In the spring of 2012, the Language and Thinking program was approached by Bard student Willem Molesworth about his plan to explore the possibility of liberal arts education in China. Willem’s experience as a student in the Language and Thinking program has inspired him to think that the theory and praxis of the program might be adapted for an exploratory workshop at Qingdao University. Willem secured funding from the Davis Projects for Peace and Bard College’s Center for Civic Engagement and persuaded Bard College professor Mercedes Dujunco to work with him. Thomas Bartscherer, the director of Language and Thinking, worked closely with Willem and Mercedes to develop a plan for the three-week workshop in Qingdao, and Mercedes joined the new Language and Thinking faculty for their week-long training in Annandale in July. Willem and Mercedes are now in Qingdao and the program is up and running.
Here is how Willem describes the project:
In China, a growing recognition that innovation and broad-based knowledge are critical for the country’s continued economic development has given rise to an increased interest in liberal arts education. With an orientation towards well-rounded programs of study and student-centered, engaged learning, liberal arts is now seen as a potential partner to the Chinese educational system. Qingdao’s Liberal Arts Initiative brings a highly developed liberal arts program—based on Bard College’s renowned Language and Thinking program—to Qingdao in order to immerse interested Chinese students and faculty in liberal arts education. The program is hosted from August 6th until August 24th and includes two seminars: an intensive week long teacher’s workshop for Qingdao Professors and a two week long series of shorter seminars for students.
Bard Professor Mercedes Dujunco initiates the program by leading the week long teacher’s workshop. After the conclusion of these five intensive days she passes leadership onto the participant Chinese professors, who are each afforded the opportunity to instruct a single student seminar. During this time, the professors will experiment and play with the liberal arts style of education in the Chinese context.
Classes are conducted in Mandarin Chinese and the materials used combine both translated works and original Chinese publications. The theme throughout the initiative is “Ways of Listening and Ways of Seeing.” For more information about the program and for day-to-day updates visit: liberalartsinqingdao.tumblr.com