Annual Gockel Symposium eyes U.S.-China relations

Possible futures for U.S.-China relations will be presented in this year’s Gockel International Symposium, Thursday Sept. 27.

This year’s symposium, named for Harry and Berniece Gockel, will address the subject of “China and the U.S.: Steering Course for Collision of Convergence.”

“We wanted the focus to be on the relationship between the U.S. and China,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies.

Members of the China Semester planning committee selected the topic based on its relevance and accessibility for both students and faculty

“We try to find one of the most engaging speakers that we can who is also a noted expert in the field,” Stebbins said. “I think we’ve accomplished that this time.”

In addition to the featured speakers, Dr. Conrad Gubera, professor of sociology, will be moderating this years event and speaking about his personal relationship with the Gockels, their love for the University and their desire to orient students to “the larger world.”

“Both of them were truly international travelers,” Gubera said.

Gubera has spoken about the Gockels in the past, but this will be his first year to moderate the event.

“I went out and bought a new jacket and got my hair cut,” he said.

Moderators are usually selected from the social sciences department, as Harry Gockel served as the chair of the division of social sciences in his time with the University.

“We try to retain that tie to the social sciences department,” Stebbins said.

The symposium includes a morning lecture, to be held in Taylor Performing Arts Center, given by Dr. Chen Jian, director of the China and Asia-Pacific studies Program at Cornell University. Jian will cover the subject of “The ‘China Challenge’ as myth and reality.”

A turnout of 600-800 is expected for the morning lecture.

“The hope is that students will attend the first [lecture] by virtue of their entire class, and they will be so intrigued that they will want to come back on their own,” Stebbins said.

The evening program consists of two lectures, given in Webster Hall auditorium. Jien will speak on “Encountering the rising China: Three challenges facing Sino American relations.” Confucian scholar Dr. Henry Rosemont Jr. will give a lecture on “China and the U.S.: Who threatens who?” Speakers were selected based on recommendations from the committee and were permitted to select their own topics inside the underlying theme.

Both of Jian’s lectures will address the issue of China’s dramatic recent changes and their effects on the U.S. and the world.

“This is a philosopher you’re talking to, here’s where I stand, here’s the argument,” Rosemont said, “I may be gloriously wrong but I won’t be boring.”

Rosemont said he hopes those at his lecture will get a better picture of the reality of the threat of militarization in the U.S. and China.

“The greatest threat facing China is China and the greatest threat facing the U.S is the U.S,” he said. “From that perspective, unless we change our views it is going to be disastrous for both.”

Lectures are targeted at both students and instructors with the hope that attendees will walk away with a better understanding of the U.S. and China’s roles on the world stage.

The morning program will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the evening will begin at 7 p.m. Attendees are also encouraged to stay after the evening lecture for one-on-one time with visiting scholars.

“I’m really looking forward to the talks,” Rosemont said, “I’ve been mixing it up with students for 40 years.”