University During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1973 (Worksheet)

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a decade-long period of political and social chaos caused by Mao Zedong’s bid to use the Chinese masses to reassert his control over the Communist party.
The Cultural Revolution: all you need to know about China's political convulsion, The Guardian

During the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao sought to impose his doctrines, known as "Mao Zedong Thought," on all aspects of Chinese society. The excerpt found on the top right sidebar gives a description of how university structure and culture had changed by 1973.

The text is from "After the Cultural Revolution" written by Paul E. Sigmund in January 1973 for WORLDVIEW Magazine. The title of this article is somewhat deceiving, as historians place the Cultural Revolution from 1966 until Mao's death in 1976. However, Mao declared that it was officially finished in 1969, and the author was operating under this notion.

Sigmund was a professor of politics at Princeton. He accompanied a delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives to China. At the time, foreign visitors were carefully controlled and were not allowed to wander around freely. They saw what the government wanted them to see. Nevertheless, this account gives a fascinating picture of universities in China in 1973.

WORLDVIEW Magazine ran from 1958-85 and featured articles by political philosophers, scholars, churchmen, statesmen, and writers from across the political spectrum. The attached excerpt has been modified for the classroom.


1. How would a restructuring of the university system as described in the excerpt create a society that would become more devoted to Maoist principles? Do you think this is an effective method? Explain.

2. How could the restructuring of the university system have hurt the Chinese economy? Explain.

3. How does the described government control of the university system make China totalitarian?

This activity works well in a global history, world history, or comparative government class.