Liping Bu

Dr. Liping Bu is Reid-Knox Professor and Chair of History Department. Her research interests include American international relations and cultural diplomacy, educational exchange and knowledge circulation, public health and nation-building. She teaches American foreign relations, 20th-century America and modern China and East Asia. She received her PhD in history and policy from Carnegie Mellon University after studies at Peking University and Smith College. She has published five books and dozens of peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters on a wide range of American international education and cultural relations, and public health and modern societies. Her recent book was titled Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015.

Professor Bu has received prestigious fellowships and grants, including NIH grant, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, Rockefeller Archive Center grant, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. At Alma College, she received Barlow Award and Posey Award for Faculty Excellence, and the Service Learning Award.

Professor Bu has been invited as keynote speaker at major international conferences, and as a visiting scholar at universities in Singapore, Britain and China. As scholar in residence at the National Library of Medicine, NIH, she created a higher education module on public health campaigns in China, and curated exhibits on China’s public health and society:

1) “Chinese public health posters”  

2) “Chinese Anti-Malaria Posters”

3) “Health for the People: Continuity and Change in Asian Medicine”

(4) ”Consumptive Disease”: Chinese Anti-Tuberculosis Posters, 1950-1980”

(5) ”Family Planning and Socioeconomic Development”


Reid-Knox Professor and Chair in American History



Educational Background

Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon University 

Smith College

Peking University


Professor of History

My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

modern America, US-China relations, international education, public health and modernization

My expertise:

Professor Liping Bu specializes in 20th century U.S. history and US-China relations. She has published extensively on American international education and cultural exchanges, and public health and modern nation-building. She has authored and edited several books and dozens of journal articles and book chapters. 

Signature course(s):

Cold-War America, Immigration and Ethnicity, US-China Relations, China spring term 2019. Take a tour online

Recent publications:


  • Liping Bu, Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015. Routledge, 2017
  • Liping Bu and Ka-che Yip, eds. Public Health and National Reconstruction in Post-War Asia: International Influences, Local Transformations. Routledge, 2015.
  • Liping Bu, Darwin Stapleton and Ka-che Yip, eds. Science, Public Health, and the State In Modern Asia.  London: Routledge.  2012.
  • Liping Bu. Making the World Like US: Education, Cultural Expansion, and the American Century.  Praeger.  2003.
  • Frank Ninkovich and Liping Bu, eds. The Cultural Turn: Essays in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations.  Chicago: Imprint Publications.  2001.


Book Chapters:

  • “Paul Monroe—the Legendary Leader” in North American Scholars of Comparative Education: Examining the Work and Influence of Notable 20th Century Comparativists (edited by Erwin Epstein), Oxford Studies in Comparative Education, Routledge, 2019.
  • “Education and International Cultural Understanding: The Elite American Approach, 1920-1937.” In Teaching America to the World and the World to America: Education and Foreign Relations since 1870 , edited by Richard Garlitz and Lisa Jarvinen, 111-134. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  • “Korean War Anti-Germ Warfare Posters.” In Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine, edited by Michael Sappol, 198-199. Blast Books, 2012.
  • “Chinese Anti-Tuberculosis Flyers,.” In Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine, edited by Michael Sappol, 166-167. Blast Books, 2012.
  • “Introduction: Interpreting Science and Public Health in Modern Asia,” In Science, Public Health and the State in Modern Asia , edited by Liping Bu, Darwin Stapleton and Ka-che Yip, 1-15. London: Routledge, 2012.
  • “Beijing First Health Station: Innovative Public Health Education and Influence on China’s Health Profession, .” In Science, Public Health and the State in Modern Asia, edited by Liping Bu, Darwin Stapleton and Ka-che Yip, 129-143. London: Routledge, 2012.

