How can academics make courses in ideology more compelling to today’s university students?
SIXTH TONE - Jul 24, 2017
Every year, more than 7 million young people enter colleges across mainland China.
Later, nearly 10 percent of them will continue their studies in
graduate school. While at university, both undergraduate and graduate
students alike must take compulsory classes on political and ideological
In the minds of many Westerners, the very fact that
Chinese students take obligatory Marxism classes is tantamount to
brainwashing — but that’s a debate for another day. As a professor of
Marxism, my primary concern is that the classes are not always
interesting to students. In recent years, nearly everything about these
courses, from their format to their content, has undergone radical
change. Still, reforming the dull, dry, and didactic traditional
teaching methods is no easy task.
The courses have undergone numerous changes
since 1949. At present, undergraduates are required to take four such
classes: Basic Principles of Marxism; Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought
and Socialism With Chinese Characteristics; Modern Chinese History; and
Ideological and Moral Cultivation and Basics of Law. Master’s students,
meanwhile, take a course titled “Socialism With Chinese
Characteristics: Theory and Practice,” and doctoral students take one
called “Chinese Marxism and the Contemporary World.” In addition, there
are several electives available to students seeking a more comprehensive
overview of the topic.