Since humanity entered the 20th century, diversity has become a key feature that manifests itself in all aspects of society. As a venue for people and ideas to meet, universities face ever-increasing challenges in fulfilling their cultural mission. With unprecedented human connectivity, cultural competence is more than a goal. It has become an essential skill for students and a key concern for policymakers and practitioners across the world. Considering the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to cultural competence education, this article aims to elucidate the significance of the notion of cultural self-awareness proposed by Fei Xiaotong, China’s premier social anthropologist. It explores how Fei’s insights can facilitate universities to rethink their conception and delivery of cultural competence education. By challenging the tendency for cultural competence education to be segregated among a range of disciplines and moving it to the core of the university’s curricular offerings, the article promises an approach whereby all students, regardless of their disciplinary backgrounds, can benefit from the full development of their cultural capability, as can the institution, wider community, and society as a whole.
In contrast to the continued decline of liberal arts education in the US, there has been a revived interest in liberal arts education in Asian countries in recent years. Grounded in a comprehensive understanding of the central tenets of liberal arts education in the West, this paper looks into the struggles Asian countries face in their exploration of liberal arts education and provides a direction for Asian countries in their efforts to practice liberal arts education. This paper establishes the deep connections between humanistic approaches of the Confucian tradition and liberal arts education by pointing to a common ground for the education of humanity. Ultimately, the purpose of liberal arts education, in the East as well as in the West, should be the liberation of human beings from the constraints of ignorance, prejudice and traditional customs and through the cultivation of a cosmopolitan morality that emphasizes unity, solidarity and the fusion of humankind. Chinese universities should contemplate the purpose and value of higher education in the 21st century and tap into the rich resources of Confucianism in order to give its liberal arts education a “soul.”
Research on international students’ experiences abroad has tended to rely on models of adjustment, integration and/or acculturation to describe their (mis-)encounters with different kinds of people (e.g., co-nationals, locals and other international students). This paper proposes to use the more fluid concepts of imaginaries and hospitality, leaving behind stages and phases of adaption and acculturation, and focusing on the influence of the Structure on their experiences. Based on a discursive pragmatic analysis of interview data with 20 international students at a top Chinese university, the authors review how the students describe the kind of hospitality experienced at this institution and the influence that it has on their (mis-)encounters. Culturalist, differentialist and essentialist imaginaries (static and fixed views of Chineseness) are often used to justify the lack of encounters and the “segregation” and somewhat “positive discrimination” that they experienced. However, the paper shows that, amongst others, the institutional hospitality management for international students leads to closed contexts of encounters and feelings of exclusion. Although the study serves as a case study and cannot be generalized to the many and varied experiences of international students in other universities in China, some recommendations are made to solve, at least in part, misconceptions about what interculturality and hospitality entail in the internationalization of higher education.
In China, the university-school partnership (USP) is a community of continuous professional development (PD) for teachers, involving teacher educators who visit schools. This study explores teachers’ personal factors, school working conditions, and principal leadership in order to explain differences in teachers’ learning when they have participated in the training program. Using a one-group pretest-posttest design, 375 teachers from 12 primary schools in Shanghai participated. Their learning performances are measured by changes in their teaching quality as evaluated by their students. Results of regression analyses show that teachers generally receive higher scores on teaching quality after the program than before. Three factors are significantly and negatively related to the changes in quality: teachers’ educational level, the extent to which teachers feel emotional pressure in their profession, and the support from their school principal. Implications for school leaders and policymakers are discussed.
Extensive research has suggested that there is a large rural-urban student achievement gap in China. However, less is known about the effects of family background and parental expectations on student achievement. Using a large representative sample of Chinese eighth graders, this study examines these relationships. We find that: (1) Rather than a rural/urban hukou (household registration system) type, it is variation in family background, especially family socioeconomic status (SES), which plays a significant role in student achievement; (2) although factors of family background show different patterns of influence on Chinese, mathematics, and English achievement, maternal education and home educational resources are significantly positive predictors consistently across three subjects; (3) parental expectations are significantly and positively associated with Chinese, mathematics, and English achievement.