Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Studies congress recommends funding global research on the nation

Staff writer, with CNA

The government should consider launching a foundation to help create Taiwan Studies faculty positions at universities abroad to institutionalize the field, academics said at the World Congress of Taiwan Studies in Taipei on Friday.

The suggestion was made in the Manifesto for the Further Development and Entrenchment of Taiwan Studies Within Global Academia presented at the congress, which started on Thursday and ended yesterday at Academia Sinica.

“We appeal to the Taiwan government to seriously consider this manifesto and make good use of the window of opportunity that the recent development of Taiwan studies outside Taiwan offers,” read the statement, which was signed by 21 academics from mostly European countries, including Germany, the UK and France.

Over the past 15 years, the study of Taiwan within global academia has developed remarkably fast, the manifesto said, adding that major challenges need to be overcome to make the field institutionally sustainable.

Major obstacles that they identified include a lack of teaching jobs in the field and insufficient long-term funding for academics who teach about or research Taiwan.

Universities are reluctant to create positions in the field, so research on Taiwan is shouldered by academics who have been hired as China or Asia scholars, the manifesto said.

This makes it difficult for young Taiwan studies experts to find a tenured position, it said.

South Korea can serve as a model for Taiwan, said Gunter Schubert, one of the manifesto’s initiators, adding that Western universities have created more Korean Studies positions and more students have taken up the subject since the Korea Foundation was established in 1991.

“We know the Taiwan government is extremely important as a source for promoting Taiwan Studies worldwide,” Schubert told the congress. “We all to some extent rely on Taiwan.”

The question is whether these resources have been pooled effectively to help the creation of positions for Taiwan academics, Schubert said, who heads the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan at the University of Tubingen in Germany.

A “Taiwan Foundation” would help international universities establish professorships, employ other faculty and appoint visiting professors, Schubert said.

While Taiwan funds student fellowships, lectures and conferences, unlike South Korea, it does not fund teaching positions abroad, he said.

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