SAIS Nanjing’s American Co-director to Retire

MARYAN ESCARFULLETT
Associate Editor at SAIS Nanjing

As the new Chinese Co-Director He Chengzhou becomes more fully integrated into the HNC, his American counterpart, Co-Director Jason Patent, is preparing to leave.

Prior to HNC, Patent’s career included stints with Stanford University (as inaugural director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program at Peking University, Beijing) and various roles in the private sector.

Patent, who earned his doctorate in linguistics from UC-Berkeley, has been an integral part of the center’s growth over the past two years.

As the American Co-Director, Patent works with his Chinese counterpart to ensure that communications and operations between Nanjing, Bologna and DC are running smoothly.

Patent also taught “Mapping Chinese and American Mindsets” during the spring semester of 2013. The course focused on linguistic, psychological and cultural differences between Chinese and American citizens.

One of the issues Patent and his students focused on was the concept of “the other” and how our perception of “otherness” changes in different cultural environments. To him, being able to move past “otherness” is a critical component of Sino-American relations.

Patent is also thoroughly involved in a range of projects involving the alumni community, which  have shed light on some very important developments to the HNC.

Patent has been excited about two curriculum developments: a summer term, and ERE.

As of summer 2014 SAIS Nanjing will offer a summer term, with courses taught by HNC and SAIS Washington faculty. It will be open to students from around the world.

Furthermore, starting next fall the Energy, Resources, and Environment concentration will also become a part of the HNC curriculum.

Patent was also proud of the exciting projects outside of the center of which being co-director has allowed him to be a part.

Through a grant from the Ford Foundation, HNC has been working on Project Pengyou over the past year to create a pilot online social networking platform for HNC alumni. The project was formally launched on Thursday, September 26, in Shanghai.

Almost 100 alumni and other members of the HNC and SAIS communities attended. Patent was on a panel with former HNC American Co-Directors Elizabeth Knup (who now heads the Ford Foundation in China) and Robert Daly (who runs the Kissinger Institute in Washington, and joined remotely). Travis Tanner, Chief Operating Officer of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, also delivered remarks.

The pilot program aims to build a robust community of China scholars, academics, leaders and professionals for the HNC and SAISers in China.

Patent believes strengthening the networks between China scholars and SAISers, along with upcoming scholarship coming out of the HNC will be critical to the future of Sino-American relations. To him the center is proof that China and America “can avoid going to war and find meaningful ways to work together to solve the world’s biggest challenges.”