Annenberg's Inaugural Symposium at Penn Wharton China Center a Rousing Success

The Global Communication Research in the 21st Century Symposium, held on June 16, 2015 at the recently launched Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing, marked an historic collaboration in the field of global communication studies between prominent scholars from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and a number of Chinese universities.

The day-long conference, co-directed by Michael Delli Carpini, Annenberg Professor and Dean, and Guobin Yang, Associate Professor of Communication and Sociology, also at Annenberg, celebrated the a deepening relationship between China and Annenberg/Penn by bringing together scholars engaged in global communication research and exploring the future of such research in and about China, the U.S., and the world.

Over the last decade the Annenberg School has built strong ties to communication graduate students, scholars, practitioners, and programs in China. Through Fulbright Fellowships, the China Scholarship Council, and its own Center for Global Communication Studies the Annenberg School has hosted many visiting scholars from China.  Likewise, Annenberg faculty and students have been hosted by a number of Chinese scholars and institutions. The Annenberg School and larger Penn community has also been enriched by a growing number of PhD students who are from China and/or interested in its study.

The day was a packed one, featuring in three panels 19 speakers.

The first panel, following Dean Delli Carpini’s opening welcome and remarks, was titled Global Perspectives on Social Media and Sociopolitical Engagement and focused on current theorizing, research and practices of collective action in the new information environment, as well as opportunities for future collaboration. The panel, chaired by Delli Carpini, also included Marwan Kraidy and Guobin Yang from Annenberg, Weiyu Zhang (University of Singapore),  Xiaoying Zhang (Beijing Foreign Studies University), Baohua Zhou, (Fudan University), Isaac Mao (The Social Brain Foundation), and Anneberg alumnus Lokman Tsui (The Chinese University of Hong Kong).

After lunch the conferees settled in for the second panel, Global Perspectives on Journalism in the 21st Century, which looked at the practices, people, institutions, mediums and even the vocabulary of journalism to consider how it has changed in recent years across cultures. The panel explored how scholars are and should be thinking about the study of journalism with special attention paid to China. The panel was chaired by the Director of Annenberg’s Center for Global Communication Studies, Monroe Price. Kecheng Fang (Annenberg PhD student), Joseph M. Chan (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Ying Chan, (The University of Hong Kong), Xin Zhong (Renmin University), Yun Long (Communication University of China),  and Chris Fei Shen (City University of Hong Kong) also participated.

A cautiously upbeat note was struck during Future Directions for Communication Studies in China & the U.S., the final panel of the day.  Chaired by Delli Carpini, the panel considered how the field of communication studies adjusts to new realities such as globalization, economic and democratic development, new media technologies, the use of “big data,” and pervasive surveillance. In addition to Marwan Kraidy and Monroe Price from Annenberg, panelists included Anthony Y.H. Fung (Hong Kong University),  Fei Wu (Zhejiang University), Jing Wu (Peking University), and Guoming Yu (Renmin University).

A reception followed Dean Delli Carpini’s closing remarks. 

Back in Philadelphia, he reflected on the day. “Thanks to the insightful participation of members of the Annenberg faculty, our students and alums, and scholars from the leading Communication programs in China, our one day symposium was a great success. It is clear to me that the Penn Wharton China Center promises to be an important meeting place for facilitating future collaboration and shared learning in what is already a strong relationship between our departments, schools, and universities.”