Asian Initiatives and the ACTC Liberal Arts Institute

ACTC’s Liberal Arts Institute has worked in the past three years with Columbia University’s University Committee on Asia and the Middle East, and with National Chiao-tung University in three international conferences. Interested parties should contact info@coretexts.org.

2010: ACTC’s Liberal Arts Institute Collaborates with Columbia University and National Chiao-tung University to Deliver a Core Text Curricula Conference in Taiwan

ACTC’s Liberal Arts Institute, working with Chiao-tung National University (NC-tU) of Taiwan and Columbia University’s Committee for Asia and the Middle East (UCAME), helped to organize and participated in the international conference, “Studying and Teaching Modern Classical Works in Liberal Education – Significance and Pedagogy,” held in Hsin-chu, Taiwan, January 8-9, 2010.

This conference was the third in a series of conferences, the planning for which began in 2007, that UCAME, Chiao-tung, and ACTC have collaborated to introduce to East Asian, Pacific Rim institutions the structural, textual, and pedagogical considerations for forming core text curricula. Organizers have included Wm. Theodore de Bary, Shang Wei, and Rachel Chung, from UCAME, Thomas Lee from NC-tU, and Scott Lee from ACTC.

Much of the impetus for these conferences involves China’s decision to reorganize its universities along the American, rather than the European, model of undergraduate curricula. This means that general education and core curricula are being explored by not only Chinese, but many other Pacific Rim countries’ administrators and faculty.

This January’s conference focused on texts from about 1500 on. The conference included some presenters whose institutions support the ACTC Liberal Arts Institute. After an opening video presentation by de Bary, Doug Chalmers (Columbia) spoke on “John Locke’s Rationales for Limited Government,” Rachel Chung (Columbia) on “The Model for Study of Music (Akhak Kwebom): Rediscovering a Lost Classic in Confucian Liberal Thought,” Cheung Chan Fai on “In Dialogue with Humanity: Reading of Classics in the New General Education Program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong,” Julie Reahard (St. John’s College, Santa Fe) on, “Core Texts in Mathematics: The Case for Dedekind,” Bainard Cowan (University of Dallas) on “The Novel and Liberal Education,” and S. Lee on “The Cultural Education of Henry Adams.”

Cheung Chan Fai, a participant in all the conferences, and two other representatives from Chinese University of Hong Kong, Julie Chiu and Wing-hung Wong, are joining us at this year’s annual conference. They represent, at this time, the only developed core text program, spanning both East and West, in the Pacific Rim. As such their program, “In Dialogue with Humanity” is a model for the future of core programs in Asia. Lee remarked, “I am hoping that ACTC’s work with Columbia, Thomas Lee, and Cheung Chan Fai will result, over time, in Asian institutions and North American institutions learning from one another on how to put together core text curricula which span the globe.”

2007-2008 at Columbia University and National Chiao-tung University

Over the summer and into the fall of 2007, the Liberal Arts Institute worked with Columbia University’s Heyman Center in developing a conference, “Classics for an Emerging World.” The idea for the conference was Wm. Theodore de Bary’s. He is the John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University and Provost Emeritus of Columbia University, a most distinguished scholar in Asian studies, and a strong, strong supporter of Core Curricula and core texts in the Columbia tradition. The “Classics for an Emerging World” Conference was held, January 19-20th, 2008 at Columbia University. Seven representatives from ACTC addressed the audience along with 18 representatives from Columbia and Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean universities. Five other ACTC representatives from the Liberal Arts Institute and general membership attended, as well.

A year later, Thomas Lee hosted the Conference on Liberal Education and Traditions, in November 2009. ACTC sent Jane Rodeheffer (Board member) from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Bainard Cowan Louisiana State University, and S. Lee to the meeting which focused on Asian and Western texts from ancient times to about 1500.