In the evening of May 19, 2011, upon invitation by Student Union of Tsinghua University, Professor QIAN Yingyi, Dean of School of Economics and Management held a lecture about undergraduate education reform at Times Forum with Tsinghua students. In the lecture, Dean Qian shared with the audience his personal experience in SEM’s historic venture of undergraduate education reform; he also talked with the students about his reflections and prospects in general on this issue.
Dean QIAN Yingyi giving the lecture
Dean Qian started his lecture with a notion “to carry out a reform, one has to first treat reality as it is”. He interpreted the undergraduate education reform at SEM from two aspects: thinking and action.
In terms of “action”, Dean Qian said, “it is quite simple to criticize education, but extremely difficult to make any change in it; and it is even harder to make any positive progress.” But he believed that via hardworking and cooperation, small efforts combined could pave the way for big changes. He then introduced to the audience some of the key reform acts Tsinghua SEM had implemented in the past few years, which led to fruitful outcomes.
In the lecture
First, full professors should teach undergraduate classes. On the one hand, students could benefit from the teaching by professors; on the other hand, professors could also grasp a more accurate understanding on students’ problems as well as demands. Second, SEM launched the second degree program in economics open to non-SEM Tsinghua students, which had expanded the annual enrollment to about 300 this year. Third, since the major of Economic and Finance was initiated in 2007, it had attracted and enrolled many talented students.
Furthermore, SEM puts great effort in redesigning the undergraduate curriculum, with a new emphasis on general education. Courses such as "Western Civilization," "Chinese Civilization," "Introduction to Psychology," and "Critical Thinking and Moral Reasoning" have been added to the new curriculum to allow students have more access to general knowledge. In addition, apart from teaching and learning knowledge from the textbooks, SEM also aims to foster undergraduate students’ curiosity, imagination and ability in critical thinking. Last but not least, SEM has established three Honors Programs in academic, entrepreneurship and leadership respectively to offer more training and practice opportunities to selected students in their junior and senior years.
In the lecture
He believed that, undergraduate education should focus on the combination of general education and individual development. Both are indispensable and beneficial. He believed in an undergraduate educational system to provide general education to all students, not just training few “top talents”. Meanwhile, individual development is also important, for students have different interests and capabilities, which should be encouraged and treated with nuance.
"The objectives of the undergraduate education in