Posts in: General
Over the last few days, I visited Beijing and Guangzhao. In Beijing, I gave a talk on the liberal arts at Tsinghua University (the top university in China) and met with Deputy Dean Guizhi Yan to discuss potential collaborations between CC and Tsinghua.
In Guangzhao, I met with parents and students who participated in last summer’s CC program there. Professor Steve Hayward taught a writing course for high school students in Guangzhao. They loved him and look forward to continuing the collaboration. I also gave a public talk on the liberal arts in Guangzhao. This time my talk was followed by short remarks by three high school principals and then a Q&A session.
The questions that followed all three of my talks made it clear that there is growing interest in China in the liberal arts and the way we educate our students (small classes, faculty-student interaction, experiential education). As one speaker arguing for reform in China put it “with our current system and its focus on memorization and tests, we will produce labor but not innovators.” Professors and administrators at both universities were very interested in thinking about curriculum reform with more focus on the humanities and arts at the university-level. They were also intrigued by our Block Plan. We talked about potential collaborations around faculty development. Parents, high school principals, and students were very interested in learning more about liberal arts colleges in the US. I heard over and over again that while Chinese students used to be completely focused on gaining admission to top universities, they are now increasingly interested in liberal arts colleges.
It is an exciting time for higher education in China! While there is much discussion in the US about the relevance of a liberal arts education in today’s specialized world, many in China are embracing the liberal arts. They understand that a liberal education is more relevant for this generation of students than ever before. In a recent New York Times article (2-4-14), David Brooks writes about the skills that people need now that computers can do so many things for us. He writes: “Being able to be a straight-A student will be less valuable — gathering masses of information and regurgitating it back on tests.” Among the really valuable human traits will be curiosity, passion, networking and “the ability to grasp the essence of one thing, and then the essence of some very different thing, and smash them together to create some entirely new thing.” In other words, the liberal arts!
In Shanghai, I hosted a reception for CC alumni and parents and the students and faculty studying at Fudon University joined the group. It was a pleasure to talk with parents whose sons and daughters are happy CC students and to meet with alumni using their liberal arts education to forge careers in this dynamic environment. A Chinese student who was accepted early decision to CC for the Class of 2018 also joined us. It is wonderful to see that CC is extending our reach – through students, faculty, and alumni – to China!
This week I am in China visiting our students and faculty studying in Shanghai, giving several speeches on the liberal arts, and meeting with current and potential partners in building new international programs. Yesterday, I signed a agreement for continuing our collaboration with Fudan University (one of China’s top universities), where our study group currently resides. Fudan University and Colorado College agree to promote the exchange of scholars, academic information, and other academic exchange activities for the next five years. I also exchanged gifts with Fudan’s President Yang Yuliang and gave a talk entitled “Innovation and Collaboration: A Liberal Arts Education as a Catalyst for New Ideas,” which was well-received by Fudan administrators, students and faculty. Thanks to Professors Hong Jiang and John Williams who are leading our study group and helped to organize these events!
Adam Miller, class of 2014, and local entrepreneur Steve Kaczmarek (who also went to CC) met while Steve was teaching a class at Colorado College as an adjunct professor. Since then, they’ve been developing “fat bikes” that have been wildly popular after Adam and Steve launched their start-up, Fat Bike LLC in 2013. A few months ago, they moved into a new location in Colorado Springs at 110 S. Weber Street. Based on the demand for their bikes, they estimate they will move from the current 11 employees to over 20 in the next four years on top of bringing in an estimated $2 million dollars in sales this year. To check out the Fat Bike Company and their Borealis Bikes, go to http://www.fatbike.com/#.
Last semester, Professor Steven Hayward’s submission was selected to the “Top 20 Bloodlines Stories” out of more than 800 entries. Showcasing his signature wit, Steve’s piece, entitled “Spitting Image,” deals with the difficulty of accepting the loss of a loved one by highlighting his experience of not fulfilling a familial responsibility at his grandfather’s funeral. To read his story, visit the CBC Bloodlines webpage.