-Yale Joint Center for Plant Molecular Genetics and Agro-biotechnology sponsors research concentrated in the field of basic biology in model plant systems and on the application of this basic research to crop improvement.

Peking-Yale Joint Center for Microelectronics and Nanotechnology supports a multidisciplinary research program in which independent research groups work within a common facility, and share resources and expertise.

University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)-Yale Joint Research Center on High-Confidence Software works to devise cutting-edge technologies and tools that will dramatically improve the dependability of today’s computer software.

Yale- Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) Biostatistics Center conduct cutting-edge translational medicine research and train future leaders in the field.

Yale Center Beijing hosts conferences, workshops, and other events developed by all of the university’s schools and programs. It is managed by the Yale School of Management on behalf of Yale University.