Catholic Universities on Chinese Soil: Precedents from Mainland China and the Prospects for Hong Kong

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This paper assesses "whole person education" in a Catholic university—Furen—in the 1930s and 1940s. While we often talk about ―whole person education‖ in contemporary settings, Chinese Catholic elite and foreign missionaries already devoted much effort in the pursuit of this area. Therefore, this paper investigates the very significant contribution of the Catholic Church to China‘s development, in founding Furen University (1925-1952) in Beijing. In doing so, it is hoped that this paper will throw light on the process of the establishment of a Catholic university in Hong Kong. First, this paper investigates Furen University with regard to its educational provision, curriculum design and contribution to society. Second, it highlights the prominent Christian intellectuals who worked with the foreign Catholic missionaries to provide higher education. Third, it discusses these intellectuals and missionaries individually; and fourth, it compares and contrasts their philosophical approaches to modernization and "whole person education." Fifth, this paper compares the development of a Catholic university on the mainland in the 1930s and 1940s and in Hong Kong in the present situation. In sum, this paper examines the mission and vision of Furen University in providing higher education for the youth of China. Furen University sought to cultivate a Chinese elite capable of contributing to China‘s modernization and upholding Catholic beliefs and values. Catholic educators provided Chinese students with all round education emphasizing whole person development. Therefore, this paper addresses the contemporary discussion of “whole person education” from a historical perspective. The history of Furen inspires more thinking about a Catholic university in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-92
Number of pages24
JournalHong Kong Journal of Catholic Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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