The idea of a Chinese university: A comparison with western models from epistemological and cultural perspectives

Jun LI, Ruth HAYHOE

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

With a long tradition, China is recently on its way moving to a mass system with world-class status institutions in its upper echelons. This has made the Chinese model of the university a unique phenomenon. Based on empirical findings from 12 Chinese universities, this paper aims at an investigation of the emerging Chinese model of the university from epistemological and cultural perspectives. It distills some core institutional features, such as ethics-centered knowledge and application, secular and social missions, self-mastery with a dominant role for government, intellectual freedom for scholars in their role as scholars and intellectual authority for scholars in their role as officials, a hierarchical and meritocratic system, and institutional and disciplinary diversity. There will be a brief reflection on the history of Chinese higher education institutions in different historical periods, i.e., the legends of their earliest history, the institutionalization in the middle ages and the transformation in contemporary times. It concludes that a Chinese model of the university has been profoundly influenced by Confucian epistemology and Chinese ways of knowing, also the normative application of knowledge, all of which are unique, when comparing to counterparts in the West. Finally, the paper anticipates that the rise of the Chinese model of the university in the 21st century will serve as a strong alternative “glocal” (Robertson, 1992) force and contribute significantly to open societies in multiple ways. Alongside of various Western models, as well as emerging models from other civilizations, it will facilitate the global dialogue among civilizations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Citation

Li, J., & Hayhoe, R. (2011, May). The idea of a Chinese university: A comparison with western models from epistemological and cultural perspectives. Paper presented at the 55th Annual Conference Comparative and International Education Society, Montreal, Canada.

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