ASAP Communiqué

…for students in the IMAS and IDAS programs at NCCU.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

English Corner

Here’s an update on our crusade to get the English Corner repurposed to a student lounge.

Long story short: it is my impression that I am being given the runaround. I may be wrong about that, however, so I will KBO.

In the previous IDAS committee meeting, I was asked to get buy-in from Dean Pai, the head honcho over at SAO, in addition to the IDAS and IMAS directors. I set up a meeting with him, and the results of that meeting were, basically:

1) They want to keep the conference table in the one-half of the room, as the “student ambassadors” have a meeting there every week or so. (I explained that the room is being used just like any other classroom, and that there are plenty of other classrooms, but they reckon they want to keep using at least that half of the room as just another classroom.)

2) They agreed in principle to a name-change of the conference-room half to “Conference Room” and the other half to “Student Lounge,”which would at least get rid of the insipid name “English Corner.”

3) They also agreed in principle to allow students to do a limited amount of decorating of the space, so long as it doesn’t  cost them anthing (no requisitioning foosball tables, dart boards or comfortable couches.)

OK, so, fast-forward to this Wednesday at the IDAS committee meeting: I gave this information to the administration, explaining that I had secured buy-in from the SAO head, and they declared that the next step in the process would be to

a) get buy-in from the SAO staff;

b) get buy-in from the students. All the students. Of NCCU.

c) submit a proposal for use of the room.

OK, so I know when I’m being set up on a wild goose chase, so this is how I interpret the situation:

They are adverse to change. They love their “English Corner,” and don’t want to let it go, and are wasting my time sending me out to chase my tail in order to get approval for what, at this stage, is little more than a name change.

We therefore have 2 choices: continue this course, or seek an alternate space for a student lounge.

If you want me to continue hunting the white whale, then we may end up with a student lounge which is:

a) half the space of the English Corner;

b) will have to be shared with a conference/classroom (so no music or loud noises, please)

c) any further changes (i.e. can we add a cappucino machine?) would necessitate a repitition of this Kafkaesqu oddyssey of acheiving buy-in from various department heads, thousands of students and the stray dogs on campus; and

d) worst of all, once we obtain this pitiful space with restricted use, they will consider that they have done us a token favour and will have no motivation to approve a bigger, better space (if such is possible) for a student lounge in the future.

The second choice is to find an alternate space for an alternate IMAS/IDAS student lounge. It won’t be on our floor, and maybe not even in our building, an may not even be possible at all.

Personally, I’d rather pursue the second option. I’d like to see a decent place for us to congregate, hang out, read, socialize, and most importantly, feel comfortable. Without Hello-Kittyesque decorations.

Please let me know your thoughts on this: If you agree, then my plan is to:

Compose and submit a proposal to the effect that the “English Corner” be moved to another floor and that that space (rooms 271202 and 271203) be given over exclusively to the IDAS and IMAS departments to administer as a “Student Lounge” completely independently.

If this proposal is accepted: great. If not, no compromises: we leave the “English Corner” as-is, and then start looking somewhere else for a decent space we can actually use.



New Quals System

OK, here’s the scoop with the qualifying exam.

As of Wednesday’s meeting, there is only one (1) qualifying exam required. It is:

a) Track based. No more “one regionalism qual, one qual tailored to the student.” For us, since we are not obliged to declare a track, we can write the qual for the track that is closest to our area of study.

b) Weighted to the internal professor. No more 50/50. In the new system, the internal professor will contribute 2/3 of the questions and the external professor 1/3.

c) Include a methodology question. This is what will take the administration time to set up. The exams will include one question out of 3 or 4 that will encompass the methodology specific to the track.

d) Limited Readings. The reading list will be limited to 5 books and 15 articles from the internal professor, and proportionally fewer for the external.

As before, we still have to pass the qualifying exam prior to sitting a proposal defense, but we can schedule that defense right after the qual (a week or a month).

