China Halts U.S. College Freedom at Class Door

With a growing number of U.S. colleges building campuses in China (including, most recently, New York University and the University of California, Berkeley), Bloomberg looks at one long-standing program and its limitations on academic freedom outside the classroom walls. At the prestigious Hopkins-Nanjing Center, run by Johns Hopkins and Nanjing Universities, a student was forbidden from distributing a journal of academic writing outside the campus:

The muzzling of Stewart’s journal exposes the compromises to that some American universities make in China. While professors and students openly discuss sensitive subjects such as the Tibetan independence movement or the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests on the Hopkins-Nanjing campus, they can’t do so in the surrounding community. Even on-campus protections only cover class discussions, not activities typical of U.S. campuses, such as showing documentary films in a student lounge.
Price for Expansion

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center is a model for a growing number of U.S. colleges, including Duke University and New York University, which are establishing footholds in China. As the newcomers take advantage of multimillion-dollar subsidies from China, they may jeopardize the intellectual give-and-take that characterizes American higher education, said June Teufel Dreyer, a University of Miami political science professor and China specialist.

“In their enthusiasm to be part of the Chinese educational picture, American universities may be ceding some measure of their independence to avoid offending the government,” Dreyer said.

November 30, 2011, 12:12 AM
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