Events in UCIS

Thursday, October 25 until Wednesday, May 1

8:30 am Exhibit
Travelers Along the Silk Roads: 10th Century to the Present
Ground and Second Floors, Hillman Library
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Year of PittGlobal and Hillman Library
See Details

Free and Open to the Public during Hillman Library Hours

The term Silk Road, coined by 19th century German explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen, refers to a loose network of overland trade routes stretching from the Mediterranean to East Asia. Textiles, gems, spices, animals and even religions were all exchanged along this vast expanse, starting around 1,000 B.C. and continuing for millennia. For much of this time, most Silk Road traders coming from western Eurasia were Muslim, and they brought their beliefs and rich culture to millions of people.

A Crossroads of Ideas

While the Silk Road was a two-way route, most of its movement was eastward, carrying Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and later, Islam.

By the 8th century, Muslims stopped thinking of religion geographically and began seeking converts along the Silk Road. The benefits of conversion to such a widespread religion were many, as Muslims preferred trading with other Muslims.

Islamic scientific and medical advancements also had significant impact on Silk Road travelers. Chinese Buddhist traders adopted Islamic medical knowledge in wound healing and urinalysis. Muslims brought India their insights on astronomy, including a skepticism of the geocentric universe.

Cultural Exchange Along the Route

Influences from Buddhist China and other regions also affected radical changes in Islam. In the 12th century, abstract Islamic art suddenly started depicting human figures, long considered forbidden in Islam. Murals showing Buddhist statues and Indian narrative artwork started appearing in mosques, and Islamic art exploded with new techniques and figures. Chinese technologies, such as paper production and gunpowder, were transmitted to the West. Iran’s art in the Mongol period (13th and 14th centuries) is dramatically influenced by Chinese artistic traditions.

The Exhibit Design

The ground floor cases in Hillman Library feature a map of the Silk Road from its Eastern terminus in the Chinese city of Xian to its western terminus in Constantinople. They also display the late-14th century Catalan Atlas, the most detailed world map of its time, showing key places along and major figures who traveled the overland route of the Silk Road. The exhibit continues on the second floor of Hillman Library in five thematic display cases:

*Horses and Dynasties: Cartography and Painting in China, 10th-14th Centuries,
*Alexander the Great, Kublai Khan, and Marco Polo: Confluences of Power and Exchange in Assia,
*Musical Encounters in the Deserts and Mountains of Central Asia,
*Explorations in Turkestan: Aurel Stein and Bamiyan, and
*New World Exploitation and the China Trade with Europe.

Tuesday, January 15

12:00 pm Lecture Series / Brown Bag
Conversations on Europe: The Finnish Education Model: What Can We Learn?
4217 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center
See Details

Finland’s education system consistently ranks high in the OECD’s annual Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, prompting U.S. educators and education reformers to ask “What can the U.S. learn from Finland?” In this installment of our monthly roundtable series, the ESC has invited education experts to discuss this question and explore issues impacting student achievement in both countries. Join us for this virtual roundtable to go beyond the op-eds and blog posts for a richer conversation on education in Europe and the U.S. Audience participation is encouraged.
To participate remotely, contact

3:00 pm Lecture
The New Triangular Relationship Between the U.S., China, Latin America, and the Caribbean
Alcoa Room, Barco Law Building
Sponsored by:
Asian Studies Center and Center for Latin American Studies
See Details

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), the Asian Studies Center, and the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) at the University of Pittsburgh present:

The New Triangular Relationship Between the U.S., China, Latin America, and the Caribbean: Socioeconomic Conditions and Challenges
With Enrique Dussel Peters
Professor of Economics, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)

January 15, 2019
Alcoa Room - Barco Law Building
3:00 p.m.

How has China's increasing presence in Latin America created a "new triangular relationship" between the U.S., China, and Mexico? Dr. Dussel Peters will explore a variety of critical topics relating to the importance of theory and methodology to understanding China within and beyond its borders, with a particular focus on China in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The presentation will be followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Ariel Armony, Vice Provost of Global Affairs and Director of the University Center for International Studies (UCIS).

For more information, please e-mail