Students looking at writing the exam in 2012 can choose to go with the old system or wait to use new system in early 2013. If we choose the old system, it is as before. The disadvantages (as I see them) are: 2 quals, 50/50 internal/external, the insane number of repetitive readings, and the regionalism focus (a disadvantage unless you are an IR guy). The advantages are that we can write the 2 exams right away (May 7, and/or the session in September) and not have to wait until spring 2013.

Everybody’s situation is different, so think about what works best for you. For me, I would rather wait a year for them to get the new exam system up and running (and work on my dissertation research in the meantime) rather than waste my time with prepping for one exam now and another in September. If you decide to do likewise, you have to personally let Angel know prior to April 7. That’s next week.

Also, and keep in mind this is not certain, but if we can convince them to hold September’s qual in December, then they might have the new system ready to go by then. If so, we can write the new one in December 2012 rather than March or May 2013. Again, this is not a certainty.

On that note, nothing really is a certainty … The exam as it will be conducted in spring 2013 will be somewhat experimental — the students taking it (myself included) will not yet be the cohort of track-declared students, and so may not have done all of the track work (required courses, methods courses, etc, thought we can audit these classes.)

That’s about all the info there is on this so far … I hope it helps with your decisionmaking!

Tomb Sweeping Day

Every year, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce gets together on Tomb Sweeping Day to clean the historic foreigners cemetery, repaint the lettering on the markers, trim trees and branches, plant bushes, and do whatever is needed to maintain the site. It’s once-a-year occasion to pay respect to the our ancestors in Taiwan–foreigners who came to Taiwan as missionaries, sailors, traders and the like.

You can read more about the event here:

Tomb Sweeping at Danshui

So, this Wednesday, April 4 at 10:00 am, rain or shine, they will be keeping the tradition alive, and if you’d like to take part, it’s a fun experience, and a good opportunity to meet people.

They usually spend an hour at the cemetery, then at around 11:00 they tour the Dr. MacKay museum at the same site, then lunch at The Maple House Diner in Danshui.

More info on Tomb Sweeping Day and detailed directions can be found in the attached PDF file. You can also call 0910-701-790 if you need directions that day.

If you’d like to attend, let them know so that they can arrange for enough paint brushes and other tools. Contact  Hannah Chin at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan at 0911-805-889.

Urban Nomad Film Festival

The Urban Nomad film festival is starting in 2 weeks.
In case you haven’t seen their programme somewhere around the city, there is an online version here.

The Film festival kicks off on 4/12 and goes until 4/22.
Ticket price per film, and daily short films: NT 200
student prices: NT 170
“awesome pack” ticket for any 4 films –only NT 680 !!

The Urban Nomad is always a good time, and a Taiwan tradition. I urge you to check it out.

Town Hall Meeting March 30

Just a reminder about the IDAS meeting tomorrow with Prof. Berman. It starts at 4:00pm on Friday, March 30 in the English Corner.

Among other things, the topics on the agenda include:

  • Qualifying exams (and changes to the QE system)
  • Dissertation research (and new opportunities for funding)
  • Proposals and defense
  • Teaching evaluations
  • track selection
  • Who is the best captain: Kirk or Picard?

Bring all your questions and concerns, as this will be an ideal opportunity to address them.

I am told that food will be served, so bring your appetites as well.

See you there!

CFCS Young Scholar Lecture Series #2

NCCU’s Center for China Studies is hosting a series of lectures by young scholars. As second lecture will be delivered in English, we’re especially invited to attend:

Topic: India-China relations: opportunities, challenges and the salience of economic interdependence

Speaker: Dr. Joe Thomas Karackattu

Date & Time: Friday, April  27,  2012,  10:00  AM  –  12:00  Noon

Location: 6th Floor, Presentation Room, Administration Building, NCCU

Introduction:  The second lecture in the CFCS Young Scholar Lecture Series will be delivered by Dr. Joe Thomas Karackattu. Dr. Karackattu, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Dehli, is currently a Visiting Research Faculty at NCCU’s Institute of International Relations (IIR). Dr. Karackattu’s lecture, India-China relations: opportunities, challenges and the salience of economic interdependence, will explore the state of India-China relations within the overall context of globalization, and the re-ordering of political and economic muscle that this process has entailed.  The lecture will also address areas of perceived “trust deficit” and identify inherent challenges avenues for cooperation.

