Memorandum by Mrs. Wilma C. Fairbank and Mr. Willys R. Peck of the Division of Cultural Relations33

Description of Dr. Cresset’s Duties in China

Dr. Cressey’s primary duties will be to visit Chinese universities when invited to do so, to give lectures and attend conferences. The lectures will include those on general intellectual developments in the United States and those of a professional character on Dr. Cressey’s special field, geology and geography. In his lectures and conversation[s] he will place emphasis on the value of academic freedom, intellectual integrity, and on the wide dissemination and application of knowledge. It is believed that this will stimulate the morale of educators and students. It will probably prove advantageous to [Page 752] visit educational centers for a week or two, rather than for a few days only.
Dr. Cressey will carry a letter from the American Academy of Sciences to the Academia Sinica, and he should establish close relations with the latter institution, one reason for this being that it will facilitate his receiving invitations to lecture, the arranging of travel permits, etc. At the same time, his relations with the Academia Sinica should not be so close as to place him in a position of partisanship in respect to any difference between the Academia Sinica and the Ministry of Education.
The objectives of the cultural relations program were discussed and it was recognized that Dr. Cressey’s relations in China would fall into two general categories, firstly, relations with the Ministry of Education and with other branches of the Chinese Government as the political agency of the country, and secondly, with educational and strictly cultural institutions. These relations should, when possible, be made to serve the object of strengthening a disposition toward democratic ways of thinking where it exists and of persuading toward such ways of thinking those agencies and individuals who may be thinking in another direction. It is hoped that the net result will be to strengthen the universities and professors who believe in those educational and international ideals in which we, as Americans, also believe.
Since the cultural relations program is a program of service to China as a whole, the smaller and more isolated institutions, which have few foreign contacts, should be assisted as well as the leading schools. The preparation of an itinerary must await Dr. Cressey’s arrival at Chungking, but it may include travel as far east as Fukien or northwest to Sinkiang.
As a by-product of Dr. Cressey’s work, he should prepare a critical evaluation of all Chinese universities in terms of faculty, equipment, students, and needs; and likewise of scholars in several fields, especially geology and geography.
Since the cultural relations program involves reciprocity, one of its objectives is to strengthen American scholarship in respect to the Orient. While Dr. Cressey does not plan to engage in field work in his own profession of geography and geology, he will nevertheless give his attention to this field as opportunity offers, but only to the extent that it does not result in interference with the cultural relations program in general.
The geographic and geologic interests of Dr. Cressey have led him to study post-war economic planning for China and to a consideration of the larger questions of geostrategy, sometimes called geopolitics, in Asia, which have resulted in his forthcoming book and in official studies made for the Office of the Geographer of the Department [Page 753] of State. These studies deal with the distribution of people, land, agriculture, minerals, and topography as they relate to plans for communications, industry, and national welfare. His familiarity with Soviet developments has point here.
Since these questions have political implications, it is expected that Dr. Cressey, in studying them and lecturing about them on appropriate occasions will use great tact and will discuss his plans with the American Embassy in advance. His status as a Visiting Professor with respect to public statements is somewhat intermediate between that of a University Professor with full academic freedom and a Foreign Service Officer.
Dr. Cressey will be away from Chungking for lengthy periods and it will, therefore, be impossible for him to perform many administrative duties. Nevertheless, it is requested that he constantly bear in mind the present and prospective cultural relations program with China and India and that he give his advice to the Division of Cultural Relations in regard to the program; points in which his opinion and advice would be useful would include the effectiveness of microfilm, exchange of students and faculty members, the needs of universities, etc.
  1. Drawn up at a conference held on September 28; in addition to Mrs. Fairbank and Mr. Peck the following, also of the Division of Cultural Relations, were participants: Ralph E. Turner, Paul Meyer, William H. Dennis, and George B. Cressey. Copy of memorandum was transmitted to the Ambassador in China with instruction No. 450, November 17, not printed. In its instruction, the Department requested the cooperation of the Embassy in China with Professor Cressey.