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Government advised to promote Taiwan studies worldwide

2018/09/07 22:09:26

Gunter Schubert

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) A group of international Taiwan studies experts have urged the government to consider establishing a foundation to help create faculty positions for scholars in overseas universities to institutionalize the study of the subject worldwide.

The suggestion was made in the "Manifesto for the Further Development and Entrenchment of Taiwan Studies Within Global Academia," a statement presented at the third World Congress of Taiwan Studies being held in Taipei Sept. 6-8.

"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 co-signed by 21 scholars, mostly from countries in Europe, including Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

Over the last 15 years, the study of Taiwan within global academia has developed remarkably, the manifesto said, but there are major challenges that need to be dealt with to make Taiwan studies institutionally sustainable.

The major obstacles they identified include a lack of faculty positions for Taiwan studies scholars and long-term funding schemes for the scholars to teach or do research on Taiwan.

According to the manifesto, international universities are reluctant to create faculty positions for Taiwan studies scholars, and the study of the subject at the universities is shouldered by academics who have not been hired as experts on Taiwan but instead as China or Asia scholars.

"Young scholars, who currently ride the wave of Taiwan studies, probably will not find a tenured university position to teach and do research on Taiwan," it said.

What South Korea has achieved in terms of increases in the number of faculty positions created and students recruited for Korean studies in Western universities since the Korea Foundation was established in 1991 can serve as a model for Taiwan, Gunter Schubert, one of the initiators of the manifesto, said Friday at the congress.

"We know that the Taiwan government is extremely important as a source for promoting Taiwan studies worldwide," Schubert said. “We all to some extent rely on Taiwan."

The question is whether these resources have been pooled effectively to help the establishment of faculty positions for Taiwan studies scholars, added Schubert, director of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan based in the University of Tubingen.

A Taiwan Foundation would help international universities willing to promote Taiwan studies to establish professorships, employ contracted faculty members and appoint visiting professors, Schubert said.

Although Taiwan has funding programs for such initiatives as student fellowships, lectures, conferences, the programs are not used to create those positions in universities, he said, unlike the South Korean model.

Questioned by CNA on the sidelines of the conference held at Academia Sinica, Schubert said that a Taiwan Foundation would be important in the sense that it would concentrate all the Taiwan government funding in one institution.

Such funding would provide incentive to Western universities to open up positions for Taiwan studies scholars, he said.

Scholars discuss obstacles to promoting Taiwan studies worldwide

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)