William C. Kirby

Dr. Kirby is T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard University and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is a University Distinguished Service Professor and serves as Chairman of the Harvard China Fund and Faculty Chair of the Harvard Center Shanghai. At Harvard he has served as Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Chairman of the History Department, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His current projects include case studies of trend-setting Chinese businesses and a comparative study of higher education in China, Europe, and the United States. His most recent book is Can China Lead? (Harvard Business Review Press).

“Spirits Independent” Teaching and Learning in the Spirit of May 4th

 (pre-recorded presentation, plus live Q&A session)


Education in the liberal arts and sciences is strong in Hong Kong, and it is growing in influence in many parts of Asia, including the Chinese mainland, where new programs in liberal arts and general education have been introduced in recent years.


An education rooted in the liberal arts was at the heart of the educational revolution in Beijing a century ago, when Peking University President Cai Yuanpei (蔡元培)reformed the university’s curriculum on German models and welcomed scholars of diverse backgrounds and views.


We are now a century removed from the most famous moment of President Cai’s tenure, the student movement that began on May 4, 1919. What was the impact, and what is the legacy for us today, of the May Fourth Movement in higher education?

How does this past speak to our present?

  • facebook-square
  • Twitter Square
  • LinkedIn Black Square