Intended Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA)


Jim Scheibel


Harry Boyte

Committee Member

Peter Levine


This dissertation reconfigures Chinese democracy and the purpose of higher education through a conversation of its tradition, culture, and modern challenges in the context of civic studies, a new academic discipline focusing on civic renewal and citizens’ role as co-creators for a better society. Through analyzing the affinities between the Confucian tradition, Dewey’s communitarian form of democracy, the Chinese socialist tradition and public work, this dissertation explores the civic foundation for constructing Chinese democracy as collective agency. Recasting the "China Dream” as a collective work, it highlights important possibilities of developing civic professionals as the transformative force in modern China and the urgency for restoring the democratic role of higher education. Using a case study of the Experiential English reform at the International School of Business, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, this dissertation examines feasibility of creating free spaces as experiments of new democratic thinking and practices in a centralized education system.