Travel Grant Supports Student Research in Taiwan

Posted: February 26, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: February 25, 2010 at 4:37 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

Through a five-year grant provided by Mason’s Center for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (CAPEC), students have the opportunity to travel to Taiwan to work on research projects, capstone courses or independent studies with a focus on the East Asian island.

In its second year, the Taiwan Studies Research Travel Grant supports students in the arts, humanities and social sciences. The grant is sponsored by the Cultural Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. Multiple awards of $2,500 each will be given to students enrolled in George Mason University.

“This grant is important because it offers students the opportunity to combine theoretical research with fieldwork. It also encourages students to take charge of their own learning and planning,” says Cheryl Choy, associate director of CAPEC. “It also enhances students’ knowledge about the history, society, language and culture of Taiwan.”

Students choose a faculty mentor to help guide them through their research projects. Some of the faculty who assisted students last year include John Paden, Robinson Professor of International Affairs and co-director of CAPEC; Yuen Liu, co-director of CAPEC; Jeng-Eng Lin, associate professor of mathematical sciences; Carma Hinton, Robinson Professor of Visual and Chinese Studies; Wenyen Chen, adjunct professor of history; and Choy.

The grant gives each student the opportunity to explore resources in Taiwan. This may include, but is not limited to, archives and libraries; historical sites; museums, art galleries and exhibits; performances; government agencies; nonprofit organizations; businesses; and experts, professors, scholars or individuals who contribute to the student’s research area.

Joshua Owens, a senior with a double major in economics and government and international politics, recently returned from Taiwan. During his two-week trip, he stayed in an international hostel called The Cat’s Pajamas, which is located in the capital city of Taipei.

Owens’ research involved Taiwanese governmental intervention in the economy. Specifically, he focused on the tea industry and the measures that are being taken to foster development and competitiveness. In addition to policy prescriptions, he was interested in determining the Taiwanese attitudes toward government’s role in industry.

“Although I had never been to Taiwan or East Asia, I found it to be a very friendly culture and [the trip] greatly aided my research objectives,” says Owen. “It was extremely beneficial to be able to sit down with academics, researchers, executives of big and small businesses, a member of parliament and the tea farmers themselves to get their take on the situation.”

Just as Owens did, students who travel to Taiwan will live in international hostels and are able to meet students from around the world. Because the travel grant does not have a determined schedule, students can work independently.

In addition, the grant funds two courses:

  • History of Taiwan (HIST 387 – 004), which explores the history and people of Taiwan and the historical factors that led to its complex situation as a nation.
  • Major Chinese Writers (CHIN 325 – 001), which explores the work of several major Taiwanese writers.

Those interesting in applying for summer 2010 should visit the CAPEC web site. The application deadline is April 1.

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