George Guo Talks About Book, Teaching
It is currently the top title from Cambridge University Press in the category of East Asian studies, and it was reviewed in the January/February issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.
“Guo has assembled the most detailed picture yet of China’s vast multiagency domestic security apparatus, neglecting only the increasingly important Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which handles corruption investigations against senior figures in the Chinese Communist Party,” according to the review.
George talked about the topics he explores in his book.
“The book is a comprehensive investigation of Chinese security and intelligence services, and how those organizations affect Chinese politics,” he said. “My approach, my method, is from archive research. I went into the primary sources, the archives published in the last 20 years — most of them have never been used.
“More importantly, I review conventional wisdom in talking about Chinese politics. In political science, we always try to build models as research tools to help political scientists in their search for rules that govern behavior. For most of those models, this research is asking us to re-evaluate those models, based on the primary archive research.”
He commented that when he began his research, he was dissatisfied with the current models used to analyze Chinese politics.
“When I went into this field, I found that some models were flawed in interpreting Chinese politics. I wanted to find something else — more evidence and better models to explain Chinese politics.”
George didn’t do all of the work by himself, however. Lauren Reed ’06 served as a research assistant, an experience that helped her in applying to graduate school.
“I formally hired her as my research assistant for that book. … She immediately got offers,” said Guo. “She got an offer from Tufts and several schools, but she finally went to UC San Diego, because UCSD offered an attractive package of financial aid at the amount of $20,000 per year. UCSD offered this because she has significant research skills.
“UCSD also offered her a research position at the IGCC (University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation) for the Study on Technology and Innovation in China, where she had opportunities to work with some of the most prestigious scholars.”
George remarked that he “never stops” when it comes to doing research and trying to contribute to academia.
“My next book project talks about how Chinese central organization affects Chinese politics. This is my next book. I already have four chapters. … I just want to make a small contribution if I can. I understand I have a limited influence, but anyone can make a little contribution.”
George brought it all back to the joy of teaching and watching students grow.
“Research keeps you fresh; research keeps you knowledgeable; research keeps you engaged with scholarship; research helps you to teach students research. That’s my direction for a Guilford education. We’re not technicians that teach a ‘how-to.’ We also teach knowledge, so our students can make a great contribution to our world and to our society.
“You want a student better than you.”
Story by David Pferdekamper ’12.