A U.S.-China Dialogue on Education

On January 13, 2017, students from Stanford and Peking University gathered in their schools’ Highly Immersive Classrooms (HICs) for the annual FACES Telesummit.

This year’s Telesummit centered on issues in higher education in China and the United States, with Professors David Labaree and Francisco Ramirez from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education in dialogue with Peking University Professor Qin Chunhua, and MJ (Meijie) Tang, the Director of the Rhodes Scholarship’s China Program. The Telesummit was moderated by Steven Wang, FACES ’15.

What ensued was a lively, engaging discussion that touched on major issues facing higher education institutions and policymakers in both countries. Professors Labaree and Ramirez began by tracing the history of American higher education institutions. They outlined a persistent tension between the democratic ideal of autonomy within higher education institutions and the resulting trend towards corporatization as schools become more concerned with their bottom line than preserving the public good. This tension, Labaree noted, has turned America’s higher education system into a mechanism to preserve social advantage, instead of a driver of upward social mobility.

On the Beijing side, Professor Qin Chunhua questioned the legitimacy of the Chinese college admissions process. Speaking as a former college admissions officer, Chun was skeptical of the negative effects of the Gaokao standardized test system on individuals’ academic growth. MJ Tang described her own experience within the Chinese higher education system, humorously and passionately mapping her own youth onto the broader education reforms enacted by the Chinese government in the late 1990s. The panelists each brought diverse perspectives, adding depth to the Telesummit discussion, but not without exposing intriguing tensions among the different viewpoints.

 

Each of the panelists concluded by attempting to answer a deceptively simple question: What is the purpose of higher education? On the Beijing side, the panelists said that one should be able to find oneself and achieve a state of inner peace – MJ Tang related a successful higher education experience with the discovery of what "happiness" can be. On the other hand, Professor Ramirez hesitated to answer this overarching question, citing the different goals of the plethora of American higher education institutions. Professor Labaree also inspired amused curiosity from the attendees upon refusing to even answer the question. In the end, while the Telesummit discussion did lead to any definitive conclusions, it shed important light on many of the key challenges facing both countries’ higher education systems.

In many ways, both countries often face similar challenges from opposite perspectives, e.g. Chinese schools seek to incorporate diversity in a standardized admissions system, while schools in the US seek ways of making admissions more equitable in a system that is highly subjective.

By driving engagement on these issues, the Telesummit raised the possibility that there may be more that academics, policy makers, and administrators in both China and the United States can learn from each other as they work to tackle these problems at home.

Speaker Series: Renren Yang on Modern Chinese Identity

On Friday, May 13, Renren Yang, a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, came to speak to students about evolving notions of Chinese identity in modern times.  Drawing on classical ideas of what it means to be Chinese, Renren showed how "Chinese-ness" represents a particular mixture of cultural, racial, and national identity.  Whereas the development of many other peoples' modern identities coincided with the emergence of nation states, Chinese identity today hinges upon a peculiar negotiation between the codification of the Confucian value system in the distant past which entails a cultural-racial conception of Han superiority and the model for multi-ethnic people nation in the present. It is therefore necessary to look for other parameters to conceive Chinese identities other than culturalism and nationalism.

 

 

Alumni Interview: Siqi Mou

Alumni Interview: Siqi Mou

Siqi Mou is currently pursuing a joint degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on monetary policy, capital markets, public/private partnership, social entrepreneurship, and impact investment. Previously, she has worked for Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Siqi became a member of FACES in 2011 during her undergraduate career at Stanford, where she received a B.A. in Economics

Alumni Interview: Kai Lukoff

Alumni Interview: Kai Lukoff

Kai has been on the inside of China's smartphone revolution for the last five years. He is Director of Internationalization at Wandoujia, a mobile content search engine with over 300 million Android users in China. He’s leading the company’s global expansion, starting in Southeast Asia. As the founder of leading China tech blog, TechRice.com, he analyzes what matters in mobile. Kai is based in Beijing with his ear-to-the-ground, visiting internet cafes and the garages of early-stage Chinese entrepreneurs. His areas of expertise include mobile apps and games, social media, and e-commerce. Kai holds a BA from Stanford University. 

Alumni Interview: Jessica Chen-Weiss, Founder of FACES

Alumni Interview: Jessica Chen-Weiss, Founder of FACES

Jessica Chen-Weiss is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University and Research Fellow at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. Her research interests include Chinese politics and international relations, nationalism, and social protest. Her book, Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China's Foreign Relations, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press (Summer 2014). The dissertation on which it is based won the 2009 American Political Science Association Helen Dwight Reid Award for best dissertation in international relations, law and politics.

FACES hosts 2016 Stanford-Peking University Telesummit! Scholars and students discuss women's issues in a comparative light

FACES hosts 2016 Stanford-Peking University Telesummit! Scholars and students discuss women's issues in a comparative light

Last Tuesday, FACES hosted our annual Stanford-Peking University Telesummit, bringing scholars from China and the US together to discuss issues pertinent to both countries. It took the form of a panel discussion using a live video feed between state-of-the-art classrooms in the Stanford Center at Peking University in Beijing and at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The conversation centered on women’s issues and reproductive health. 

You can watch the full video recording by clicking "Read More"!

Stanford and Peking University Scholars Confront on Chinese Foreign Policies: Scholars Meet through the Inaugural FACES Telesummit

Through Stanford’s Highly Immersive Classrooms at the Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Center at Peking University, leading scholars from Stanford University and Peking University were invited to engage each other on a US-China relations topic alongside a forum of participating students from both universities for the inaugural FACES Telesummit. Luke Babich, FACES Vice President of Development, acted as moderator for this discussion and reports on the event in this article.