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CC President Takes the Liberal Arts to China

Tiefenthaler Finds Chinese Fascinated by Block Plan

CC President Takes the Liberal Arts to China

Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler recently visited China, where she spent time in Beijing and Guangzhou, experiencing firsthand the growing interest in China in the value of a liberal arts education and its relevance in today’s global economy.

While there, she met with various education and government leaders about the role the liberal arts can play in energizing the Chinese economy and society. She gave talks on the subject “Innovation and Collaboration: A Liberal Arts Education as a Catalyst for New Ideas,” in which she stressed how the liberal arts, one of the most distinctive features of American higher education, leads to creativity, collaboration, and innovation, which Tiefenthaler believes may be the three most important ingredients for success in today’s global economy.

In Beijing Tiefenthaler spoke at Tsinghua University, the top university in China, and met with Deputy Dean Guizhi Yan to discuss potential collaborations between CC and the university.

In Guangzhou, where Colorado College offered a highly successful writing course for high school students last summer, Tiefenthaler met with parents and the students who participated in the program. She also gave a talk on the liberal arts education, which was followed by remarks from three high school principals and a question and answer session.

“The questions that followed all three of my talks made it clear that there is growing interest in China in the liberal arts and the way we educate our students – small classes, faculty-student interaction, experiential education,” Tiefenthaler said. The audience was fascinated by Colorado College’s Block Plan, with one Chinese speaker noting that "with our current system and its focus on memorization and tests, we will produce labor but not innovators."

Tiefenthaler heard over and over again that while Chinese students used to be completely focused on gaining admission to top universities, they are now increasingly interested in liberal arts colleges.

While in China, Tiefenthaler also signed an agreement for continued collaboration with Fudan University, located in Shanghai.  The agreement indicates a commitment between Fudan University and Colorado College to promote the exchange of scholars, academic information, and other academic exchange activities for the next five years. “I’m thrilled to be able to build upon our established relationship with Fudan University, and also to pursue the new opportunities discovered while visiting in China,” she said. Read more on President Tiefenthaler's blog.