A Study of Confucius Institute Teachers Around the World

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021 – Part of the Speaker Series on Misinformation, co-sponsored by the NULab at Northeastern University.

Jennifer Pan is an Assistant Professor of Communication, and an Assistant Professor, by courtesy, of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University. Her research resides at the intersection of political communication and authoritarian politics, showing how authoritarian governments work to shape public attitudes and behaviors, how the public responds, and when and why each is successful. Pan graduated from Princeton University, summa cum laude, with an A.B. in Public and International Affairs, and she received her Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Government.


Confucius Institutes sponsored by the Chinese government have become the world’s largest government-funded culture and language promotion program. With 540 institutes operating at the university level and 1,154 centers in primary and secondary schools in over 160 countries, Confucius Institute teachers interact with hundreds of thousands of students around the world each year. Since their founding in 2004, Confucius Institutes have been accused of extending Chinese government censorship and propaganda, indoctrinating young people into a view of China and the Chinese Communist Party that the Chinese regime wants to advance. In this paper, we use interviews, a global survey, and experimental methods to study the behavior of Confucius Institute teachers. In particular, we focus on how teachers deal with politically contentious topics in the classroom, and importantly, what factors motivate their behavior.