USC Price School of Public Policy

USC Price offers public policy, cultural management program for Shanghai officials

December 19, 2016

Photos by Deirdre Flanagan More photos available on Flickr »

By Cristy Lytal

How do the public and private sectors impact cultural institutions as diverse as the Getty, the Music Center and the Santa Monica Pier? These were some of the topics addressed during a four-week executive training program organized by the USC Price School of Public Policy for 19 public officials from the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV.

“The Shanghai municipal government is interested in applying principles of public-private partnerships towards the way it interacts with cultural and creative industries in Shanghai,” said Professor Eric Heikkila, director of the Office of Global Engagement at USC Price.

Heikkila worked with Deputy Director Ginger Li and Project Coordinator Debby Hongdou Zhong from the Office of Global Engagement to organize the comprehensive training program, which combined lectures by USC faculty with meetings at major L.A. cultural institutions.

USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott delivered the welcome remarks for the delegation, and several Price faculty addressed topics at the intersection of public policy and cultural management during the program, which took place in L.A. and San Francisco in October and November.

Sharing interdisciplinary expertise, experiences

Eric Heikkila, right, with Jane Pisano

Director of International Initiatives Eric Heikkila, right, with Professor Jane Pisano (Photo by Deirdre Flanagan)

Professor Elizabeth Graddy, who is also the USC vice provost for academic and faculty affairs, delivered a lecture about public-private partnerships for public interests. As an experienced practitioner in this sphere, Professor Jane Pisano shared insights gleaned from her experience as former president of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Professor Elizabeth Currid-Halkett moved the discussion into other cultural realms with a lecture on how fashion, art and music can contribute to economic development. Professor Robert Denhardt continued the theme of music in a unique lecture titled “The Dance of Leadership.”

“Our discussion centered on the way that artistic concepts such as rhythm and timing can be incorporated into one’s leadership style,” Denhardt said. “The session was especially exciting as we illustrated these concepts to some musical group ‘sing-alongs.’ Not the normal lecture, but it seemed to generate interest.”

The Chinese participants were also interested in Professor Shui Yan Tang’s 10 principles for a rule-ordered society, and asked several thoughtful questions after the lecture. “My talk covered some difficulties of applying these principles in the governing context of China and possible ways of overcoming these difficulties,” Tang said. “It was meant to help public managers in China improve their leadership and managerial effectiveness.”

Professor Terry Cooper offered another practical lecture about how to foster social capital and ethics in government. “I have worked with Chinese officials for almost 30 years since living in Hong Kong as a Fulbright professor,” he said. “I feel a sense of commitment to assist them in any way that I can. My main field of public administration ethics is highly relevant to their struggle against corruption.”

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism also participated with lectures from Willow Bay, Geoffrey Cowan, Clayton Dube and Jian (Jay) Wang. Other university lecturers included Kenneth Foster from the USC Thornton School of Music, Jason E. Squire from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Kevin Starr from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and Christina Yu Yu from the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Their lectures touched on everything from communication policy to nonprofit arts funding to Hollywood.

“It was useful for our visitors from Shanghai to see the rich array of talent across campus, not just at the Price School,” Heikkila said.

Blending scholarship and practice

Photo by Deirdre Flanagan More photos available on Flickr »

During the program’s many site visits, the participants ventured to key cultural hotspots such as the Sony lot, the Paramount lot, the Getty, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the Music Center, the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Santa Monica Pier.

“I’m so grateful for the manner in which both our speakers from on campus and our partners off campus readily participated in this, and it really enriches the environment for the school as a whole,” Heikkila said. “It strengthens what are already fairly robust ties between our academic disciplines and related professional practice.”

This key combination of academics and professional practitioners impressed the Shanghai participants.

“The training program contains not only the spectacular lectures taught by world-class professors, but also abundant practical site visits, including but not limited to government agencies, public facilities, NGOs and famous film production companies,” said participant Ruixian Yang, deputy division director of the marketing division of the
Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV. “The training program provides us with the cultural administrative concept, model and practice of the U.S. government through different lenses.”

Participant Ye Wang, deputy manager of the Shanghai International Film Festival Center, also valued “the multi-dimensional combination of theoretical lectures and practical site visits.” She added, “The most valuable takeaway is that, through this 28-day training program, I have enhanced the knowledge and attained the methodology that can help improve my work back in China.”

The Chinese participants were not the only beneficiaries of the program, which was both an executive training and a rich cultural exchange.

As Heikkila explained, “At the Price School, we think engaging directly with very important government entities abroad has so much potential. It enriches all of our understanding of what’s taking place in China. And when we turn around and go back into the classroom, it makes us better able to help connect students, their minds, their understanding to what’s going on around the world through this direct global engagement.”

The USC Price School provides tailored executive training programs for officials overseas. For more information, please contact