Professor Wang shares life advice

Photo courtesy of Professor Fei-Ling Wang

Although all of Tech’s professors can boast impressive credentials, International Affairs Professor Fei-Ling Wang can claim to have taught at the prestigious West Point Academy in New York. The Academy’s motto is simply, “Duty, Honor, Country,” and they accept only the most qualified candidates.

Students must be nominated for admission by their representative in Congress, one of their US Senators or the vice president.

On his time spent teaching at West Point, Wang comments, “Those cadets are really some of the finest Americans, in many ways. And also in many ways, they remind me of Georgia Tech students. Hardworking, disciplined, and under tremendous pressure.”

Wang earned his Bachelors in History from Anhui Normal University. He received a Master of Law from Beijing Institute of International Relations and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Political Science. Wang specializes in comparative and international political economy and East Asia and China studies.

He has also taught more than twenty five different International Affairs classes, including Introduction to International Relations and Chinese Foreign Policy. He has published five books and over sixty book chapters, journal articles and other written pieces in four different languages. On his biggest accomplishment, Wang immediately turns his attention to his children and his students. As an afterthought, he mentions that he has published “a bit.”

Wang turned to teaching because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of students. He left West Point in 1993 due to the academy’s lack of a tenure system and has been a professor at Tech since 2005.

On the students here, he says, “I think the undergraduate students at Georgia Tech are truly of first-class quality, and I’m not just saying that.”

However, Wang points out that there is a fierce competition for grades, so much so that sometimes the goal of learning is lost.

“It’s not about teaching you one specific tool to make a buck, it’s more like why you do this, how to do this better.”

Wang argues for the relevance of International Affairs in light of the bigger picture: “It gives people the kind of training and skills and knowledge about how to be a creative person. It doesn’t matter what kind of specific job you choose to do. This gives us a kind of orientation, a background, about how to be a creative, happy, and fulfilled person and how to do the best for ourselves and for society at large.”

The one piece of advice Wang gives to students is to simply explore: “Explore as much as you can, explore as deeply as you can, and don’t necessarily worry about every grade.”

Wang grew up with a very different educational system in China. He elaborates that, “…the education I got over there was very structured and censored and my exploration was severely limited.” He urges students to take advantage of the resources on campus, including their professors.

Wang also wants students to enjoy more of their time. He vehemently objects to the current mindset of students to only focus on “…getting your passport stamped to get a good grade and get a job” and instead requests students keep in mind the true purpose of education: to become a well-rounded individual.

As for Georgia Tech students who applied to academies like West Point and didn’t get in, Wang confesses they shouldn’t feel too bad about it. He believes the education offered at Tech is more hospitable to independent thinking, academic pursuit and above all, exploration.