Sunday, January 8, 2012

American Colleges and Universities Mimic China

Alice C. Linsley

China has seen an increase in the number of universities and the focus has been on increasing the nation's wealth and power through science, engineering, and business management.

In 2008, a Thousand Talents program began recruiting established scientists everywhere under age 55 with lucrative grants and salaries to work in China. This year, Chinese officials rolled out the Young Thousand Talents program, with generous offers to attract even younger scientists.

In the past 15 years the number of Chinese universities has grown, and the number of degrees in science and technology has soared.  An estimated 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated in 2006. An official of the China Association for Science and Technology said recently, "The Chinese culture has a high respect for education, and families want their child to have a PhD, and will invest almost every coin they have in their child's education..."

One Chinese professor reports, "Among all the universities, only we have an anthropology department." There are about 20 students in that degree program and without government funding this program has little chance of survival. 

The Humanities and Social Sciences have fallen on hard times in China. That trend has taken hold of American Universities and colleges also. Physical sciences, engineering, and business receive bulk of foundation and government grants, and qualified people enjoy top salaries in both the public and private sectors.

I've experienced this trend personally.  For the past 10 years I have taught Philosophy, Ethics and World Religions at a women's college in central Kentucky. There are fewer and fewer courses for me to teach because the college has dedicated all resources to science, nursing, business, equestrian management and professional education degrees. Not a single course in Anthropology has been offered at the college in 10 years. Though I have been pioneering Biblical Anthropology for over 30 years and have over 600 publications in the field, I have not been asked to teach a single Anthropology class in 38 years of teaching.

This trend may be a conservative reaction to the more liberal and leftist tone of Humanities and Social Science professors, as well as a response to an economy that is not generating jobs.  It is impossible to know what the effects of this trend will be for future generations of Americans, but it is certain that as a nation we will be less educated and more more vulnerable to government regimentation and propaganda.  Is America following China's lead in education?

Related reading:  Should China Be Our Model in Higher Education?

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