Between Past and Future: IMAS 2021 Workshop in Tamsui
On March 5 and 6, the International Master’s Program in Asia-Pacific Studies (IMAS) at National Chengchi University (NCCU) partnered with the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies (GIFS) and the Department of Diplomacy and International Relations (DDIR) at Tamkang University (TKU) to jointly conduct an academic workshop in Tamsui. The workshop, titled “Taiwan in the Asia Pacific: Between Past and Future,” included nine NCCU students who came from a diverse group of countries ranging from Burkina Faso to the Ukraine. The workshop was also attended by over one hundred TKU students. Participants enjoyed hearing different academic perspectives and learning about the rich historical heritage of Tamsui.
The workshop began with keynote speeches from Dr. Brett Benson and Dr. Eiichiro Azuma. Dr. Benson, who is a professor of Political Science and Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University, spoke about the development of Asian international relations since the Cold War and analyzed the future of Sino-Taiwan relations. Dr. Azuma, who is a professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the winner of 2020 John K. Fairbank Prize for East Asian History, used historical perspectives to explain the role of immigration in international relations. It was a pleasure to hear from these distinguished professors in person rather than from a remote video call.
Following the keynote speeches, students from both schools began their academic exchange. Presentation topics included semiconductor policy, vaccine diplomacy, cyber warfare, the history of Taiwanese international relations, and the ontological foundations of East Asian politics. In the end of the workshop, Francesca Sfriso represented IMAS and delivered closing remarks in which she emphasized the importance of interscholastic academic exchange and expressed deep appreciation for the efforts of TKU faculty members and students.
In addition to academic exchange, the workshop aimed to teach international students about the early links between Taiwan and the world. Students travelled to Aletheia University, where they met with English docents dispatched by the university. Together with the docents, IMAS student visited Oxford College, missionary accommodation, and the residence of George Leslie Mackay. By visiting these historical sites, IMAS students were able to learn about the role of Christianity in Taiwanese education and medicine during the nineteenth century.
IMAS students also learned about Western colonial legacy through their visit to Fort San Domingo. The history of the fort is a great representation of the tumultuous and fluid nature of colonialism in Taiwan; since it was established by the Spanish in the seventeenth century, the fort was successively controlled by the Netherlands, Koxinga, the Qing Dynasty, Japan, Great Britain, and the US before finally coming under Taiwanese jurisdiction in 1980.
Tamsui has rich colonial stories. Students stayed over-night in the TKU campus and enjoyed breakfast by the former a seaplane airport established by the Japanese in 1941. They also visited the landing point of the French Marines during 1884 Sino-French War and travelled by boat to the estuary where the French battleships deployed.
Dr. Philip Hsiaopong Liu, the director of IMAS, expressed his sincere appreciation for the assistance of DDIR and GIFS. Dr. Liu noted that IMAS has also cooperated with schools in Yilan, Keelung, and Matsu over the past two years. These opportunities allowed students to present their research and network at other academic institutions while learning about Taiwanese history, culture, and industry.
The IMAS program focuses on exploring the links between Taiwan, Asia-Pacific, and the world, and welcomes international students interested in joining the IMAS family.