Webinar “History of Foreign Influences on Education & Science in China”

5 July 2023, Trier, Germany

China Institute of the University of Trier (CIUT)

Dirk Kuhlmann (with a contribution from Hu Baozhu):
Lecture “Mediating between Cultures: Influence of German Divine Word Missionaries’ Educational Activities on China, 1882–1950”


This lecture introduced the educational activities of two congregations of the Arnoldus Family, i.e., the Divine Word Missionaries (S.V.D.) and the Holy Spirit Sisters (S.Sp.S.), in China. The first part treated the pivotal importance of publication and educational activities for the missionary work of the Arnoldus family. Between 1882 to 1903 the S.V.D. founded four print shops in Shandong through which the S.V.D. missionaries published school books with a noticeable focus on language training, in particular in German and Chinese, as well as some in Latin. Beyond that books on religious education or catholic formation for readers of different ages, such as catechisms, were published in various editions in Shandong. While some S.V.D. members became rather prolific authors, most sisters of the S.Sp.S. were active as teachers.
The aims of S.V.D. educational activities in China were twofold: On one hand, they focused on teaching Chinese and making newly arrived S.V.D. and S.Sp.S. missionaries proficient enough to communicate with the people they would encounter, understand them in everyday life, and eventually bring the Christian message to them. These materials were mainly based on the Shandong dialect. German language education among other purposes served to facilitate Chinese–German interactions in the German colony in Qingdao which was close to the heartland of the SVD mission in Yanzhou. In summary, the S.V.D. publications were practical works that stressed the development of everyday communication skills in a rather short time.

A recording of the lecture can be found here.