Dancing with Dragons: Higher Education, China and the Geopolitics of Global Science
China’s push to become a leading science power is unprecedented in its speed, scope and, arguably, success. Reactions to China’s rise in global science are dichotomous: some anticipate that science made in China may come to dominate global academia while others deem it impossible to achieve scientific leadership under an authoritarian regime. A focus on rankings and statistics alone is apparently not enough to grasp the origins, characteristics, and the possible futures of China as a science superpower.
This monthly lecture series will bring together fresh empirical insights and intriguing theoretical reflections about the development of the science system in the People’s Republic of China and its global integration. Representing a variety of social science perspectives, our guest speakers will explore the evolution of Chinese science policy, interactions of societal norms and values and academia in the PRC, factors that enable or constrain scientific innovation, the global reception of scientific output and investment from China, the securitization of international collaboration, and much more.
An evaluation of international scientific research partnerships that include China and leading research economies shows that China plays a critical role in global science, by some measures rivaling or even surpassing the United States both in the volume of scientific papers produced and the quality of the work as measured by citations.This trend of China’s scientific advancement has collided with hardening geopolitics that have caused some countries to re-think scientific collaboration with China. However, China’s central role in global science means that it occupies a vastly different space from Russia, which was recently excluded from much of global science because of its invasion of Ukraine. These trends have coincided with, according to survey data, scientists of Chinese descent at American universities experiencing greater discrimination and increased fear regarding their academic pursuits. Dan Murphy’s work explores what this means for higher education engagement with China. He argues for a rational approach that recognizes both the tremendous value of international academic collaboration and the need for firm boundaries around areas critical to national security.