Shanghai, China.
Courtesy of Peter Winter (Master of Public Diplomacy '10)

USC Annenberg grows relationship with Shanghai Jiao Tong University

As China has begun to feel the effects of the rapidly evolving digital media space, local traditional media firms are being challenged to adapt to shifts in the field.

Led by USC Marshall, USC Annenberg and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) will address these issues by working together to co-build SJTU’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry (ICCI) and conduct joint faculty research.

Accompanied by Provost Michael Quick and other university officials, USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III attended a signing ceremony on Oct. 25 to inaugurate the new partnership between USC and SJTU. Wilson, professor Jonathan Taplin (also director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab) and professor David Craig introduced the partnership alongside leadership and faculty from SJTU at an event on Nov. 1.

As the media and entertainment industries in the U.S. and China continue to draw closer together, stakeholders in both countries must confront the shifting digital media space. At the “Mapping the Future of Entertainment” event, insiders and analysts mapped the changing conditions in Hollywood and China and explored the two-way flows between them.  

“Inside each country, older legacy companies scramble to keep up with the platform, delivery and content innovations of the new digital companies,” Wilson said of the event’s significance. “Digital companies seek the scale and scope of traditional media companies. Simultaneously, cross boundary flows of capital, technology and content are increasing month by month. In this conference, operators and investors will see in detail how these changes are unfolding within and between the two countries.”

The event featured a keynote from Chen Xiao, vice president of Chinese online video platform iQIYI,  as well as presentations by expert panels on topics including “World of YouTube,” “Challenges and Opportunities of the Legacy Media in Hollywood” and “Fast Changes of the Media Landscape in the Middle Kingdom.”

The first component of the partnership is already underway, as SJTU’s ICCI welcomed its inaugural class in pursuant of a dual degree program. Students will earn a master’s degree from SJTU’s School of Media Design before becoming eligible to earn a master’s in management science from USC Marshall. Such certificate programs can be taken for either academic credit or non-academic credit.

With 26 students currently enrolled, the program expects the class to increase to 40 students next year. In the coming years, undergraduate and Ph.D. programs will also be offered. The dual degree program poses great potential for expansion and demonstrates USC Annenberg’s commitment to partners in China.

In addition to the partnership’s teaching component, USC Annenberg and SJTU’s ICCI faculty will collaborate on research focused on the changing digital media space. As an acknowledged cultural center for media and entertainment, SJTU is being endorsed to establish a new media research center to fund faculty research.

“The research points also to the third piece of the collaboration, sharing of knowledge with and training of industry professionals,” said professor Ben Lee, a key instigator of the partnership’s success. “Shanghai and the surrounding regions are home to thousands of traditional media firms, all challenged (and some struggling) by the rapidly shifts in technologies, financials and audiences. They are eager for our insights and guidance.”

This multi-dimensional partnership was just one part of USC Annenberg’s agenda surrounding the Global Conference, which includes an executive training program that took place on Oct. 25 in Beijing.

USC Annenberg U.S.-China Institute Director Clayton Dube attributes the school’s heavy involvement in Shanghai to the school’s dedication to help solve China’s complex communication problems. Dube said it's a form of public service, as USC Annenberg has the expertise and resources to offer valuable perspectives on pressing diplomatic communication issues.

“What this reflects is the deep involvement that USC Annenberg has in China, not simply like everybody else we have a lot of students from China, but USC Annenberg is involved in working with key partners to improve communications to deal with crises and to deal with diplomatic communication,” Dube said.