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