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Cooperative Study of Sino-Western Universities Report of a Meeting at Sichuan University, March 1988 by Arthur Waldron Last March I took part in a meeting at Sichuan University to discuss the possibilities for cooperative Chinese-Western research on a topic which even !i few years ago would have been simply impossible ; namely, the history lf Western-sponsored Christian higher education in China before ljl49, and its legacy in the present. Twenty-one Chinese scholars representing eight institutions were involved . They presented fascinating reports, organized an informal group to promote research on their common interest, and laid plans for similar meetings in the future. Upon my return I submitted a long report to my sponsoring organizations (The United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia and the Henry Luce Foundation). I think, however, that some of it may also be of interest to the Republican Studies community generally, and what follows is part of my introduction, my summary of reports and discussion about the topic itself, and an abbreviated account of the plans for the future that were agreed. Readers wishing to know more should get in touch with me at the Department of History, 129 Dickinson Hall, Princeton University , Princeton, NJ 08544. Telephone: (609)452-4159. I. INTRODUCTION A general idea of the state of sources relating to the former Christian colleges and of Chinese academic interest in them was obtained during three previous visits to China. Two of these (in July 1986 and November-December 1987) were made by the present author, and a third, in May of 1987 by Helen Hardacre, of the Department of Religion at Princeton, and Edward Xu, a Fudan University faculty member who is currently a giaduate student at Princeton. In part as a result of those earlier visits, the History Department of Sichuan University in Chengdu organized a meeting from March 7-10, 1988, at which some twenty-one Chinese scholars, representing eight different institutions, gathered to exchange information about their work and to discuss possibilities for research on the history of Christian higher education in the pre-1949 period. As a group they also took the preliminary steps toward creating an informal Chinese organization to coordinate such work, and expressed the hope that Western scholars might be able to work with them. 75 The meeting made clear that strong and positive interest in the topic of Christian higher education and its legacy is shared by some of China's most distinguished scholars, and that it is thus quite realistic~to envision some sort of ongoing cooperation, leading to substantial scholarly results. The topic, of course, remains sensitive, but developments over the last two or three years, and straws in the wind today, point to further favorable evolution. Present at the meeting were representatives from Peking University , Fudan University, Huazhong Normal University, Nanjing University , Suzhou University, Shandong University, Sichuan University, and the Sichuan Provincial Academy of Sciences. Prevented from attending were delegates from Huadong Normal University and the Shanghai Academy of Social sciences, as well as two professors from Tianjin and Fuzhou. Most of the scholars involved had never met before, and it was encouraging to watch them warm to one another, so that by the third day they formed a sympathetic and convivial group. The first two days of the meeting were devoted to reports about the state both of resources and of research related to the Christian universities at each of the institutions, and to often 1ively discussions about directions of future research. The third day was ostensibly tourism--a trip to Guanhsian, and the famous Dujiangyan irrigation system--but discussion and consultation continued informally. Finally, at a closing session, the formation of an informal group to coordinate future research was decided upon, and an initial document describing its organization and purposes was approved. This group, whose initial headquarters will be Sichuan University , will coordinate a'nd facilitate research, publish a newsletter and an occasional journal (containing articles, extracts from archives , oral history summaries, etc.) and generallY handle administration . It was agreed as well that the next formal meeting of the group should be a scholarly gathering, which Huazhong Normal University has offered to host, in June of 1989. A...


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