Rachel E. Chung is a long-time student, colleague, and friend of William Theodore de Bary, the 2016 Tang Prize laureate in Sinology. The Tang Prize CEO Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern visited Chung on October 12th. Thoughts and comments on the facilitation of the “great conversation” among high school students in Taiwan and the cooperation with the DB Global Humanities Foundation were exchanged.
According to Chung, establishing the field of Neo-Confucianism in the West is only the first step of de Bary’s work. His ultimate goal would be to foster a global conversation and promote the research, education, and dissemination of Sinology based on the common values and experiences shared by the East and the West. Chung further explained de Bary’s academic contribution and legacy. De Bary not only promoted the study of Neo-Confucianism, but he also set forth a teaching methodology – education through conversation – that is applicable in Sinology and subjects other than Sinology, benefiting educators in the other fields. During his time in Columbia University, de Bary brought up the idea about promoting the conversation between human nature and Mother Nature. With plentiful experience in post-disaster reconstruction, Dr. Chern also commented on the importance of cross-field conversation among engineers since reconstruction is a cross-field project, with psychology, livelihood, and economy being parts of the whole.
Currently, Chung is continuing de Bary’s work, formulating theories and practical methods for globalizing education in the humanities. The Symposium, a program that engages students in thoughtful discussion on the classics and great books of the world, have taken root in such far off places as Japan, China, Thailand, India, and Pakistan. In Taiwan, this program has been launched in Taipei this summer. Students from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures of Columbia University led students from the Taichung Wagor High School to study and discuss classic literature in English or the local language. The Symposium will continue the “great conversation” through the humanistic interculturation with other high school students across Taiwan and across the world.
On the other side, the Tang Prize is also currently reaching out to high school students, influencing younger generation through sharing laureates’ life stories. The Tang Prize is willing to lend a hand and assist with continuing de Bary’s lifetime work on facilitating further research, development, publications, and outreach of ideas and concepts related to Sinology and humanistic interculturation, promoting conversations among the world’s cultures.