Newly-appointed Director of the ANU Centre on China in the World (CIW) Dr. Benjamin Penny visited the Tang Prize Foundation this October 6 to talk sustainable development and sinology.
Nearly a year previous, on October 16, 2014, Penny and company visited the Foundation offices to speak on the core values of the CIW, with special attention to its notion of New Sinology, a comprehensive take on the study of Chinese thought, culture, language, and history both ancient and modern. Then, early in 2015, the Tang Prize was invited to participate in the Taiwan: The View from the South conference held at the CIW, and there met with researchers and students in the Sinological field. Geremie R Barmé and Penny (then Director and Deputy Director) voiced approval for the recent awarding of Yu Ying-shih in the Sinology category and applauded Samuel Yin for establishing an award of this caliber in Sinology, a field that is not often recognized by international academic awards.
During his most recent visit, Penny was eager to learn of the foundation's progress in selecting the next round of laureates and its participation in international forums, among them TWAS and COP21. He also applauded the Tang Prize's recent foray into Africa, where it initialized grant projects from Albie Sachs and Gro Harlem Brundtland, the latter of which dealing with sustainability. On the topic of sustainable development, Penny said that Australia is dealing with its own unique problems in sustainability: the country has rich coal deposits which it uses to burn for cheap but dirty energy; Australian climate and agriculture is often at the whim of El Nino, which has recently led to drought, bushfires, and a skein of other climate problems—particularly exposed to harm are Australian aboriginal tribes.
According to Penny, the CIW plans to organize a Sinological workshop commemorating the Chinese scholar Liu Cun-ren. Liu was a foremost expert in Chinese history, literature, and religion, and was invited in the early 1960s to teach at the ANU in Canberra, Australia, where he remained for the latter half of his life. And it was only on Liu's invitation that famed Sinologist Pierre Rychmans (pen name Simon Leys and thesis advisor to former Australian PM Kevin Rudd) accepted a teaching position at ANU.
Rounding up the discussion, Tang Prize CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern suggested the possibility of the 2016 recipient in Sinology giving a lecture at the CIW in Australia and encouraging young students of Sinology to make substantial achievements in the field.