Rethinking global common goods in higher education through the Chinese concept of tianxia weigong

Lili Yang, CGHE
Lin Tian, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Higher education produces a wide range of public/common goods, many of which transcend national borders such as knowledge and international mobility of talent. However, the current dominant interpretations of global public/common goods are based on the Anglo-American dualistic worldview of I and non-I. This worldview assumes a zero-sum relationship and continuous conflict between I and non-I. Correspondingly, the world is understood as subsumed under self-interested nation-states, also known as ‘methodological nationalism’. This approach to global public/common goods has led to numerous problems, manifested in, for example, the exacerbating international conflicts, longstanding inequality gaps, and persisting under-provision of certain global collective goods in higher education. Against this backdrop, this webinar will claim that addressing the problems can benefit from discussing the Chinese idea of tianxia weigong (all under heaven is for all/belongs to all) that is built on a Confucian anthropocosmic worldview – that the world is composed of a series of escalating entities (i.e., the self, family, society, state, and tianxia) and there is ‘no other’ in this worldview. This tianxia weigong approach suggests the concept of global collective goods, and sheds light on what global collective goods higher education produces and how to adjust the organisation of higher education to sustain its production of global collective goods.