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In Memoriam of William Theodore de Bary,
the 2016 laureate in Sinology

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Beloved Scholar of Confucianism Dies at 97

William Theodore de Bary, professor at Columbia University and recipient of the Tang Prize in Sinology, passed away at his home on Friday (July 14). He was 97.

De Bary was awarded the Tang Prize in 2016 “for his pioneering contributions in Confucian studies” and “establishing the field of Neo-Confucianism in the West.”

After finding an early interest in Chinese and other traditions of the East, de Bary spearheaded a program at Columbia to bring the Asian classics into the curriculum. He brought together a team of translators who were charged with rendering the works in English and providing important commentary that let students understand the times and forces surrounding them. The result was the Sources series, which has remained popular with students in its many re-printings.

De Bary remained a stalwart promoter of education and the university life, even into his later days. He was a regular attendant of home football games at Columbia, he was known for meeting with each of his students for one-on-one exams, and he continued to teach courses at Columbia after his formal retirement in 1989. In the days before his passing, de Bary had even learned that one of his courses for the next semester had been overbooked.

We at the Tang Prize Foundation offer our heartfelt condolences to the friends, family, students, and colleagues of William Theodore de Bary. His work in interculturation will live and grow long after his passing.

Photo Credit: Dr. Tze-wan Kwan, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, Chinese University of Hong Kong
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The “Great Conversation” will Continue after Passing of Sinology Laureate

A long-time colleague and friend of William Theodore de Bary at Columbia, Rachel Chung will continue the work of the monumental scholar.

Chung graduated from Julliard in New York in the mid-nineties before enrolling at Columbia University for graduate studies in Musicology, with an interest in 19th Century German Romanticism. But after taking one course on Neo-Confucianism taught by de Bary, Chung continued to study under him for the remainder of her degree, and then worked alongside him on the University Committee on Asia & the Middle East (UCAME). She now serves as the committee’s director.

Tang Prize CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern has plans to visit with Rachel and de Bary’s family in October, to extend his condolences in person and to celebrate de Bary’s great legacy. He will also speak with Chung on the progress of the Tang Prize Grant, a portion of the prize money that must be destined to a project which furthers progress in the field of the laureate.

De Bary provided his grant to Chung, whose project, “Interculturation: Pedagogy & Praxis,” will continue the “great conversation” among the world’s cultures by formulating theories and practical methods for globalizing education in the humanities. It will also promote the expansion of the Symposium, a program that engages students in thoughtful discussion on the classics and great books of the world. As of 2016, these small student-driven Symposiums have taken root in such far off places as Beijing, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Cape Town. It is hoped that the project will allow this globalizing world to find shared human values for the future.
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IUBMB and the Tang Prize Jointly Host a Lecture in the 42nd FEBS Congress

Prof. Feng Zhang, one of the 2016 Tang Prize laureates in Biopharmaceutical Science, delivered a Tang Prize/IUBMB Lecture during the 42nd FEBS (Federation of European Biochemical Societies) Congress that took place in Jerusalem from September 10th – 14th.

This Tang Prize/IUBMB Lecture, titled “From Microbial Immunity to Genome Editing,” was delivered in the late afternoon on September 12th and attracted over a thousand participants. Prof. Zhang touched upon the application and rapid research development of the gene editing technology and introduced the latest direction in his research.

The IUBMB President Joan J. Guinovart invited the Tang Prize CEO Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern to host the lecture together. An IUBMB medal and a diploma jointly endorsed by the Tang Prize and the IUBMB were presented to Prof. Zhang before the lecture, recognizing his contribution in Optogenetics and genome editing technology.
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The Tang Prize Meets New Friends in Israel

As one of the Tang Prize’s commitment in promoting the education in its four award categories, the Foundation CEO Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern travels to Israel, visiting the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) on September 11th.

The WIS is one of the world’s top science research institutions that ranked 6th in the 2017 Nature Innovation Index. Dr. Chern took the opportunity to talk to several influential academic leaders during his on campus visit, including Vice President Michal Neeman, Professors Anat Yarden and Reshef Tenne, and Dr. Liat Ben-David.

Later during the same day, Dr. Chern met with Ms. Reut Inon-Berman, the Director-General of the Wolf Foundation, and Estella Ophir of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to share experiences on the dissemination of international awards and promotion of interactions among laureates and the future generations. 
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A New Partner in Promoting Sustainable Development

The Tang Prize met a new partner – the European Center of Sustainable Development (ECSDEV) – on the path of promoting Sustainable Development through participating in another international event.

The ECSDEV organized its 5th International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) in Rome, Italy from September 6th – 7th. The Tang Prize CEO, Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern, attended the Conference and delivered a lecture on the topic “Social-Cultural Sustainability of Typhoon Morakot Post-Disaster Reconstruction in Taiwan.”

Besides sharing experiences on applying sustainable development in reconstruction, Dr. Chern also took the opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Aranit Shkurti, a member of the ECSDEV. During the meeting, the option of forming a network between the Tang Prize and the ECSDEV by signing a partnership agreement between the two organizations was discussed. Additional cooperation between the Tang Prize and the ECSDEV can be foreseen.
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Youth on the Move! The Innovation Competition is Back

This year, the Tang Prize has brought Innovation Competition back into high schools across Taiwan. 9 teams from 7 senior high schools are currently executing projects with the aim to bring about positive change in the world. Let’s take a glimpse into these innovations!

A group from the Taipei First Girls High School introduced topics concerning the rule of law to elementary school students. The group elaborated on the story of Jing Ke, a Chinese historical assassin who attempted to murder First Emperor of Qin for his tyranny, and dropped a question, “Are you entitled to murder someone when your life is being threatened?”

One group from the Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School (CKHS) is looking to write a textbook to introduce Taiwan. Students visited Hao-Yi Wang, a well-known local writer from Tainan, to learn more on the city’s local history. Another group of the CKHS focuses the project on ecological conservation. The group went to Bali Incineration Plant to conduct ecological surveys.

Moreover, students from Nantou Chunghsing Senior High School are learning the practices of citizen journalism by visiting and interviewing residents from local communities, and a group from the Hsinchu Senior High School chooses to examine the environmental damage caused by pesticides. Another group from the National Pei-Men Senior High School is doing a survey on gender issues.

For more information on the students’ activities, please visit our Facebook fanpage 唐獎青年 Tang Prize X Young Minds

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In Memoriam of William Theodore de Bary,
the 2016 laureate in Sinology