The Wang Center opened in 2002 thanks to the vision of donors Drs. Peter '60 and Grace Wang. With their generous philanthropy, the Wangs have emphasized the role education can play in building a more peaceful world.
In concert with the Pacific Lutheran University mission of empowering students for "lives of thoughtful enquiry, leadership, service and care – for other people, for their communities and for the earth," the Wang Centers is dedicated to preparing global citizens and advocates for peace.
The first Wang Center International Symposium was held in April 2003, “China: Bridges for a New Century.” Since then the symposiums have become a modern tradition designed to stimulate serious thinking about current issues, and to provide a forum in which the Greater Puget Sound community, and PLU community of students, faculty, administrator and staff can be stimulated to engage international, national and local stature – from scholars and authors to business people and hands-on practitioners in thinking seriously about contemporary issues.
In planning for each symposium the challenge is to include appropriate breadth and depth in order to stimulate the interests of a diverse audience and facilitate maximum participation in the symposium.
Past Symposia focused on “Pathways to Peace: Norway’s Approach to Democracy and Development” (January 2005), “Advances in Global Health by Non-Governmental Organizations” (February 2008) and "Understanding the World through Sports and Recreation" (March 2010).
In non-symposium years, the Wang Center hosts on-campus “World Conversation” events which highlight the global learning of students and faculty, and brings to campus what they have learned through study away and research around the world. The first of these World Conversations took place in 2007 following PLU being nationally recognized as the first U.S. university to have students studying simultaneously on all seven continents. This occurred in January term 2006, and has subsequently been repeated in January 2008 and 2010.