This article examines the rise and fall of a golden age of engagement between American and Chinese institutions of higher education. We assess the political context, examine institutional and demographic variables associated with successful initial joint efforts, and explore why current relationships are unraveling. The authors do not assume alignment in the interests promoting initial cooperation between the United States and China but a convergence of mutual interests. The paper discusses operational realities underpinning support for engagement (a need for coordination in organizational infrastructure, faculty support and what are referred to as “administrative nuts and bolts”) associated with meaningful and long-term agreements. We present evidence of a dramatic decline in Sino-U.S. cooperative endeavors in post-secondary education and suggest that a new paradigmatic shift is underway and consider what this might mean for future engagement efforts. Finally, the paper poses recommendations to American institutional leaders for next steps to continue engagement with China.
September 24, 2020
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)