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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges, collegiate houses, and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. For more about residential colleges and collegiate universities please visit the main Collegiate Way page.

Residential Colleges at Fudan University?

— Today’s New York Times Magazine carries a long article by Ann Hulbert called “Re-Education.” The article reports on education reform in China, and in particular on the move from highly-regimented forms of traditional Chinese education to more open-ended, Western styles of education, including broad exposure to the liberal arts. The story says in passing that Fudan University in Shanghai has established a house system modeled on the residential colleges of Harvard and Yale Universities in the United States:

[As a Chinese high school student named Neal] explained to me in an earlier e-mail message, composed in breaks from gaokao cramming, he said he needed “to watch and feel the system by my personal experience”—endure the burdens at their worst in the third year, the “endless homework, strict discipline, frequent exams and the peer pressure.” If he chose to stay in China, he would know how to push toward a new system in which students’ “curiosity is well protected to learn knowledge.” At the teahouse, Neal was already rallying the troops behind a vision of prodding change along at home. “At Fudan University”—which has just inaugurated a less specialized curriculum for freshmen and a house system modeled on Yale and Harvard—“I can take a lecture, and if I want to be more active, I can ask questions, I can tell my friends to ask questions and then students will change the system,” he said. “When a university is eager to change, the vital power is students.” Neal raised both eyebrows, a boy looking ready to rebel against the bookworm stereotype. “People say, ‘Whoa, you’re from China!’ Yes, I’m from China.”

I have not been able to locate any further information about this new residential college system on Fudan University’s English-language website, but there may be details available on the Chinese-language pages. I look forward to learning more about this important development.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2016