On Friday afternoon the 20th of October, the President of Wesleyan University Michael S. Roth visited PKU. Upon entering Linhuxuan building after his tour of campus, Mr. Roth, President of Wesleyan University and Mr. Gao Song, Vice President of PKU, exchanged gifts.
Wesleyan is one of the largest Liberal Arts universities in the United States with an impressive 8:1 student to faculty member ratio. As of now, Wesleyan already has ties with PKU through the Division of Social Sciences.
After a brief exchange on the stance of both representatives on how they are internationalizing and diversifying their universities, Roth showed great admiration for the intertwined structure between diverse departments at PKU. The two shook hands and Mr. Roth extended his wishes that Wesleyan and PKU form a stronger and more intimate bonds in the future between the two universities.
Following their meeting, Roth headed to the Yenching Academy building, where a packed room of Yenching students waited for his lecture. He began with promoting his book Beyond University, which contains a more elaborate version of the story he is about to tell. His lecture was on why liberal education matters and with a booming voice and humorous energy he keeps the room alive.
Mr. Roth mentioned that after the financial crash of ’08, some institutions have ‘narrowed’ their academics, in such a way that every student started to learn a certain niche. Mr. Roth, a big supporter of a broad education in the form of Liberal Arts, deemed this to be a big mistake. He very clearly stated that “students shouldn’t be required to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives yet when they apply for universities”. Mr. Roth claimed that when education is aimed at pointing a student in a predetermined particular direction, it cannot fulfil its true purpose of setting people free. Mr. Roth claimed that when students go to university, they must be allowed to “find themselves and answer questions like ‘who am I’ and ‘what do I want’”. He firmly believed that the broader and more pragmatic liberal education can offer students exactly this.
Writer: Willem Prisse