The opening ceremony of the Institute for World Literatures and Cultures (IWLC), Tsinghua University, was held on April 12, 2016 as one of the activities celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature (DFLL). Chen Xu, Chairperson of Tsinghua University Council, and James Holloway, Vice President for global affairs of the University of Michigan, attended the event. The signing ceremony of the agreement on the establishment of The Tsinghua-Michigan Society of Fellows was held on the same day. Professor Shi Yigong, Vice President of Tsinghua University, and Professor Holloway signed the agreement.
Chen Xu, James Holloway, Zheng Li, and Yan Haiping unveiled the plaque to mark the official opening of the Institute for World Literatures and Cultures.
IWLC, authorized by Tsinghua University on Dec. 25, 2014, aims to conduct ground-breaking research as well as to improve teaching. It inherits the “all-embracing” tradition of Tsinghua foreign language studies and humanities studies, and explores innovatively the theory and practice of “telling Chinese stories by interpreting the world.” In the spirit of “integrating research with teaching,” IWLC, on the one hand, will play a leading role in cross-language, cross-cultural research and in international cooperation, and actively join international scholars in initiating critical propositions in world literatures and cultures; on the other hand, it will promote implementing “multi-leveled courses,” integrate language skills with intellectual development and general knowledge acquisition in teaching, and optimize the curriculum systematically, so as to foster international talents with multilingual potentials and characteristics.
Chen Xu expressed her congratulations for the 90th anniversary of DFLL and the founding of the IWLC. She said that IWLC, as one of the important strategies for Tsinghua to rank among world leading universities, is to push forward the comprehensive reform currently in progress and to strengthen both teaching and research in the field of humanities at Tsinghua. She also expressed her wishes that DFLL and IWLC would attain an even higher goal, and make a greater contribution to the innovation, interpretation and spreading of cross-cultural theories in the world.
Yan Haiping, Dean of the IWLC, expressed her sincere hope that the students of the institute should equip themselves with a global insight, intellectual endowment and positive attitude to shoulder the responsibility for the human community, and should become experts on world affairs who are able to combine the Way with the spirit of Tsinghua, and experts on Chinese culture who understand the world. In future academic practices, the students, already standing on the frontier of international cultural communication, should engage themselves in “interpreting the world” and “telling Chinese stories,” to contribute their bits to establishing a new model of major power relationship and the renewal of world culture.
Chen Xu, James Holloway, Zheng Li (vice provost of Tsinghua University), and Yan Haiping jointly unveiled the plaque of the IWLC. Professor James Holloway, Professor Gao Fengfeng (Peking University), Professor Wang Zhongchen (representing faculty of IWLC), and Shou Tianyi (representing students of IWLC) made speeches respectively.
It is reported that in response to the world’s future trend of higher education, IWLC will lay a special emphasis on equipping students with bilingual or multilingual capabilities of intercultural thinking as well as with negotiating skills on the international platform. In 2015, an experimental class was jointly launched by DFLL and IWLC. The first class made 10 recruitments, with a newly designed curriculum, which includes core courses in liberal arts education taught in Chinese universities and English classical courses taught in European and American universities. Being immersed in bona fide Western classics and traditional Chinese learning from the very beginning, students will be trained with a bi-focus on both the traditional and the modern, the Chinese and the Western. In doing so, the objective of IWLC, “integrating Chinese culture with Western ones, " is not far from being achieved. IWLC has already rallied a strong faculty team well steeped in literature, history, philosophy and foreign languages and literatures, including Yan Haiping, Wang Zhongshen, Chen Yongguo, Cao Li, Huang Yusheng, Liu Shi, and Peng Gang.
On the same day, the agreement on the establishment of The Tsinghua-Michigan Society of Fellows was jointly signed by Shi Yigong, Vice President of Tsinghua University, and James Holloway, vice-provost for global affairs of the University of Michigan. By establishing a platform for extensive communication and cooperation between Tsinghua University and the University of Michigan, this society is to promote cross-cultural academic cooperation in the field of humanities and to improve academic communication among the fellows of Tsinghua and Michigan. As part of IWLC’s international policies, this society will offer postdoctoral fellows an opportunity of teaching and research at Tsinghua.
To further develop Sino-American and Pan-Pacific cross-country cultural studies and improve cross-cultural communications, IWLC plans to set up two subdivisions, “Institute for Cross-cultural Theories” and “Institute for John King Fairbank and American Culture.”
Representatives of other universities in Beijing, leaders from related offices such as President’s Office, International Affairs Office, Publicity Office of Tsinghua University, and representatives of teachers and students from the School of Humanities, Tsinghua University, attended the ceremonies.
Professor Shi Yigong and Professor James Holloway signed the agreement on the establishment of Tsinghua-Michigan Society of Fellows.