International Endowment for Chinese Studies

Connecting with the Chinese World

The International Endowment for Chinese Studies (IECS) is a France-based foundation that seeks to support excellence and independence in academic research on modern Chinese societies, especially modern China, through programs devoted to support young innovative scholars, to fund critical research projects, and to establish a world-class digital China library. IECS aims to sustain a vibrant community of scholars passionate about China. Its objective is to nurture critical, empirically based, and clearly reasoned scholarship.

The International Endowment for Chinese Studies was established in March 1990. Its core mission involves supporting scholars at academic institutions in France and in Europe  to undertake innovative research projects in the humanities and social sciences that can shed new light on contemporary Chinese culture and society. 

IECS undertakes grant-making activities in France and other EU countries under three major programs:  Research Grants, Junior scholars chairs,  and Dissertation fellowships. It also supports a major research infrastructure  in the form of a unique  digital library endowed with rich collections on Chinese societies that features advanced search and analytical capabilities.  IECS is resolutely committed to promoting pure academic scholarship and the production of ground-breaking knowledge throughout the European academic community.

The Board of Directors is the IECS’s highest body for decision and policymaking. There is also an Investors Board that supervises the management of the IECS’s endowment. The IECS’s headquarters are located in Aix-en-Provence, where the President and Vice-President manage its day-to-day operations.

The main mission of IECS is to  create the conditions for the development of a vibrant academic research on China and greater China in France, yet with a broader European scope and agenda. To achieve this mission, it focuses its action on two domains:

IECS is an initiative taken by a French scholar with the explicit goal of making up for the appalling lack of resources and research about modern Chinese societies in France. Despite a long history of “sinological studies” that started with the Jesuits in the 18th century, Chinese studies have been slow to develop in France and Europe with the major part devoted to philosophy, language, and literature. In the field of social sciences, universities have failed to integrate in their departments scholars specializing in Chinese societies.  Throughout Europe, with very few exceptions, there has been no increase in the necessary expertise commensurate with the rise of China as a superpower.

Whereas major U.S. universities like Stanford or Harvard support strong research centers on China — they rely on rich endowments — the system of public universities in France, as well as intellectual traditions that set apart Chinese studies, have failed to provide a comparable institutional context. Yet France also has considerable resources, especially scholars, who can offer expertise in many fields about China. The ranks of young scholars have been steadily growing. IECS believes that this potential remains untapped and seeks to support these talents and provide documentary resources that are also badly missing.

The geographical scope of action of IECS is geared toward France as a first and necessary step — there is considerable potential, that IECS intends to mobilize to alter the worldview and recruitment patterns of  French universities and research institutions — but its ultimate objective is to serve a broader community and open its programs to applicants from other European countries with a view to support excellence centers about China and Chinese societies.

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