SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies hosts conference on
Participants from the world’s leading Taiwan Studies programmes in Europe and North America

Between September 23 and 24, 2017 the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London hosted the Conference on the Global Development of Taiwan Studies Programmes. The event was designed to gain a clearer idea about what has been achieved in Global Taiwan Studies over the last few decades and how to strengthen the field in the future.

Participants came from the world’s leading Taiwan Studies programmes in Europe and North America. Apart from the SOAS Centre of Taiwan Centre, other speakers includes figures from the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, the Taiwan Studies Progam at the University of Texas at Austin, the French Center for the Study of Contemporary China’s Taipei office, the Taiwan Study Center at the University of Ljubljana, the University of Nottingham’s Taiwan Studies Programme, Wiener Zentrum für Taiwanstudien at Universität Wien, the Taiwan Democracy Project at Stanford University and the Taiwan Studies Programme at Oxford University. In addition representatives from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Association of Taiwan Studies and University of Central Lancashire joined the lively discussions.

In the morning panel participants first introduced the origins and development trajectory of their programmes. While all the programmes have organized Taiwan Studies academic events, only the programmes at Austin and SOAS developed Taiwan degree programmes. In the second panel the focus shifted to how programmes assess their success. A wide range of ideas were shared such as the number and size of events, the numbers of courses and students taking Taiwan courses and the numbers of academics involved in the Taiwan programmes. Programme directors also shared a range of ideas on how to make their programmes successful in today’s competitive higher education sector.

The final panel of the first day addressed the critical question of funding and how to make Taiwan programmes sustainable. A common challenge that all programmes face is how to operate with short term funding. This is especially troublesome for centres that offer teaching programmes.

On the second day the discussion moved on to programmes’ experiences of integrating Taiwan studies within universities. A key to programme success has been making sure they are well integrated within university structures and teaching programmes. The next panel looked at cooperation. Participants discussed their experiences of cooperating with other Taiwan Studies centres as well as area studies or disciplinary programmes. We then went on to discuss how cooperation could be improved such as sharing speakers among other universities in order to save costs.

In the final panel we discussed our hopes for the future. There were a number of common challenges such as short-term funding and staff retention. Despite the challenges, the majority of participants felt optimistic about the future prospects for their programmes and the state of global Taiwan Studies.

  • Photographs

    • Participants from the world’s leading Taiwan Studies programmes in Europe and North America
  • 中央研究院近代史研究所
  • 漢學研究中心
  • 社會學研究所
  • 國史館臺灣文獻館