Past Event

The Core and its Modern Significance in a Global Context

August 4, 2019
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Columbia Global Centers | Beijing, No. 26, 1F Core Plaza, 1 Shanyuan Street, Zhongguancun, Haidian District, Beijing

In 1919, amid the confusion and chaos that followed the end of World War I, Contemporary Civilization, a central component in Columbia University’s Core Curriculum, was born.

This course aimed to discuss the central pillars of the Western philosophical canon. When the stability of the world appeared to be at stake, the professors at Columbia took their students to explore the history of philosophical, social, and political thoughts, contemplate upon the various value systems that served as the basis of human communities, and think about our individual worth in the world. Education is a way to come to terms with disorder.

In 2019, the Core of Columbia has developed to incorporate six mandatory courses: Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, University Writing, Art Humanities, Music Humanities, and Frontier of Science. From literature, philosophy to art history and music, the Core covers the main components of Western civilization.

Over 100 years, the student body of Columbia has grown to be more diverse, and the tides of globalization have brought the problems encountered by communities all over the world to converge.

As Chinese undergraduates, what is the point of studying Western classics, and can it help us to resolve the confusion we encounter as citizens of the world?

How do we confront the difficulties we find in the academic world, and how does the Core take us beyond the classroom to seek answers to the questions we find in books?

On August 4, Columbia Global Centers | Beijing invites you to the eleventh event of the Center's Education Panel Series. Six Columbia undergraduate students are invited to share their experiences with Columbia’s Core, and discuss how this one-hundred-year old curriculum seeks to address the problems of the present time.


Jiachen FENG

Jiachen recently earned a B.A. in philosophy from Columbia University. Her primary academic interests include political philosophy, social philosophy, and intellectual history. She studied modern political philosophy and the Counter-Enlightenment movement with Professor Mark Lilla, and has worked for NGOs and consulting firms in Hong Kong and the United States. During her time at Columbia, she was selected as a Core Scholar for her exemplary reflection on the Core Curriculum.


Yameng ZHANG

Yameng recently earned a B.A. in neuroscience from Columbia University, and will start her PhD program at the California Institute of Technology in the fall. Her research focuses on neural circuits and their correlated behavior, and her main research areas include fluid homeostasis and rewarding system which would demonstrate how brain and body cooperate to maintain mammalian internal environment's stability and satisfy biological drives. Other interests include brain machine interface, virtual and augmented reality, and Buddhism. She has also worked in Zuker Lab to explore the gene identify of neural pathways responsible for lipid tasting via in-situ hybridization.


Charlotte PU

Charlotte recently earned her B.A. in East Asian languages and cultures with departmental honors from Columbia University. She is interested in modern East Asian literature and cinema, media studies, and journalism. She has worked at Asia Society (New York) and the Beijing Bureau of the New York Times.



Juzhi recently earned a B.A. in history from Columbia University. His areas of interest range from the ancient Mediterranean world to modern Japan. He was named a John Jay Scholar upon entering Columbia, and was a recipient of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute Undergraduate Training Grant, under the help of which he researched the history of South China Sea and the American occupation of Japan. He has interned at King & Wood Mallesons in Beijing.


Alex YANG 

Alex is a rising senior at Columbia. His areas of specialization include continental philosophy, social philosophy, existentialism, and critical theory. He has completed independent research projects under the supervision of professors from the philosophy department at Columbia and the political science department at Peking University. Prior to moving to New York, he has studied and lived in London and Paris. He has co-organized and taught liberal arts seminars in Beijing for three consecutive years, and he serves as an instructor for the online education platform of Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.


Lengyi ZHANG

Lengyi is a rising junior at Columbia, and her primary academic interests are social philosophy and the history of philosophy. She is a long-term intern at GLCAC, the first Chinese NGO dedicated to supporting LGBT youth and countering campus bullying, through which she became involved in queer activism and sex education, developed an in-depth understanding of Chinese non-profits, and gained the ability to communicate with people from different background.


  • The event will be in Chinese.
  • Due to limited seats, registration will be verified through the QR code confirmation. Please present your QR code at the entrance. 
  • Please plan to arrive no earlier than the registration time and no later than 20 minutes after the end of registration period.
  • If you are unable to attend the event, please inform us in advance. 
  • If you have any questions, please email [email protected]