Reinforcing ties with Taiwan
On May 4, Provost Carl Amrhein signed a letter of intent with the government of Taiwan designating the University of Alberta as a Taiwan Academy contact centre to strengthen bilateral exchange in the areas of Taiwanese and Chinese culture, education and academia.
“We’ve been hard pressed to keep up with the demand for Chinese language and culture classes, so this is really important to us,” said Amrhein, who credits a Grade 7 class in which he turned in a paper on Taiwan as the class that pushed him to pursue a career in geography. “We look forward to further and deeper collaboration with industry and universities in Taiwan.”
Michael Tseng, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver, was on hand for the signing. He said it is a priority of the Taiwanese government to find prestigious universities as counterpoints to those in Taiwan, and he was especially pleased that the U of A agreed to be the first signatory in western Canada.
“We believe through this platform we will better enable an exchange of information and bridge cultural and academic exchanges,” said Tseng. “We hope through this mechanism we can have a further deeper cooperation in the future.”
Leslie Cormack, dean of the Faculty of Arts, said the Taiwanese academy at the U of A is particularly strong, led by professors like East Asian studies chair Ryan Dunch, Taiwanese literature professor Lin Jenn-Shann in the Department of East Asian Studies, and Chinese linguistics professor John Newman, all of whom have an interest in Taiwanese language and culture. The U of A is also home many collections, like the Mactaggart Art Collection, which is composed of more than 1,000 rare works from ancient and modern East Asia donated to the university in 2005 by Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart, that allows researchers from all over the world to shine a light on East Asian history.
“We also have a number of functional exchange programs with Taiwan schools as well as 77 graduate and undergraduate Taiwanese students studying here,” said Cormack. “We also have a long-standing interest in Taiwanese literature and culture, so it seems to me like a natural connection.”