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April 9, 2004

Susan Shirk ’67 to Speak on North Korea

Susan Shirk ’67

Susan Shirk ‘67, a leading expert on East Asian affairs, will give a lecture at Mount Holyoke April 15 about the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Shirk has a lifetime of scholarly and hands-on experience in East Asia. Her first foray was a trip to Japan in high school with the Experiment in International Living. She continued her study of East Asia in college, spending her junior year in the prestigious Critical Languages Program at Princeton where she immersed herself in Chinese language and studies. (Her time at Princeton predated the admission of women students, and she wryly refers to her year there as “my junior year as a broad.”) It was at the Princeton program that she took a serious interest in China, and after finishing a master’s degree in Asian studies at the University of California at Berkeley, she earned a Ph.D. in political science at MIT.

Shirk happened to be doing doctoral research in Hong Kong in 1971 when cultural exchange between China and the United States unexpectedly opened. Following on the heels of the U.S. Ping-Pong team, Shirk was a member of one of the first groups of American students invited into China. According to Shirk, the high point of her visit—perhaps even of her life—was a four-hour interview with Premier Zhou Enlai, whom she so impressed that he announced to the group that he wished she were president of the United States instead of Richard Nixon.

Shirk took a break from teaching at the University of California at San Diego from 1997 to 2000 to serve as deputy assistant secretary of state with responsibility for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mongolia. She returned to San Diego as a professor at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. She also serves as research director at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California.

Shirk’s talk, “The United States, China, and the North Korean Nuclear Crisis,” will take place in Gamble Auditorium at 7:30 pm and is open to the public. e

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