New Initiative Offers Courses, Lectures, Community Outreach in Taiwan Studies

Posvar Hall at night

A new initiative at Pitt’s Asian Studies Center (ASC) is putting the focus on Taiwan—an island whose history encapsulates important historical and cultural forces that helped to shape Asia.

“Centering Taiwan in Global Asia,” which will be rolled out next year, has three components:

  • Two new courses in Taiwan Studies—Taiwan Diaspora: From Island to Home in a Global Context and The History of Modern Taiwanwill be offered. They will be taught by Shih-yung Liu, who obtained his PhD from Pitt in 2020 and taught for many years at Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
  • A robust community engagement program that will help regional educators learn more about Taiwan’s culture and religion; provide teaching and lesson plans to as many as 460 K-12 teachers in other states, including those who teach under-represented students; and offer a new Global Asia website to teachers for lesson planning.
  • A Taiwan Studies lecture and film series that will invite leading intellectuals to Pittsburgh to deliver lectures and meet with Pitt faculty, students and members of community groups. A Taiwanese film will be added to the ASC’s annual Screenshot Asiafilm festival.
     

ASC Director Joseph Alter said the Global Asia initiative will help to introduce the island’s unique culture and history to a broader audience of teachers, students and the general public.

“Understanding Taiwan means more than remembering a location on a map,” said Alter. “Recognizing Taiwan as emblematic of the historical and contemporary forces that connect Asia to the United States and the world will work to develop a stronger and nuanced understanding of what it means to be Taiwanese and build a deeper appreciation of its role in shaping modern Asia.”

Pitt’s ASC, which is part of the University Center for International Studies, provides more than 270 East Asian-focus courses taught by 137 faculty members and reaches about 8,540 students.