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Harvard-trained Lankan scholar returns to Oxford

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OXFORD, England: After more than twenty years later, Professor Patrick Mendis has returned to the University of Oxford, where he was a Twenty-first Century fellow at Merton College. “It is one of the most beautiful and the oldest colleges in Oxford,” he said, while visiting the medieval buildings, university libraries, and museums.

An alumnus of the Harvard Executive Leadership Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Mendis later served as a Rajawali senior fellow of the School’s AshCentre for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He is currently an associate-in-research of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.

At Oxford, Dr. Annie Hongping Nie invited the Harvard scholar tovisit the China Centre and its library for his research. “This is a wonderful new facility for China studies,” said Mendis.

A recipient of the “Understanding China” Fellowship from the Confucius Institute (Hanban) in Beijing, Mendis is a visiting researcher at the National Confucius Research Institute of China in Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius in Shandong province. He presently serves as a distinguished visiting professor of Asian-Pacific affairs at the Shandong University in Jinan and a visiting senior fellow of the South China Studies Institute at Qufu Normal University.

Like in China, Mendis is not a stranger to England. Earlier in his life, Mendis served as a NATO military professor at the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Base at Lakenheath and Mildenhall, near the University of Cambridge.

He is a distinguished graduate of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka and the University of Minnesota in the United States. The China scholar, a former American diplomat in the Clinton and Bush administrations, is presently serving as a commissioner of the US National Commission for UNESCO at the State Department. It is an appointment by the Obama White House.

In the fall semester, Mendis will be teaching a graduate course on “International Political Economy of Sino-American Relations” at the prestigious Yenching Academy of Peking University in China.

Inviting back to Peking University, the Academy wrote, “your contribution to public and international affairs have long been admired around the world” and the students will be “thrilled” to have you at Yenching.

The Academy is an interdisciplinary international MA program focusing on China studies. The class of 2018 consists of 92 international and 22 mainland Chinese students. These scholars come from over 40 countries and more than 100 different universities, including Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Heidelberg, and the National University of Singapore. Despite their diverse background and interests, they are a highly selective and academically rigorous group.

Mendis has previously lectured over 25 Chinese universities—including Fudan, Nanjing, Peking, Renmin, Tongji, Tsinghua, Wuhan, and Zhejiang--and traveled to all the provinces of China. 

He has published over 150 books, journal articles, and newspaper columns. The most recent book, “Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a New Pacific World Order,” is translated to Mandarin Chinese in Beijing.

Mendis is a member of the Academic Committee and a senior fellow of the Pangoal Institution, a leading think-tank in China.


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