Orville Schell was born in New York City and graduated from Harvard University Magna Cum Laude in Far Eastern History studying under Professors Benjamin Schwartz and John King Fairbank.
Prof. Schell then studied Chinese language at Stanford University, was an exchange student at National Taiwan University and finally received his MA and Ph.d (abd) from the University of California, Berkeley.
He has worked for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia and covered the war in Indochina for magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly and the New Republic. Since then, he has written widely for many other magazine and newspapers,including The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Harpers, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Wired, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, the China Quarterly, Harpers and the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. He has written fourteen books, nine on China, and is at work on an interpretation of the last 100 years of Chinese history.
Prof. Schell was a Fellow at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and the recipient of many prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Overseas Press Club Award, and the Harvard-Stanford Shorenestien Prize in Asian Journalism.
Schell, the former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley for eleven years, was recently appointed by the Asia Society as the Arthur Ross Director to set up its new Center on US China Relations in New York City. The Center is now working on a number of new projects to strengthen Sino-US relations, including the Initiative on US-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate, a joint partnership with the The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, as well as The Brookings Institution, The National Committee on US-China Relations, Environmental Defense and the Council on Foreign Relations. The Initiative's Co-chairs have been John Thornton and Steve Chu, now Secretary of Energy.
Professor Schell is a Fellow at the Weatherhead East Asian Insititute at Columbia University, a Senior Fellow at the Annenberg School of Communications at USC and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
He is married to Liu Baifang and has three children.