The Aesthetic University, the Market University, and the Battle for the Soul of Beida

Richard Hartnett, Haixia Wang


Beida reformers invoke the legacy of Cai Yuanpei’s cosmopolitan vision for making it a world-class university while erecting it on the principles of the “market university,” which are contradictory to Cai’s aesthetic ideals of universality, transcendence, and freedom of thought. This study compares the conceptual underpinnings of both models and proposes a pathway for resurrecting Cai’s foundational idea of the university and preserving the “Beida spirit.”

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Asian Culture and History   ISSN 1916-9655(Print)   ISSN 1916-9663 (Online)   Email:

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