Past Event

"An ant who shakes the tree (蝼蚁撼大树):personal experiences in education reform in China"

October 28, 2019
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
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Weatherhead East Asian Institute Event

Please join us for a lecture with:

Chenjian (C.J.) Li, University Chair Professor

Peking University

Moderated by:

Andrew Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science

Columbia University

Event summary: Education reform is one of the most important and difficult tasks in all nations, especially in today’s China.  In additional to the intrinsic challenges of education per se, the process is highly complicated by factors such as culture,  politics, economic development imbalance, etc. This discussion starts with a personal Quixotic adventure to push for reform at Peking University and high schools in China in the past few years. A relentless effort was made to cultivate next generation of leaders who have deep understanding of science and humanity, critical and innovative thinking,  global citizen perspective, courage and perseverance in character— to “fight the world’s fight”. Prof. Chenjan Li will discuss the successes and failures in real cases, and explore the logic behind.


Dr. Chenjian Li is currently the University Chair Professor, Peking University. Dr. Li attended Peking University for his undergraduate education, and Peking Union Medical College for training in medicine. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Purdue University, USA; postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University. Dr. Li was an assistant professor and associate professor at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and then Alex and Shirley Aidekman Endowed Chair Professor of Neurology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine of NYU. Dr. Li embarked on a new journey to Peking University in 2013. Between 2013 and 2019, he completed his tenure as the Vice Provost of Peking University, Executive Dean of Yuanpei College, and Professor and Associate Dean of School of Life Sciences. Dr. Li’s scientific research focuses on exploring the molecular and cellular basis of higher brain functions, the mechanisms of neurological diseases and cancer therapy. His laboratory pioneered methods of generating transgenic animal models for these studies. For his leading role in this line of research, Dr. Li received C.H. Lee Scholar Award and National Service Award (USA). After he moved to Peking University, Dr. Li continued to serve as a standing member of the National Institute of Health Study Section for Neurological Diseases (CDIN), USA until 2017. Dr. Li is also devoted to education development and reforms, ranging from high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical student education. For his excellent teaching, he received a student voted “Best Teacher Award” in 2015 at PKU, world-wide Chinese Biological Investigator Society “Outstanding Teacher Award” in 2016, and faculty-voted “Zheng Changxue Award” and “Excellence in Teaching” in 2019 at PKU. Dr. Li studied literature, history and bio-medicine. He remains an active writer. His translation of “What do you care what other people think?” (Richard P. Feynman), published by the Chinese Social Science Publisher in 1999, won a Chinese National Book Award in 2000.

This is a Weatherhead East Asian Lecture and Panels event.