In this essay, we interrogate the role of academic freedom in the 21st century by describing its historical genesis in the modern university, its association with the concept of tenure, and how it is reinterpreted by different cultural and social contexts. Afterwards, we examine traditional infringements by national governments upon academic freedom, as well as new infringements brought on by the forces of globalization and commercialization. Since academic freedom not only protects scholarly inquiry, but the health and safety of academics across the world, we argue that academic freedom is a “transcendent value” that should be respected by political and institutional forces and carefully defended by engaged scholars.
Academic freedom is best understood not as an abstract universal principle or an ideal state of being but as concrete university practices nested in specific relational environments. As such, practices of academic freedom vary across the world, according to variations in political cultures, educational cultures and state-university relations. The article discusses these variations with particular reference to differences between universities associated with the limited liberal states of the English-speaking world, and those associated with comprehensive East Asian states in the Sinic tradition, including China. Given the different traditions there is no point in imposing judgments on one system in terms of the norms of another, but worth exploring the potential for common ground. Any world-wide approach to academic freedom would need to combine a universal element with space for context-specific elements.
This paper attempts to address connections between the Chinese model for development or the “Beijing Consensus” and Chinese universities. Chinese universities seem to be caught between serving governmental agendas and pursuing their own goals as an academic community. Up until recently, they had become used to following the lead of the government, which often comes with rationales and approaches featuring pragmatism and utilitarianism. Drawing on the perspectives of social embeddedness and external control of organizations in higher education, we argue that the lack of dynamism and innovation that is hindering Chinese higher education’s development is largely owing to the political, social, and cultural factors prevailing in the environment in which the universities operate. Put in another way, Chinese universities are confronting a crisis, owing to the inbuilt constraints of China’s development model.
Educational values in both the United States and in China have suffered from the social and political reach of economic markets in each society. The models for counteracting the marketization of values in higher education can however be found in each country’s past educational traditions. Surprisingly, the developmental values inherent in small liberal arts college teaching dovetail easily with the personal developmental benefits in the pedagogy of classical Confucian academies, as both center on the validation of the process by which students learn for themselves.
This article explores the way in which the World Bank has worked effectively with China in higher education. It investigates whether or not the cooperation between the two has changed in line with their changing relationship. More specifically, it discusses whether the World Bank’s China agenda reflects the reform package of socio-institutional neoliberalism which the World Bank has tended to promote worldwide in the era of the Post-Washington Consensus, and how China’s higher education reform has been influenced by the agenda. The article argues that as China is transferring its role from that of a recipient country to that of a donor country, it is increasingly important to position itself as a global player. Other than mastering the game rules of the international community, China should also expand its influence within and through these major international organizations.
This paper is based on a study of three Confucius Institutes in Canada. The research aims to explore the nature of operations at Confucius Institutes, ranging from the selection of partnering Chinese universities, to the program planning at each individual site. Specifically, it focuses on the perceived impacts of the Confucius Institute partnership on the Canadian hosting institutions. Data was collected through interviews with key administrative staff from three Canadian universities. The theoretical framework of constructivism from international relations theory and concepts drawn from the literature on the internationalization of higher education were used to analyze the findings. Key issues revealed from the data include the host’s perception of Confucius Institutes as China’s cultural diplomacy and soft power strategy, the progression of partnerships between Canada and China over time, and university autonomy.