Harvard Unveils First China Office

New Shanghai outpost continues University's international expansion

Harvard inaugurated its first China office in Shanghai last week as part of a recent increase in the University's international reach, which will soon include an office in Beijing, multiple outposts in Mumbai, India, and an office in Mexico City.

The Business School and the Harvard China Fund jointly operate the Shanghai office, whose staff will help arrange internships for undergraduates, provide research support for Business School faculty, and potentially offer executive education courses on-site, according to Jorge I. Dominguez, vice provost for international affairs.

The Business School provides these courses—non-degree programs for mid-career students—in partnership with Chinese universities, but Dominguez said they might pursue courses alone and perhaps offer use of their classroom space for similar programs at other Harvard schools through a "booking system," contingent on changes in Chinese law, which now requires the involvement of a Chinese university in higher education offerings.

In addition to its Business School activities, the Shanghai office and the future Beijing site—scheduled to open this fall or winter—will offer services and support to Harvard students in China as part of regional study and internship programs. The office will also conduct admissions events and interviews for prospective students.

The Harvard China Fund, a University-wide initiative to support teaching and research in and about China, has already been able to place between 20 and 25 Harvard undergraduates in internships with Chinese companies through the Shanghai office, said Todd S. Washburn, assistant provost for international affairs. The Fund will also "host occasional social and academic outings, seminars, and get-togethers to allow students to interact with local businesspeople, and community members," he said.

William C. Kirby, the Fund's director, said the offices would serve the broader University community beyond just the Business School and the China Fund programs, pointing to existing collaborations between local faculty and other Harvard schools, such as the Law School on Chinese disability law and the Kennedy School on crisis management.

"We want to support important research across the University that will take place in China," Kirby said, "primarily by providing different annual grants to Harvard faculty, but also by supporting collaboration with Chinese institutions of higher learning."

But Dominguez said this week that China wasn't the only place Harvard has expansion plans.

An existing Business School office in Mumbai will be joined shortly by a Harvard Business School Publishing office, he said, and a representative of the South Asia Initiative is in the same city this summer "on a trial basis" that may turn into a permanent office.

Dominguez said the Initiative, created to facilitate research and teaching about South Asia, hopes to create a study abroad program in Mumbai, but that local laws and difficulties finding a suitable partner institution have limited them to aiding with internship placement for the time being.

Mexico City will also host a Harvard office in the near future under the aegis of Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Dominguez said.

And while Harvard dignitaries celebrated their East Asian outpost last week, another inauguration took place one continent West.

The Hellenic Center's new office in Nafplion, Greece had its own inauguration ceremony. Among the amenities offered in the "refurbished house," as Dominguez described the location, is free access to the Harvard library system for "anyone who walks into the building and identifies oneself as having a reasonable purpose."

The Center also hopes to launch a study abroad program out of the office there beginning in fall of 2009.

But these international openings are not without their challenges, Harvard officials say, and in many cases local regulations have complicated expansion efforts as with study abroad in India or executive education in China.

"We had to set up a legal entity in China," Assistant Provost Washburn said, "and we needed to make sure we dotted every I and crossed every T to make sure that everything we did met with Chinese statutes and regulations on a number of issues, including how you hire people and when you can hire them."

—Staff writer Prateek Kumar can be reached at kumar@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Clifford M. Marks can be reached at cmarks@fas.harvard.edu.