Another semester begins at NCCU

After a very long summer vacation it was back to school again this week. I am now starting the second year of the Master’s in Taiwan Studies. If all goes to plan then I will finish the course within a year.

I am taking two classes this semester, State and Society in Taiwan and the Ethnic Development of China. The introductory lecture in Ethnic Development of China gave a quite fascinating overview of China’s 55 official ethnic minorities. The lecturer also pointed out some of the anomalies and mistakes in the classification. He also told the story of how the Kalmyks became the only Buddhists in Europe.

State and Society in Taiwan explores the relationship between state and civil society and also looks at frameworks for social science research. It should be very useful for me as it is related to my thesis topic which is about the rights of indigenous peoples in Taiwan.

How does NCCU rank?

Fili has written a post exploring the rankings of NCKU (國立成功大學). I want to take a similar look at the rankings for National Chengchi University (國立政治大學). NCCU doesn’t make it on some of the lists that Fili has referenced. National Taiwan University (國立臺灣大學) is the only Taiwanese university on the 2007 Times Higher Education list of the Top 200 World Universities ranked at 102. There are four Taiwanese universities in the top 400 (NTU, NCKU, NCU, NTHU).

NCCU is also not in the 2007 Shanghai Jiao Tong University list of top 100 Asia Pacific Universities. This list includes six Taiwanese universities (NTU, NCKU, NTHU, NCTU, NCU, NYMU).

A few years ago there was a controversy when NCCU slipped to 48 on the Taiwan Ministry of Education rankings. The reason for this was that the rankings, based on the number of articles in three important databases, favored schools which focused on science and engineering. NCCU is focused on social sciences and business.

On the Webometrics Ranking NCCU ranks 7 in Taiwan, 38 in Asia and 552 in the world. On the Asiaweek 2000 Asia’s best universities NCCU ranks 44 in Asia and 8 in Taiwan. ranks NCCU’s MBA program 21 in Asia. In Asiaweek’s 2000 rankings of the best full time Asian MBAs NCCU ranked 15. In Social Sciences NCCU is ranked 197 in the world on the Times rankings (source: poster at NCCU).

A number of Taiwanese universities such as NTU, NCKU and NTHU consistently appear in various rankings and can be considered Taiwan’s leading universities. NCCU is often mentioned alongside these universities, but it may fail to achieve similar rankings because of its weakness in the sciences.

Fili has also cited a research project by the Australian government on a Taiwan government plan for Taiwanese universities to break into the top 100 of the world. You can download a copy of the report. Twelve universities have been targetted by this program and NCCU is amongst them. Another interesting thing I found researching this post is that I found my alma mater, The University of Melbourne, consistently ranks very highly.

Taiwan has a huge problem

Last night I gave a presentation on "CO2 emissions and economic growth in Taiwan" in my Economic Development of Taiwan class at NCCU. The purpose of the presentation was to introduce our final paper. My presentation can be read in full in this pdf file: CO2 emissions and economic growth in Taiwan. In the paper I briefly discuss why Taiwan has had such a high growth rate in emissions and suggest some policies that might be adopted to help reduce some emissions.

There are two graphs similar to the one above in the paper. What they show is that Taiwan is on a quite frightening projectory. The growth in Taiwan's CO2 emissions has outstripped the world average more than four-fold. Furthermore, the increasing emissions are strongly linked to economic growth.

The graph was created using the Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) by the World Resources Institute. It can be accessed on the internet at (registration required). Unfortunately Taiwan is excluded from the data compiled by the UNFCCC as Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.

Indigenous conference in Taipei

I attended the 2008 World Summit of Indigenous Cultures (全球原住民文化會議) in Taipei over the weekend. The conference included speeches, musical performances and an open space forum. Indigenous people from The Philippines, Canada and the USA attended as well as many indigenous people from Taiwan and academics and researchers.

On Saturday night there was a welcome banquet at the Grand Hotel. It was a chance to meet some of the participants and also enjoy some wonderful music and dancing performances.  The picture above shows a Taroko man playing the mouth harp. It is an instrument carved from bamboo.

On Sunday the conference moved to the Taipei County Government building in Banqiao where the papers were presented. The talks were based on three themes: Indigenous belief systems today, Developing indigenous enterprise and indigenous wisdom and protection of the environment.

The keynote speech was given by indigenous legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉). He spoke about Continue reading “Indigenous conference in Taipei”

April breakfast meeting

This month's breakfast meeting held on Saturday morning in Taipei featured two speakers from Australia, Dr Lily Wang and Professor Bruce Jacobs. Our usual chronicler of these events, Michael Turton, was absent so Jerome asked me to write a brief report.