Register for the lecture here. (Sorry, it’s still available in Chinese only)

Introduction: India-China relations: opportunities, challenges and the salience of economic interdependence

Academia Sinica “1st World Congress of Taiwan Studies” (April 26-28)

Dear all,

I thought you might be interested in taking part of the “1st World Congress of Taiwan Studies”, to be held at Academia Sinica on April 26-28.

This is a unique opportunity, since it is the first time ever that such a Congress is organized !! As a matter of fact, it is jointly organized by 11 Institutes and Centers under the Humanities and Social Sciences Division of Academia Sinica.

It consists of 3 keynote speeches, 26 sessions and… 107 papers!!! (you can check them out in

If none of them catch your interest… well… what could it possibly be said, except that you might have been living in the wrong island?? 😉

Looking forward to seeing you there,


Program at a Glance

April 26 (Thursday), 2012 / April 27 (Friday), 2012 /  April 28 (Saturday), 2012

 April 26 (Thursday), 2012
08:30 – 09:00 Registration and Breakfast
09:00 – 09:30  Opening Ceremony (International Conference Hall)
09:30 – 10:30  Keynote Speech: Professor Ts’ui-jung Liu (International Conference Hall)
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break and Group Photo
11:00 – 12:30
Session A1: Taiwan’s Unique Changing Natural Environment and Their Impacts on Present-day Human Livelihood (International Conference Hall)
Session B1: Party Politics in Taiwan (1st Conference Room)
Session C1: Studies on Formosan Austronesian Languages (2nd Conference Room)
Session D1: Law & Society in Taiwan (IOS Conference Room 802)
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:30
Session A2: Taiwan’s Presence in East Asia during the Cold War (International Conference Hall)
Session B2: Political Institutions in Taiwan (1st Conference Room)
Session C2: Studies on Chinese Languages (2nd Conference Room)
Session D2: Has Taiwanese Economic Structure Had Any Transformations after 30 Years? (IOS Conference Room 802)
15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 – 17:30
Session A3: European Perspectives on Taiwan’s Subjectivity (International Conference Hall)
Session B3: Changing Ruling Parties in Taiwan: Continuity and Change in Domestic and External Policies (1st Conference Room)
Session C3: Infrastructure Projects and Social Control in Japanese Colonial Taiwan (2nd Conference Room)
Session D3: Trade, FDI and Taiwan’s Economic Development (IOS Conference Room 802)
17:30 – 18:00  Performance of Musou Band (International Conference Hall)

GR:EEN Second Annual Conference

The GR:EEN Second Annual Conference is coming up, and it looks like a GR:EAT opportunity. They have issued a call for papers on the topic of the recent expansion of transnational governance and how that diversity permits interlinked institutions to forge a strong de facto regulatory regime.  I don’t know what that means, but if you do, you may just be able to take advantage of this op:portunity.

IMAS/IDAS Field Trip

Dr. Blundell’s class on Asia-Pacific Cultural History is taking a field trip, and all are invited!

It is on the morning after St. Patrick’s Day night, so remember your hangover helper.

On Sunday morning March 18th – we will gather at 10:00 in front of the Taiwan Museum (on the steps) 2 Siangyang Road, Taipei 100 (near main station) – phone-2382-2566. We will examine the meaning of infrastructure and the enterprise of colonialism using the Japanese platform experiment of Taiwan.

See location:

Brings friends, as you like.

Career Opportunities in RSIS

The Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), is inviting applications from suitably qualified individuals to join them in a number of positions. Check it out on their website.

Thanks to Kevin for this one.

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