Message from the Dean

I like Mr Fei Xiaotong's metaphor about the happy bike. He likens science and democracy to the two wheels of the bike, and the ideal to a tripod. For modern society, science, democracy and ideal are indispensable. I would like to make some deductions. The happy bike is for people to ride, and the human being is the main body of society. Therefore, without people with morality and knowledge, even the best system will be in vain. Between human being and society, education plays a connecting role. Education, like the seat of the bike, is also indispensable. Education can cultivate people with ideals and beliefs, which can then spread scientific knowledge and make innovations. Well-educated people can promote democracy, defend democratic systems, and enhance the social development of freedom and equality.

The predecessor of Peking University — Imperial University of Peking — is the first comprehensive national university in China. Since its inception, Peking University has been the combination of Chinese knowledge and western learning, as well as the fusion of various theories and ideas. Peking University gave birth to scientific and democratic ideas, making it the birthplace of the May Fourth Movement and the New Cultural Movement. China has since embarked on a modern voyage marked by science and democracy. The department of education has a history of over a century, and it has always been its mission to pursue academic excellence and cultivate first-class talents.

Education is the oldest cause of mankind, accompanied by human development. Everyone in our life will both receive education and be an educator. Education is life, which means it has extensive participation so that everyone can comment on whether it is successful or not. It is precisely because of the universality of educational activities that makes education discipline open and accessible. This is the first characteristic of the education discipline. Secondly, education serves both individuals and society. It has connections with multiple social aspects, which naturally determines its multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary characteristics. Therefore, education integrates with many other disciplines, and education practitioners have the most diversified academic backgrounds. Complexity is the third characteristic of the education discipline. Here is a story. In the early 1980s, Mr Wang Yongquan, a rebuilder of the Education Department at Peking University, turned from the field of physics to higher education, though he had attained some achievements in the field of physics. When he just entered the field of higher education, he thought it was relatively easy, showing the science's "pride and prejudice" to education. Later, the more he studied, the more esoteric he felt, and he was therefore in awe. In his view, education is neither entirely a humanities discipline nor a social science discipline in the modern discipline system; instead, it should be viewed as a discipline on human. Similarly, the Honorary Dean of Graduate School of Education at Peking University, Mr Min Weifang, proceeded from the perspective of general education and focused on the effect of education on economy, politics, society and culture.

The above characteristics of the education subject determine that it is open to scholars from all other disciplines, especially promising young scholars. Education originates from practice, serves practice, and striving for the unity of theory and practice. The development of education and education discipline will help human beings cycle happily to the vast world and distant future.

Yan Fengqiao

Dean of Graduate School of Education, Peking University