Ideas, Debates, and More: Meeting of European and Asian Higher Education Researchers Series

Rethinking University-society Relations – Comparing Western and Non-Western Experience

Co-organizers: Social Contexts and Policies of Education (Academic Unit) (SCAPE), Consortium for Higher Education Research in Asia (CHERA), Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)
The lecture is based on an ongoing book project on Rethinking Universities-Society Relations co-authored by Rómulo Pinheiro and Yuzhuo Cai. In the lecture, Yuzhuo Cai will provide an overview of the evolution of university models from the perspective of university-society relations with an emphasis on comparing the experience in Western and non-Western countries. The university-society relations are examined via the lens of universities’ roles in society (i.e., universities as mirrors, servants and shapers of society). Moreover, he will share some critical reflections on comparative education based on his research related to the book project.
Chair: Dr Jisun Jung, HKU
Speakers: Dr Yuzhuo Cai, Tampere University
Date: March 29, 2023 (Wednesday)
Time: 16:00-17:15 (HKT)
Format: In-person (Rm 206, Runme Shaw Building, The University of Hong Kong) or Online (zoom link will be sent closer to the date)


CHERA-CERC joint book launch


Higher Education, State and Society: Comparing the Chinese and Anglo-American Approaches (by Lili Yang, Bloomsbury, 2022)


Chair: Prof. Gerard A. Postiglione, The University of Hong Kong

Speaker: Dr. Lili Yang, The University of Hong Kong


Date: April 25, 2023 (Thursday)

Time: 16:00-17:30

Hong Kong Time by Zoom




Higher education plays numerous social and public functions. This is realized through the interactions between higher education and various spheres of social action including the individual, society, state, and world. However, there has long been a lack of clarity about what the public good of higher education means in each single tradition, and the lack of clarity is compounded at world level by the very different understandings between the traditions. This affects cooperation and common action.


In this monograph, Lili Yang compares core ideas about the state, society, and higher education in two important world traditions – the Chinese and Anglo-American traditions. She explores the broad cultural and philosophical ideas underlying the public good of higher education in the two traditions, reveals their different social imaginaries, and works through five areas where higher education intersects with the individual, society, the state, and the world, intersections understood in contrasting ways in each tradition. The five key themes are: individual student development in higher education, equity in higher education, academic freedom and university autonomy, the resources and outcomes of higher education, and cross-border higher education activities and higher education’s global outcomes. In exploring the similarities, Yang highlights important meeting points between the two world views, with the potential to contribute to the mutual understanding and cooperation across cultures.