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A new program, led by Penn professors, will help a Beijing school understand why some fliers compel students to wash their hands, while others don’t quite persuade students to grab the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer.

This summer, a group of faculty of Penn’s Annenberg School of Communication plan to share their expertise in the field of health communication with the Chinese public at the Summer Institute for Health Communication Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

Health communication is the practice of “helping change peoples’ behavior so that they lead better lives” through mass media, said Director of Annenberg’s Center for Global Communication Studies Monroe Price, who added that Annenberg is one of the world leaders in the field.

The summer institute will commence with a one-day symposium at Renmin on health communication studies in the United States and China, with a focus on communicable disease. A series of lectures and discussions about many health communication issues will follow, lead by several Penn faculty and researchers including Annenberg professors Joseph. Cappella and Robert Hornik, researcher Amy Jordan.

Annenberg has been hosting visiting scholars from Chinese universities for a while, according to Libby Morgan, Senior Research Coordinator for the Center for Global Communication Studies at Annenberg. This year, a scholar from Renmin took the lead in bringing together a collaboration between Renmin and Penn faculties.

However, one difficulty that may arise from the program is that of communication across languages. Although most of the Chinese scholars participating speak English and some of the American participants speak Chinese, Morgan theorized that, since health communication studies is new to China, some of the theory might get lost in translation.

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