Arts and humanities may be down but will not be out: A perspective from East Asia’s liberal arts education, boya education and cultural quality education

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


In this paper, the ancient European and Chinese approaches to whole person education, namely liberal arts education in Europe and “Boya education” in China will be compared. Despite their similarity in aiming to develop well rounded graduates, their different curricula have profound long term consequences. One of them is that the Scientific Revolution took place in Europe but not in China. The other is that thousands of years later, the East Asian countries all had to learn from the Europeans in building modern universities, especially in the sciences, engineering and medical subjects.

But the Confucian tradition of whole person education is not lost in China and other countries that embrace Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism. Some key aspects of building Chinese universities in the early 20th century will be illustrated. Also illustrated will be the experience of Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. In addition to the Confucian tradition, Japan also has a tradition of Buddhist whole person education. Beyond these East Asian countries, some observations on India’s and Saudi Arabia’s effort to build universities that are internationally competitive will also be made.

Arts and humanities may now appear to be down relative to the popular STEM subjects, but they will not be out because they will be important for cultivating national cultures and values in the above East Asian countries. In addition, arts and humanities will be indispensable to creativity and humanism in the world of automation and smart manufacturing.
Period26 Jan 2023
Event titleCGHE Seminar
Event typeSeminar