China-Durham partnership going from strength to strength

From archaeological excavations to business and teaching qualifications, we are proud to have extensive partnership links in China.

In May our Pro-Vice-Chancellor Global, Professor Claire O’Malley made a significant visit to China to further develop these links.

The Palace Museum

The already close research relationship between the Palace Museum, the most important of China’s museums and cultural institutions, and Durham University Archaeology Department was further enhanced through the second annual, public ‘Palace Museum and Durham University Lecture Series’ and the annual ‘Conference on Studies in Chinese and World Archaeology’ which was attended, as usual, by scholars from The Palace Museum, Durham University, and key universities from across China.

Prof O’Malley attended the second of these events. We were honoured that the new Director of the Palace Museum, Prof Wang Xudong, attended the opening of the conference in person and met Prof O’Malley.

New partnership

The Durham team also visited Jilin University, a Double-First Class university which is home to the second highest-ranked archaeology department in China. In Jilin Professor O’Malley was able to meet with Vice-President Professor Zheng Weitao as well as other key academics from Jilin University. Durham academics were invited to give lectures and the visit culminated in the signing of an important new a Memorandum of Understanding, which is expected to lead to teaching and research partnerships.

These events, alongside our existing partnerships in China, highlight our ongoing commitment to collaborative working in one of the most culturally exciting and dynamic countries in the world.

Breaking new ground

Since 2016 Durham University and the Palace Museum have developed a pioneering research partnership, led by Dr Derek Kennet from our world leading Department of Archaeology.

In 2017 Durham University became the first ever Western university to excavate within the walls of the Forbidden City, an unprecedented honour for all involved.

Since then we have continued to build a strong partnership with the Palace Museum, through collaborative research, workshops and visits.

Our key area of research collaboration focusses on the medieval trade in Chinese ceramics. To this end we are working together on material from southern China, the Indian Ocean and Europe to explore the role that China played in the development of the global medieval economy.

Some recent finds made by a Durham University team led by Prof Chris Gerrard and Dr Alejandra Guitierrez have shown that ceramics from China reached Spain as early at the Tang Dynasty (608-907) over 1000 years ago and much earlier than had previously been thought.

This work has recently featured in the ‘Gaokao’, China’s famously challenging college entrance exam, which is sat by around ten million students each year. Of course no one likes exams, but let’s hope the students at least found the subject interesting this time!

Sharing expertise

This type of research, which is helping to further our understanding of Chinese trade and the maritime and land-based ‘Silk Roads’, is only part of our extensive partnerships in China.

Our Business School runs a part-time executive doctoral programme which is delivered at Fudan University in Shanghai, as well in Silicon Valley in the USA and here at Durham.

Meanwhile our School of Education collaborates with Wellington College, China, to deliver a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (International).