Mingyuan Gu (1929 - )

Gu, Mingyuan

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Gu Mingyuan is one of China's most influential and prolific scholars in the field of comparative education. Born in 1929 in Jiangyin, a small town located in close proximity to China's major cities, Gu benefited from the region's highly developed progressive education movement and centuries-old scholarly traditions. After two years of study in the education department of Beijing Normal University, Gu was selected for study in the Soviet Union from 1951-1956. After his return to China, he began a long and outstanding professional career in the field of education amidst the dramatic changes that China was undergoing, and became one of the most active promoters of comparative education after China's Open Door Policy in 1978.

During his fifty years of service and leadership at the Beijing Normal University (BNU), one of China's most prestigious and influential universities, Gu has exerted a profound influence on students and young teachers, offering support and encouragement to countless young scholars over the complex years of transition from a planned socialist system to a socialist market economy. His election in 2000 as President of the Chinese Society of Education (CSE) reflects the regard in which he is held nationwide as China's most prominent educational theorist. After his retirement from leadership positions at BNU in 1997, Gu continues to be extremely active as a scholar, researcher and teacher. He currently holds the positions of President Emeritus of the Chinese Comparative Education Society (CCES), Dean Emeritus of the College of Educational Administration and Senior Professor of the International and Comparative Education Research Institute of BNU.

Professor Gu Mingyuan is a key figure who has laid the foundations of comparative education in China. Firstly, he made an original and unique statement that the ultimate aim of comparative education in China is to promote education development and reform in the country. He strongly criticized comparative educationists in China who merely analyzed patterns in foreign countries and failed to draw out the implications at home. Secondly, Gu has played an important role as a foundation stone and pillar of the Chinese Comparative Education Society (CCES), which he established in 1979 and served as its President from 1983 to 2002. In 1965, he launched the journal Foreign Education Conditions (renamedComparative Education Review in 1992), published in Beijing Normal University in Chinese, which became the official society journal of the CCES in 1991. Gu has been its editor-in-chief since 1965. In the third place, Professor Gu has throughout his life been extraordinarily dedicated to forming new generations of comparative education scholars. He has supervised many masters and doctoral students, among whom are now leading professors in China's premier universities. During his fruitful academic career, his wide-ranging and influential publications on education in China and abroad have gained national and international recognition. Among them, he co-authored Comparative Education (1982), the first textbook on the field published in socialist China, together with Wang Chengxu and Zhu Bo. Also, over the period 1990 and 1992, he was chief editor of a 12-volume educational dictionary, which became an essential reference on educational reform policy.

Gu has increasingly exercised intellectual and scholarly leadership in Asian and international comparative education circles. Within the Asian sphere, he sought to foster mutual understanding and cooperation on experiences of education and modernization, as well as the formation of an Asian identity in comparative education. He actively supported the establishment of the Comparative Education Society of Asia in 1996. In the global arena, Gu Mingyuan served as a bridge between comparative education scholars in China and the rest of the world, first in his role as former Co-President of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES), and later as a catalyst in the organization of the Worldwide Forums on Comparative Education. In addition, his conferment of honorary and guest professorships in famous universities at home and abroad have reinforced the lasting mutual bonds that link China's educational traditions with the rest of the world. As Hayhoe (2006, p.291) concluded, "Gu Mingyuan has probably done more than any other Chinese educator to lay a foundation that will enable Chinese thinkers to articulate a global vision for education and culture"*.

Gu's journal editorships include:
Editor-in-chief, Frontiers of Education in China (Springer) [2006-]
Editor-in-chief, Journal of the Chinese Society of Education (CSE) [2001-]
Editor-in-chief, Comparative Education Review (CCES) [1965-]

* Hayhoe, Ruth (2006): 'Gu Mingyuan: Comparative Educator and Modernization Theorist'. Portraits of Influential Chinese Educators. Hong Kong & Dordrecht: Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong & Springer, pp.261-291.

Educational Background

Undergraduate, Department of Education, Beijing Normal University, China (studied 1949-1951)

BA, Department of Education (1956), National Lenin Teachers' College, Moscow, USSR (1956).

Honorary Doctorate of Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China (2001)

Professional Background

1956 to present: Beijing Normal University, PRC
2002 to date: Dean Emeritus of College of Educational Administration

1984-2002: Dean, College of Educational Administration; Director, Center for Training Educational Cadres in Northern China, National Educational Committee of PRC 1987-1997: Dean, Graduate School

1984-1991: Vice President

1979-1984: Department Head, Department of Education; Director, Institute of Foreign Education Research

1974-1979: Deputy Provost; Director, Social Science Division

1972-1974: Principal, the Second Affiliated Middle School of BNU

1965-1966: Vice Department Head, Department of Education; Vice Director, Institute of Foreign Education Research (renamed International and Comparative Education Research Institute in 1995)
1962-1965: Lecturer, Department of Education
1958-1962: Assistant Director of Educational Affairs Office, the Affiliated Middle School of BNU
1956-1958: Assistant, Department of Education

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Chinese Society of Education (CSE), President (2000-)

Chinese Comparative Education Society (CCES), President (1983-2002)

World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES), Co-President (1992-1996)

Selected Publications

Wang, Chengxu; Zhu, Bo & Gu, Mingyuan (1982). Comparative Education. Beijing: People's Education Press, 288 pp. Second edition 1985; Third edition 1999/2000 (296 pp.). [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (1989). Learning from the Development of World Education. Chengdu: Sichuan Education Publishing House, 233 pp [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (ed.) (1990/1991/1992). The Cyclopaedia of Education. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press, about 8 million words. Second edition, 1998(2390 pp.); Third edition, ongoing. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (1991). Education in the USSR after World War II. Nanchang: Jiangxi Education Publishing House, 595 pp. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (ed.) (1993). Education Supervision in Foreign Countries. Beijing: People's Education Press, 230 pp. Second edition, 2002 (215 pp.). [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (ed.) (1994). The Collected Edition of Chinese Education. Changchun: Jilin Education Press, about 22 million words. Second edition, 2002. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan, & Xue, Liyin (1996). Introduction to Comparative Education. Beijing: People's Education Press, 368 pp. Second edition,1998 (353 pp.). [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (ed.) (1998). National Cultural Traditions and Education Modernization. Beijing: BNU Press, 447 pp. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan, & Liang, Zhongyi (eds.) (2000). The Collected Edition of World Education. Changchun: Jilin Education Press, about 8 million words. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan, & Meng, Fanhua (eds.) (2001). New Trends in International Education. Haikou: Hainan Publishing House, 377 pp. Revised version, 2003-2004, Second edition, 2006. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (2001). Education in China and Abroad: Perspectives from a Lifetime in Comparative Education. Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong, 260 pp.

Gu, Mingyuan (2003). The Mission of Comparative Education in China in the Era of the Knowledge Economy, Policy Futures in Education, Vol.1, No.2, pp. 225-233.

Gu, Mingyuan (2004). Cultural Foundations of Chinese Education. Taiyuan: Shanxi Education Publishing House, 319 pp. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (2004). Education: Traditions and Innovations. Beijing: People's Education Press, 425 pp. [in Chinese]

Gu, Mingyuan (2006): An analysis of the impact of traditional Chinese culture on Chinese education, Frontiers of Education in China, Vol.1, No.2, pp.169-190.


Created: 7/22/2008

Updated: 7/22/2008

Contributed By: Li Minyi, The University of Hong Kong