In Taiwan, an academic innovation force, supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, is being incubated and some places are quietly changing.
Humanity Innovation Meets Social Practices: Puli, located in central Taiwan, is a township with great natural sceneries which in recent years have suffered from serious smog problems. A team from National Chi Nan University has developed a system of air pollution micro-sensors and Internet of Things, then jointly promoted it with local civil groups so that air pollution can finally be “seen” via the measurement of sensors, which encourages the public to take self-protection measures and actively reduce pollution to restore the good air.
Academic Innovation Combines Local Experiences: in the foothill farmland area of Dongshan District of Tainan City, a group of farmers have started a fruits-harvest club and the farmer’s co-learning school, with professional assistance from the research team at National Cheng-Kung University. By co-learning and sharing food and agricultural knowledge, the farmers are able to go through the difficult transition and initiate more environmentally friendly farming practices and more diverse economic models. Furthermore, a few students from NCKU were fascinated by the country lifestyle after participating in the classes and chose to stay in the communities to start their own businesses after graduation. They work together with the local residents to explore the local cultural and industrial resources, bringing vitality to the mountain villages.
On March 6th, the Ministry of Science and Technology will hold a new book presentation for New Practices and Local Societies as well as a presentation for project achievements to demonstrate the academic accomplishments of the project supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology with funding of around 200 millions since 2013. The presentation will introduce how the project combines theories and practices, emphasizes the partnership between universities and communities based on the needs of communities, and present the transformation of the local societies.
Incubating Universities' Social Engagement
Since the launch of “Humanity Innovation and Social Practice Project” in July 2013, seven universities, including National Chengchi University, National Dong Hwa University, National Chi Nan University, National Cheng Kung University, Taipei Medical University, Tunghai University and National Sun Yat-sen University, have participated in the project. With the full support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, this research project assembled interdisciplinary professional teams, with humanities and social sciences scholars as the core, to step out of schools and to work and learn with community residents to exchange professional knowledge with local wisdoms. These teams propose innovative and action plans to address the complicated issues of communities, further solve regional problems, improve the well-being of the local residents, and demonstrate the positive contribution of humanities and social sciences to social reforms. In addition, the project has encouraged the universities to fulfill their social responsibilities and then led other domestic universities to devote themselves to social practices.
Incubating New Local Practice Knowledge
New Practices and Local Societies is part of the research results of this project and it delicately depicts the accumulated achievements of the research teams as they undertake practice, observation and research at various places. The book focuses on the roles and interactions between universities and local communities. The nine papers in this book are divided into three main themes: “Roles of University System and Local Communities,” “Connection Mechanism of Courses and Platforms” and “Local Projects and Concrete Practices,” offering in-depth analysis of the solutions provided by the universities for social engagement and social practice, facilitating the networking, reciprocity and trust among people, and changing the quality of life of communities through joint participation. The innovative case studies and diverse experiences in this book are valuable research results to be used as references for future practical actions.
The vision of “Humanity Innovation and Social Practice Project” aims to establish a pluralistic academic paradigm that combines theoretical research with social practices. The official website of the project establishes a social innovation database that provides abundant relevant references and case studies at home and abroad, with which research scholars and the practitioners engaged in local development can grasp the existing research results and practical experiences both at home and abroad. At the same time, the website serves as a new channel for scholars and experts engaged in social practices to publish and exchange their study results, and The Journal of New Praxis is created to facilitate more academic dialogue and knowledge dissemination.
Incubating New Academic Research Talent Pool
University professors and researchers are encouraged to stay in and work with local communities and have long-term interactions with the local residents, civil groups and local governments in identifying local problems and finding workable solutions together. By this, academic disciplines and the local wisdom are merged and transformed into academic studies based on the dialogues between practices and theories. This kind of talent cultivation for the humanity and social science discipline is an innovative attempt and persistent effort of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Moreover, facilitating improvement of recruitment and promotion system at universities enables young scholars to teach there. New courses are developed to nurture young students and the research tradition of learning and application is gradually established. These outcomes fulfill the implementation of the Ministry of Science and Technology in promoting “Diverse talent cultivation measures for a smooth talent flow.”
Minister Chen, who highly values the ideas of “Setting up a great foundation for basic research,” “Promoting profound innovations and entrepreneurship” and “Enriching the scientific and technological talents,” further emphasizes that the research and talent cultivation in humanities and social sciences take time and shall not be rushed. During the process of innovative thinking, research, and practice, the connection with local communities requires a long-term participation and continuous revision to cultivate a closer social relationship and lay a more solid academic foundation. “Facilitating the interaction between innovation and practice and bringing mutual benefits to academia and society” are not only the main purpose of New Practices and Local Societies, but also the very starting point of the “Humanity Innovation and Social Practice Project.”
Research results contact
Department & Graduate Institute of Sociology, NTU
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, MoST