Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Fudan University is putting out the welcome mat for its students and for non-students as well. In a recent publication of the university, they’ve published a user-friendly map showing the locations of buildings on campus and, more importantly, information about what goes on inside those buildings.

Students and non-students can look at the map and find out about the courses that are being taught along with a brief description of each course, including the room number and time of each lecture. Unusually, for a university, Fudan is encouraging students in other departments to drop in and listen to lectures outside of their major. And they’ve extended that invitation to non-students like you and me and your second uncle. It’s all for the purpose of making the university a more open place.

Universities are Western inventions and they have always been elitist institutions. Beginning with the first university, the University of Bologna (Italy) in 1088, and continuing into the first half of the twentieth century, universities were a closed community of scholars. They were pure and noble institutions that pursued knowledge and were largely unconcerned with the world around them. Isolated in their “ivory tower” of learning, they kept their distance.

Chinese universities followed this model when they began to be established around 1900. With the abolishing of the imperial examination system, universities such as Tianjin, Peking and Fudan became mini Oxfords and Harvards and began attracting China’s brightest minds to do research and to teach. But they were still elitist institutions—“Ivory Pagodas,” if you will.

In most countries, universities have tried to erase their ivory tower image. They have websites offering virtual tours of the campus and information about academic and non-academic activities. Some even offer webcasts of lectures. But none, so far as I know, are as open and welcoming as Fudan is trying to be.

So, if you have some free time, why not drop in to Fudan and take in a few lectures. The welcome mat is there. You can even bring your second uncle.

what information does the map have?
A room number
B time 
C teachers 
D all of above






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