Recent presentations:

  • Mediating Between the Global and the Regional: Knowledge Production, Science, and Practices in Modern China,” Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 24-27, 2022.
  • “Anti-Epidemics: People’s Life and Social Development,” Renowned International Scholars Series on Epidemics and Society, Peking University (online), January 8, 2022. 
  • “The Global Health Vision of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Development of Health System in China,” Renowned International Scholars Series on Epidemics and Society, Peking University (online), December 18, 2021. 
  • “Public Health Mentalité and Modern Societal Development,” Zoom Presentation talk, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, June 4, 2021. 
  • “Public Health and Nation-Building” Zoom presentation talk, National Library of Medicine, Science, Technology and Medicine Working Group, Maryland, October 10, 2020.
  • “Post-WWII Reconstruction and National Health Systems in Asia,” presented at 15th ICHSEA (International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia), Jeonju, South Korea, August 19-23, 2019.
  • “European Experience, Chinese Application: Creating a National Health System of State Medicine, 1920s-1940s,” presented at the 11th International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS), Leiden, the Netherlands, July 16-19, 2019.
  • “What Would 20th Century American Leaders of Comparative Education Say about Education for Sustainability in the 21st Century?” Plenary Panel 2C, Annual Conference of Comparative and International Education Society April 14-18, 2019, San Francisco.
  • “Medicine and Society: Public Health and Visions of Modern China,” talk given at National Technology University, Singapore, October 15-19, 2018. (invited speaker)
  • “Sanitation, Public Health, and Social Control in Beijing, 1920s-1930s,” presented at the Biennial International Conference of Society for the Social History of Medicine, Liverpool, UK, July 11-14, 2018.
  • “The Body Medical and Social: Western Concepts and Chinese Interpretations in the early 20th Century,” presented at the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23-29, 2017.
  • “Understanding Human Body and Epidemic Disease: Western Concepts, Chinese Interpretations in Early 20th Century,” presented at the Conference “Bodies, Healing and Culture: A Social History of Medicine in East Asia,” University of San Francisco Center for Asia Pacific Studies, San Francisco, November 5-6, 2015.
  • “Pioneering Chinese Female Doctors of Western Medicine: Their International Education and Career Life,” presented at 14th International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia, EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Paris, July 6-10, 2015.
  • “Humanitarian Relief and Social Control: Statistical Collection and Analysis of Health Data in Beijing, 1920s-1930s,” International Center for Studies of Chinese Civilization, Fudan University, Shanghai, June 9-10, 2015
  •  “Western Medicine and Chinese Women Doctors: Pioneers in the Field,” presented at the Conference on Western Medicine in China, Beijing, June 22-24, 2013.
  •  “The Rockefeller Foundation’s Global Health Governance and Country Specific Practice in China,” presented at the Conference on Empire and Global Health Governance in Asia and the Pacific: History and Policy, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, Feb. 27-28, 2013.
  • “John B. Grant: Public Health and State Medicine,” presented at the China Medical Board-Sponsored Conference on Medical Transitions in 20th-Century China, Beijing, June 23-26, 2012.
  • “Visual Materials As Useful Research Sources.”  Association for Asian Studies and International Congress of Asian Studies Conference.  Honolulu, Hawaii.  March 30-April 4, 2011.
  •  “Cultural Exchange and International Relations: What’s Unique about the United States of America?.”  International Conference on Academic Exchange and International Relations.  Vienna, Austria.  November, 2010.
  •  “Educational Exchange and the Writing of International History.”  Annual Conference of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.  Madison, WI,.  June 24-26, 2010.
  •  “Anti-Malaria Campaigns and Socialist Reconstruction in China: 1950-1980.”  Annual Conference of the Association of Asian Studies.  Philadelphia.  March 25-28, 2010.
  •  “Fighting Malaria: Art, Politics, and Scientific Knowledge of Health in Socialist China.”  Southwest Conference on Asian Studies.  Austin, Texas.  October 15-17, 2009.

Recent grants:

  • Grant-in-Aid Award, Rockefeller Archive Center, New York, 2018-19.
  • Barlow Award in Faculty Excellence, Alma College, 2013.
  • Research Grant, Rockefeller Archive Center, New York, 2012.
  • Scholarly Works Publication Grant, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health,2009-2011.
  • Research Grant, Rockefeller Archive Center, 2006-2007.
  • Andrew Mellon Fellowship, Needham Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK, 2006.

Other recent accomplishments: