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Scholars on Ideal and Reality of University Education

The first CUHK 50th Anniversary Public Lecture, entitled ‘The Ideal and Reality of University Education’, was held on 9 March at the Hong Kong Central Library. Presented by Prof. Lee Ou-fan Leo (left), Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture of CUHK, and Prof. Kwan Tze-wan (right), professor in the Department of Philosophy, the lecture drew a full house of about 300 participants.

Professor Lee recalled his admiration for the spirit of New Asia College and the rich Chinese culture and humanistic spirit of CUHK which drove him to join the University in the early 70s. He gave an account of what a University spirit should be by quoting the definition of a university by Mr. Cai Yuanpei, former president of Peking University, drawing on the book The Idea of the University by Prof. Ambrose King, former CUHK Vice-Chancellor, as well as Ten Lectures of Chinese University by Prof. Chen Pingyuan.

Professor Kwan briefly introduced the much-discussed Humboldtian Model of university education, traced its historical background, discussed its basic tenets and ideals, and showed how it has influenced the development of university education worldwide. This Humboldtian backdrop was then compared to the reality of contemporary university education in order to arrive at some critical reflections on the educational practices in universities of our time, especially regarding the disinterested nature of education and research, and the solitude and freedom of a university.

The two scholars also engaged in a dialogue with the audience on the contradiction between business management model and the ideal of a university, as well as development under the system.

The 50th Anniversary Public Lecture Series consists of eight lectures.