Confucianism and its Transformative Power in a Human-centered Era

Confucianism is one of the most influential learning philosophies of East Asian countries. It is concerned with inner virtue, morality, and respect for the community and its values. Many scholars have studied and categorized Confucianism as a system of social and ethical philosophy, but seldom has it been studied as a school of thought to elicit transformative learning or transformation. In the light of Mezirow’s definition of transformative learning, this research paper explores how Confucianism encourages learners to take reflection as a basic approach to continuously developing themselves towards a genuine and decent person or “jun zi” in Chinese. Meanwhile, this article further explores how Neo-Confucianism echoes John Dirkx’s definition of transformative learning, especially how the mind and intuition are used to deepen and widen one’s frames of references of the external world and the inner self. Inspired by prior research, this research project aims to find overlapping viewpoints and thoughts between contemporary transformative learning theory and Confucianism and ends with major critiques on Confucianism from transformative learning perspectives.

Format: Paper Presentation


Ruohao Chen, Teachers College, Columbia University
Session Date & Time: Sat, 09 Apr 2022 | 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM EDT