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Schwarzman Scholars program attracts Stanford interest

Stanford administrators and students are looking to the new Schwarzman Scholars program as an opportunity for graduate students to take part in fostering a stronger U.S.-China relationship.

The international scholarship, offered by Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen Schwarzman, will allow 200 students—45 percent from the United States, 20 percent from China, and 35 percent from the rest of the world—to work towards a one-year master degree at the Schwarzman College within China’s Tsinghua University in 2016.

Courtesy of Oriane Schwarzman

Courtesy of Oriane Schwarzman

Current courses of study proposed for the program cover topics such as international relations, public policy and economics, and there are future plans to incorporate engineering and other fields in later stage.

“My vision for Schwarzman Scholars is to help educate a future class of leaders who will advance relationships of mutual respect between the West and China, reducing tensions and leading to a new era of mutual prosperity,” Schwarzman said in a press release.

While the program is still at its inception, it has garnered a great amount of media and Stanford faculty attention.

Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and current professor in the Graduate School of Business and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Jean Oi, professor in Chinese politics, will both serve on the program’s board of advisors.

Xueguang Zhou M.A.’85 Ph.D. ‘91, Stanford professor in economic development and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said that the choice of Tsinghua University for the program campus has several implications.

“Tsinghua University was originally set up as a prep school for Chinese students to go abroad to study in the U.S.,” Zhou said. “Now because of the Schwarzman grant, [it is also] for others to come to China…That change and rhythm is quite interesting.”

According to Zhou, the increasing co-dependence between China and the rest of the world has set the stage for such a program.

“China is becoming more and more integrated with the rest of the world,” Zhou added, hoping that the program will serve as a channel for student scholars and future leaders to become more familiar with China.

John Pearson, director of the Bechtel International Center, said that the program, even in its inception stages, promises two levels of benefits. On the one hand, Pearson sees an opportunity for a group to get to know Chinese society, culture and people.

“The other benefit is the benefit to these individual students’ academic and professional goals by studying their subjects in a very different academic setting in a different country, which will give them perspectives from a country which is increasingly important for the world,” Pearson said.

“I can’t imagine Stanford students in the next few years will not be interested in it,” he added.

In fact, some students have already expressed interest in the program.

“For me, I think I will definitely look into the program after I graduate,” said Andrea Wang ‘16, who is also involved in the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES).

“I think this program will attract a lot of students with a special interest in China, and it will also attract a lot of students who want to make an impact in the future with the fact in mind that China is, indeed, one of the most important economies in the world,” Wang added.

While construction on the Schwarzman College site will not be completed until spring 2016, applications we be accepted starting fall 2015.

Contact Haroon Zaidi at hhzaidi ‘at’ stanford.edu.