Igniting conversations: 2023 Outstanding Chinese Educators announced

December 10, 2023

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University has announced this year’s Outstanding Chinese Educators in the New Era as part of a campaign to promote and guide social discourse on the future of education and talent cultivation.

The seven professors, from a range of disciplines, were recognised at a forum held at XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) in which academics, researchers, and industry experts joined parents and students to discuss issues affecting basic, higher, and professional education.

Professor Youmin Xi, Executive President of XJTLU, initiated the Outstanding Chinese Educators in the New Era campaign two years ago. It aims to ignite conversation, action, and cooperation that can put education on a healthy development track, to better prepare students and society for the challenges ahead.

Professor Youmin Xi, Executive President of XJTLU

“Today’s education has fallen behind developments in this era,” Professor Xi said at the forum, citing the disruption brought by generative artificial intelligence technology, such as ChatGPT. “Only through comprehensive exploration and discussion can education escape this tough reality, keep pace with changes, and allow us to redefine teaching and learning.”

After considering more than 50 nominees, the campaign’s expert committee this year recognised Professor Pingyuan Chen, Chair Professor of Liberal Arts at Peking University; Professor Daguang Wu, Distinguished Professor at Xiamen University’s Education Research Institute; Professor Enhong Feng, President of Xi’an Dongcheng No. 2 School; Professor Xuehua Qiu, Dean of Changzhou University’s Institute of Experimental Education Sciences; Professor Zhihong Li, Executive Director of the Quality Assurance and Evaluation Expert Steering Committee of the Chinese Vocational Education Association.

From left: Professors Zhaohui Chu, Yanlin Mu, Xianliang Sun, Enhong Feng, Xuehua Qiu, Youmin Xi, Zhihong Li, Pingyuan Chen, Dayuan Jiang, Deguang Yang, Daguang Wu, Yong’an Cao, and Shanxue Sun

At the forum, the five educators joined two nominees – Professor Xianliang Sun, President of the Haier School, and Professor Shanxue Sun from Beijing Foreign Studies University’s School of International Education – in sharing their diverse perspectives on the future of Chinese education.

“Discussing the future of humanity requires an open mind,” says Professor Chen. “Compared with other areas of society, universities offer a unique opportunity for their ability to accommodate a variety of voices, cultures, and stances. Here we discuss and even argue, but ultimately the goal is to find a better way forward.”

The finale of the 2023 Finding Outstanding Chinese Educators in the New Era campaign held at XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang)

This year also saw more XJTLU students participate in the discussion. Weiwei Xing, a Year Three undergraduate in media and communication, says that based on his experience at XJTLU, having a “global perspective” is more than simply “understanding foreign things” but rather the ability to gain an organic understanding of different ways of thinking and knowledge systems, focusing on connections and interactions among societies and economies.

“It’s impossible to rely on the local environment to cultivate a global perspective, and that’s where an ‘educational ecosystem’ like the one at XJTLU comes in. For me, this provides students with more diverse development opportunities on top of the functions of an ordinary university,” he adds.

This year, the campaign ignited conversations on issues receiving widespread attention from media and from tens of millions of people on platforms including NetEase, Xinhua’s Live Cloud, Sina News, Toutiao, and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

By Bo Kou, Xiaoyan Jin and Xiaotong Zhang

Translated by Xiangyin Han

Edited by Patricia Pieterse

December 10, 2023