Dr Lily Wang was born in Taiwan, went to high school in New Zealand and then got her medical degree in Australia. She is now a second year registrar in radiology and studying for a Master's degree in Public Health. She is also the CEO of the Australian Taiwanese WHO for Taiwan Action Association

Taiwan's bid to obtain observer status at the WHA was the topic of Lily's presentation. Lily began by talking about the time of the SARS outbreak in 2003. It was not until seven weeks after the first SARS case was identified in Taiwan that the WHO sent any officials to Taiwan. She said Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO is like a "hole in the net" in the event of a major global outbreak of avian flu or other diseases.  

Lily has written to many members of parliament in Australia about the issue and received responses. She also wrote a letter to the Western Pacific regional director of WHO and was surprised to get a response. In 2005 she got a motion passed on WHO membership for Taiwan at the NSW Young Liberals conference. She also raises the issue with her colleagues in the medical profession.

Bruce Jacobs is Professor of Asian Languages and Studies at Monash University in Melbourne. His connections with Taiwan go back more than 40 years. The main topic of his talk was 400 years of Taiwan history and seeing that history in terms of colonialism. The key point Bruce wanted to emphasize was that the Taiwan issue should not be framed in terms of independence versus unification, but as a process of decolonisation. He believes the KMT can also be considered a colonial regime and gave several examples of similarities between the Japanese colonial period and the KMT rule.

Bruce also shared his opinions about Ma Ying-jeou and the incoming KMT government. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's recent visit to China also came up for discussion. I'll have some more about Kevin Rudd in the links on Monday.

Update: Jerome has also written a report of the meeting.  

Second trip to Smangus

Xiuluan (Tunan) Primary School in Xinzhu County, Taiwan

On Saturday I went on my second trip to Smangus. The weather was perfect and it was a great day to travel in the mountains. This time I travelled with my NCCU classmate Sandy and her husband. Sandy has worked as a primary school in some of the villages in this area. We stopped at Xiuluan Primary School (秀巒國小) where she used to work on the way.   

Atayal language lesson at Xiulang Primary School in Xinzhu County, Taiwan

Here you can see an Atayal language lesson on the notice board at the school. "Lokah su ga?" is Atayal for "How are you?"

Road to Smangus in Taipei County

The road into the mountains goes up and up. This is one of the better made sections of the road!

Lunch at Smangus, Xinzhu County, Taiwan

We got to Smangus in time for lunch. During this visit I just wanted to learn more about the life of the people living in Smangus rather than more about the tree stump case. I was able to get some good background information.  Continue reading “Second trip to Smangus”

History in the hills of Taipei

Today I joined Linda Arrigo on a walk around the hills behind Taipei Medical University (臺北醫學大學). The area is covered in graves which reveal many layers of the history of Taiwan in the post World War II period. Most of the graves are of people who arrived in Taiwan with the KMT after 1945 and there is a large number of Christian and Muslim graves. Michael Turton has a post on his blog about some of the history of this area and the slides from Linda's PowerPoint presentation at flickr. I'll add some more of my own photos and commentary. 

Taipei 101 with Taipei Medical University in the foreground

The Taipei Medical University is in the foreground of the photo. The area is within walking distance of Taipei 101. 

Crew from CTI TV recording Linda talking about the local history

A crew from CTI TV (中天電視網) came to record Linda talking about the history of the area. They will produce a segment for a news magazine program. There was also a journalist from the United Daily News (聯合報) there.  Continue reading “History in the hills of Taipei”

Semester 2 at NCCU

Panorama of Muzha, Taipei City - taken from the roof of the General Building at NCCU

The new semester at NCCU started two weeks ago now. I am taking four subjects this semester. They are Economic Development of Taiwan, Social Development of Taiwan, Research Methods and Case Study. 

The content of the first two subjects is fairly self-explanatory. In Social Development we are planning a group project on the topic of racism and discrimination in Taiwan. I believe this issue is particularly important because of changing demographics in Taiwan; in particular the large number of immigrants from Southeast Asia and children born to mothers who are not native Taiwanese. In Economic Development I plan to write a paper about the links between economic development and increasing CO2 emissions in Taiwan. 

Case Study and Research Methods deal more with the how and why of research rather than focusing on a specific topic. Taking these two courses should enable me to develop my thesis topic and to have some good ideas about how to write it. 

NCCU has also launched a new International Doctor in Asia-Pacific Studies. This is a Ph.D. program taught in English. If you are interested in applying for this course or any of the others offered by NCCU the application period is on now. Check applications for admission 2008 for more details.