Margaret Pearson grew up in Seattle Washington and moved east to attend Smith College, where she majored in history. In her first career search, she turned down an offer by IBM. For the next four years, she designed computer systems for a major insurance company in Manhattan. She also led the Manhattan branch of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship in its opposition to the Vietnam War.
During the next four years, she earned a Master’s Degree in East Asian Studies and passed her Ph.D. exams in History at the University of Washington in Seattle. During the next two years, she read Chinese language and philosophy at the Inter-University Center at National Taiwan University in Taipei. She returned to Seattle, where she began her dissertation on the Comments of a Recluse by Wang Fu (d. ca. 165).
She returned to computers and the insurance company she had left ten years earlier, and was fortunate enough to be in the first group of employees ever downsized by this firm. She then began teaching Chinese history to college students at the New School for Social Research, Pace University, and Marymount Manhattan College, while also working to place refugees with sponsor families. She began teaching Chinese History at Skidmore College in 1980. After teaching computer courses at Vassar College, she added these courses to her Skidmore responsibilities for several years. She is a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and a frequent researcher at the Needham Research Institute, also in Cambridge. She has directed the Asian Studies Program and chaired the History Department and the University Seminar on Traditional China at Columbia University.
For over twenty-five years, Professor Pearson taught all Chinese and Japanese history, from beginnings to the present. She now specializes in early Chinese intellectual history and the life lessons it continues to offer to the intelligent reader. She recently became the first woman scholar to complete a translation of the oldest Chinese classic, the Book of Changes (Zhouyi, Yijing, I ching). She uses her translation in her Scribner seminar introducing students to Chinese Wisdom, Living our Choices. (The book has been used to help its users make better decisions since around 1000 B.C.E. These attempts to anticipate the results of actions were the beginnings of Chinese historical records, which now detail events over nearly three thousand years.)
Professor Pearson enjoys listening to and assisting students in finding the helpers they need to make good decisions during and after their Skidmore careers, with or without the use of historical examples and the Book of Changes. She assumes that most current students will have at least two careers, and hopes that one will satisfy a dream and the other will pay bills efficiently. She believes that Skidmore provides opportunities to develop a wide range of interests, skills, and knowledge as one foundation of a life which will continue to become enriched and deepened throughout a lifetime of many changes.
Office: TLC 322