Teaching, Tenure, and Collegiality

Confucian Relationality in an Age of Measurable Outcomes

By Mary K. Chang

Subjects: Confucianism, Asian Studies, Higher Education, Philosophy Of Education, Comparative Education
Series: SUNY series in Asian Studies Development
Hardcover : 9781438487458, 252 pages, February 2022
Paperback : 9781438487465, 252 pages, August 2022

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Table of contents


Value of Cohering Faculty Roles
Marketizing Higher Education
Normalization of Individualization Separates
Distinguishing Confucian Relationality
Attending to Processes
Linking Time and Space
Juxtaposition as a Way to Enrich Relation

Part I: A Dynamic Confucian Tradition

1. The Exam Is Not the Text
Emphasizing a Commentarial Tradition
Taking an Interpretive Approach
A Complicated Conflation
Toward Agential Reading

2. A Familial Way Forward
Parents and Children
A Process Orientation Harmonizes
Framing People as Events
Personal Cultivation Emerges Through Relationship

Part II: Universities: Toward Sharing Responsibility

3. The Tenure Expectations Paradox
Product Paradigm Stresses Efficiency
Abstraction Decontextualizes
What About Teaching?
Addressing the Paradox
Engage the Core Values

4. Foregrounding Collegiality
More Than a Method
Generating Collaborative Space
Taking Experiences Seriously
Beyond Measurable Outcomes
Developing Inner Circles

5. Responsive Pedagogy
Unlearning Positions of Privilege
From Personal Cultivation to Critique
All About Relation: Juxtaposition With Feminist Perspectives

Embracing the Complexity of Learning: Some Implications
How Will You Respond?

Appendix A: University of Hawai'i Strategic Directions, 2015–2021

Appendix B: Criteria and Guidelines for Faculty Tenure/Promotion


Questions universities’ increasing reliance on market-oriented metrics to determine their strategic directions and gauge faculty productivity.


Teaching, Tenure, and Collegiality espouses the concept of relationality—the idea that people’s activities necessarily emerge through contextual engagement with others—as an alternative to the "publish or perish" ethos in higher education. Building on research by comparative philosophers, Mary K. Chang constructs a concept of Confucian relationality and engages it to question universities’ increasing reliance on market-oriented metrics to determine their strategic directions and gauge faculty productivity. Using a process-oriented approach that features change, the embodied connectedness of people, and the extensive impact of personal cultivation, Chang situates higher educational institutions as continually constructed by people's actions in ways that cannot be wholly described or quantified—and need not be. Values are powerful in educational contexts because they direct how administrators, faculty, and students focus limited energy. Teaching, Tenure, and Collegiality reevaluates what universities normatively value and offers a holistically expansive view that positions faculty as experts and learners whose activity is inseparable from the contexts constructed by the relationships from which they emerge.

Mary K. Chang is an independent scholar, with a PhD in Educational Foundations from the University of Hawai'i. She is coeditor (with Teresa Vilardi) of Writing-Based Teaching: Essential Practices and Enduring Questions, also published by SUNY Press.


“By applying the concept of Confucian relationality, Chang offers a new way to look at how higher education is structured as well as evaluated. Faculty will find the sections on tenure and collegiality especially helpful.” — A. G. Rud, coauthor of The Philosophy of Chinese Moral Education: A History