Religious Schools and the Education Reform in Early Twentieth-Century China: A Comparative Study of Three Religious Academies

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Chen, Bin
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 03, 2018
Committee Members:
  • David Giguette Atwill, Dissertation Advisor
  • David Giguette Atwill, Committee Chair
  • Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, Committee Member
  • Kate Merkel-Hess, Committee Member
  • Charlotte Diane Eubanks, Outside Member
  • Religious schools
  • Education reform
  • Republican China
  • Comparative study
This is a comparative study of the Christian Yates Academy, the Buddhist Wuchang Academy, and the Muslim Chengda Teachers’ Academy. All three were typical in that they successfully served local societies as modern secondary schools. The Chinese state issued numerous regulations regarding education and religion from the late nineteenth century onwards, but these regulations did not have a significant impact on the establishment and development of religious academies. As this study shows, all of the three academies were established by religious institutions mainly according to their understandings of the problems and demands of local Chinese societies rather than according to the state’s expectations of the modern religion. The Chinese state did not treat different religious academies equally. For Christian schools, the state issued relatively more regulations to curtail their influence. For Buddhist schools, the state showed more tolerance but did not offer much direct support. For Muslim schools, the state would provide financial assistance. However, as this dissertation reveals, ultimately, the success of the three academies depended on their relationships with local societies. This situation for religious academies only started to change after the establishment of the Nationalist regime in Nanjing.