The Crisis in Humanities: What Can the Study of Asia Offer?

2013 Asia in the Humanities/Humanities in Asia Forum

Monday, October 21, 2013
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
UCLA Faculty Center
Hacienda Room

UCLA Asia Institute presents the

2013 Asia in the Humanities/Humanities in Asia Forum

with presentations by

David Schaberg, Dean of Humanities and Professor of Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA
Terms of Engagement in Academia East and West


 Ping-chen Hsiung, Director, Research Institute for the Humanities and Professor of History, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Humanities over the longue duree: The Case of Modern China

 The humanities as a collection of research and teaching fields are being challenged across North America and Europe from within the university, by administrators, faculty and students shaping curricula and choosing majors, as well as from without, by policy makers and the wider public scrutinizing economic investment and the value of a higher education. In debates often pitting the economic and utilitarian value of scientific and technical knowledge against the virtues of critical and creative thinking learned through a humanities education, the stakes are high for the allocation of resources as well as the perceived role of education itself to future citizens and societies as a whole. In these debates, the study of Asia has been a minor aspect of the crisis and has to date held a modest position in discussions of how to respond to it.  Opportunistically, it might be argued that an understanding of Asian languages and cultural traditions can only enhance the competitive advantage of our future citizens in a global environment. Deep study of Asian intellectual traditions and historical frameworks also point toward new paradigms in humanities scholarship itself. Surprisingly, perhaps to humanists in the West, the humanities are being funded and promoted in many parts of Asia and are seen as essential to political and economic policy and public discourse.  What might we learn from the approach to humanities in Asia and how might the study of Asian humanities be part of response to the crisis of humanities in American academia?

In the Asia in the Humanities/Humanities in Asia 2013 Forum, David Schaberg, UCLA dean of humanities, and Ping-chen Hsiung, former dean of humanities at both Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Central University Taiwan, will present remarks based on their scholarly and administrative experiences.  Their expertise will inform a discussion of the larger issues of the current crisis and future place of the humanities at American universities like UCLA.

A light reception will follow.

The Asia Institute's initiative on the Humanities in Asia/Asia in the Humanities brings together scholars from the fields of history, literature, religion, and the arts working across time periods and Asian spaces to develop new frames of research and pedagogy. For further information about the initiative and its programs, click here.

The Asia Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of the UCLA Dean of Humanities and Ms. Agnes Lin for this event. Prof. Hsiung is currently visiting professor in the UCLA department of History and Scholar-in-Residence at the Asia Institute. We acknowledge the co-sponsorship of the CUHK Research Institute for the Humanities and the Fo Guang Shan-CUHK “Humanist Humanities” Global Concern Project.


Sponsor(s): Asia Pacific Center