Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Philosophy and Religion

Document Type



Academic freedom is the ability to explore, research, and analyze any topic without prohibitions or repercussions. In the Anglo-American tradition, it is both a fundamental aspect of academia and, as this thesis argues, a fundamental human right. Although the United States embraces this core principle of academia within American universities, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) seeks to suppress the acquisition of knowledge through restrictions on topics deemed politically-sensitive to the Chinese government. Although human rights abuses pervade the PRC and academic freedom is suppressed, PRC-funded entities known as Confucius Institutes (CIs) are widely embraced at universities in liberal democracies. While CIs are entrusted with cultivating within non-Chinese youth an interest in Chinese culture and simplified Mandarin Chinese, they inherently jeopardize the mission of institutions of higher learning and violate standards of academic freedom. Many questions persist about Confucius Institutes and the Chinese government’s intent on their expansion. Are human rights abuses in the PRC prominent enough to negatively affect its cultural mission abroad? What exactly are Confucius Institutes and why are they located at universities that value academic freedom? These questions require an examination and deciphering of the overall strategy and intentions of the PRC to assert global influence through overseas educational programming. Finally, Western Kentucky University is used as a case study to demonstrate the negative impact of having a CI operate at an institution of higher learning.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Patricia Minter


Chinese Studies | Higher Education | Human Rights Law | International and Comparative Education