Protection of Academic Freedom


The Confucius Institute at U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB) was founded in 2014 and held its public launch ceremony in Feb. 2015.  It is part of our superb East Asian Studies Department, which has a thriving program studying Chinese history, culture, literature and languages.  A number of scholars in other UCSB departments such as History, Religious Studies, Global Studies, and Political Science also specialize in the study of China.  We aim to promote the study of China and mutual understanding between the U.S. and China, two countries which have the most global impact.

The Institute Director is Professor Mayfair Yang, a senior faculty member with appointments in the Departments of East Asian Studies and Religious Studies.  She was born in Taiwan, a naturalized U.S. citizen, received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, and started her position at UCSB in 1987. Our Confucius Institute supports not only Chinese language instruction, but also the interdisciplinary study of China.  The Institute has sponsored academic conferences, guest speakers, cultural events (film screenings, calligraphy demonstration, and Sichuan opera performance), a summer language and culture program in China for undergraduates in 2016 and 2017, and travel fellowships for graduate students and faculty. 

In terms of academic freedom, the Director, with input from other China Studies faculty at UCSB, make all decisions regarding conference themes, guest speakers and their lecture topics, cultural events, and graduate student funding.  We have a Confucius Institute Advisory Committee made up of UCSB faculty, who help review applications for travel fellowship and listen to reports on Institute activities.  UCSB deeply values academic freedom, and we are committed to insuring that no foreign governments or outside agencies dictate or influence the content of our academic and outreach programs.  In our Agreement with Hanban, we made a point to ensure this in Article 5.6, which says, “The Institute activities must be consistent with the Constitution and By-laws and U.C. Santa Barbara policies, and be sensitive to cultural customs. They shall not contravene the laws and regulations, both in the United States and China.”

The vast majority of our visiting speakers are based at U.S. or Western universities, are U.S. citizens, and received their Ph.D.s in Western countries.  We run an academic discussion series called China Studies Forum, in which our own UCSB graduate students and faculty suggest the outside academic speakers we will invite.  We read an article or Chapter by the invited speaker and engage in discussions with the speaker in fruitful sessions.  For a full list of our past events, lectures, and conferences, please check under “News and Events” on this website.

We have organized three large international academic conferences.  The first, “The Environment: Issues & Strategies in China & the U.S.,” in April 2016, was co-sponsored by a grant from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Sciences and Management and School of Letters and Sciences.  The conference on “The Future of U.S.-China Economic Relations” in Feb. 2017 was co-sponsored by UCSB’s Political Science Department.  Our third conference, “Ancient China in a Eurasian Context,” in April 2018, was co-sponsored by UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and the Departments of History, East Asian Studies, and Classics.  These UCSB co-sponsors showed that they supported the conference theme and the invited scholars, and believed that these Confucius Institute events were a contribution to the academic life of the university.

There are several programs at UCSB that receive government funding from foreign governments, including our Basque Studies program, the Center for Portuguese Studies, and the Center for Taiwan Studies, which is especially well known for translating important Taiwanese literary texts into English.  As with the Confucius Institute, our faculty make all academic and programming decisions regarding these Centers and Programs.

Our Agreement between UCSB and Hanban, and our Agreement with Shandong University are posted here on this website.