The Newsletter 72 Autumn 2015

A China scholar working in China

Lena Scheen

“What do you think about the recent news on minister Yuan Guiren?”, a Chinese student asked the professor after her guest lecture on the history of Chinese civic education. I had invited the professor of East China Normal University’s (ECNU) Department of Politics to give a lecture for my course ‘Social and Cultural Debates in Twentieth-Century China’. Before the professor could answer, the student explained for his classmates that Yuan Guiren was the Chinese education minister who had allegedly stated that universities should not use textbooks promoting Western values. “Why would the minister say that?”, an American student asked. “Do you agree?”, a Pakistani student followed up. Other students joined in: “Has this happened before?”; “Will this also affect us?” While listening to the professor’s long and thoughtful answers followed by a vigorous discussion between the students and the professor I realized: Yes, this is why I wanted to work at NYU Shanghai, why I wanted to work in China.