USC Price dean strengthens school’s presence in Asia
Jack H. Knott, dean of the USC Price School of Public Policy, called his recent trip to Asia “one of the most exciting I’ve ever undertaken.”
Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4, he visited China, India and Hong Kong to advance the school’s mission of shaping — and being shaped by — the world.
“These are very important countries to Los Angeles, to USC and to the Price School,” he said. “I was really impressed by the range of people that we were able to meet and the relationships that we solidified, as well as initiated.”
Professor Eric Heikkila, USC Price director of international initiatives, accompanied the dean throughout the trip. And Ginger Li MPA ’11, who works in the Office of International Initiatives, joined them during their time in China.
“India and China jointly account for upwards of one quarter of the world’s population,” Heikkila said. “They are dynamic and growing in terms of their global economic, political and cultural influence. As a globally oriented institution of higher education, the USC Price School of Public Policy must be connected to these places in meaningful ways.”
In China, Knott gave two presentations about government corruption and reform, drawing parallels between contemporary China and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
He gave his first presentation in Shanghai as a panelist at the International Symposium on Public Service, Local Governance and Performance, organized by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
A few days later, NTU held the Lien China Development Forum in Beijing, where Knott’s keynote luncheon address drew an audience of more than 150 senior government officials and media representatives.
“It’s just a huge issue in China — governance reform and the economy,” Knott said. “And for China to move beyond their current level of economic development into more of an entrepreneurial, sustainable economy, it will require governance reforms both in the administration and in politics. So I was really pleased to be invited to make these presentations.”
In China, Knott and his colleagues also connected with several USC Price alumni, supporters, and current and potential collaborators.
At the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPD) — which has a long-standing commitment to hosting USC Price interns — plans for future partnerships emerged. The CAUPD will be sending students to take classes at USC Price, as well as inviting USC Price faculty to give lectures at the academy.
Knott and his colleagues also discussed opportunities at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
“For warm-heartedness, perhaps no moment was finer than visiting with a group of alumni from the USC Price School who are now up-and-coming professors in Shanghai, and seeing how proud they remain of their USC Price School connections,” Heikkila noted. “We assured them that it is mutual.”
In India, Keshav Varma, a senior official at the World Bank — with whom USC Price has a memorandum of understanding — hosted Knott and his colleagues, connecting them to key figures in the public sector. In addition, Tyler Goodwin MRED ’00, a managing director of J.P. Morgan Global Real Assets in Asia, introduced the USC delegation to business leaders engaged in real estate and urban planning activities in Mumbai.
Knott spoke with the president of India’s National Academy of Administration, which provides training for the country’s elite civil servants, to discuss potential collaborations in education.
Knott and Heikkila also met with three members of the Indian cabinet and the head of the Election Commission of India, visited two private universities and spent a day with the real estate development company, Lodha Group, to explore training and educational opportunities.
On the last day of their trip, Knott and Heikkila took a meeting at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which is working to develop a new public policy institute.
From China to India to Hong Kong, the trip supported USC Price’s commitment to being a globally relevant leader in public policy.
“We are sitting in LA on the Pacific Rim with a face toward Asia,” Knott said.
“These are great, ancient civilizations that have had enormous accomplishments over centuries and millennia, and they are now emerging again into the 21st century as major economic and cultural powerhouses,” he added. “So it was a very productive, worthwhile trip.”