Please scroll down for the English version – UNNC academic participates in 2022 THE Liberal Arts Forum
UNNC academic participates in 2022 THE Liberal Arts Forum
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China’s (UNNC) Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Dr K. Cohen Tan, recently attended the 2022 Times Higher Education (THE) Liberal Arts Forum as a speaker. Dr Tan was one of the university leaders in Asia invited to explore and discuss the positive impacts of a Liberal Arts Education. Dr Tan participated in the forum under the theme, “A vehicle for change: The role of liberal arts in promoting sustainable development”.
Dr Tan shared in his speech that academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and UNNC’s founding President, Professor Yang Fujia, has consistently advocated for a liberal arts education and was one of the prime movers in creating the Alliance of Asian Liberal Arts Universities (AALAU). Dr Tan highlighted that although UNNC did not offer a traditional Liberal Arts programme structure, we have always had small seminar sizes that facilitate free discussion and collaboration, and we also know from our experience that “students value contact over content, just as employers value skills over knowledge”.
Dr Tan referred to the University of Nottingham’s White Paper on the Future of Education which identified both relationship-building and sense of belonging as key to the student journey. He said, “we recognise that learning is fundamentally a social activity”. He also highlighted UNNC’s personal tutoring system to assign academic mentor to each student to serve as a guide or interlocutor throughout their student journey to build that sense of relationship and create a community of learners, which he argued is “the hallmark of American Liberal Arts Colleges”. Additionally, just as the SDG for Education lists cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional domains to be developed, the UoN White Paper highlights research and academic skills, professional competencies, and leadership qualities as key learning outcomes to future-proof our graduates.
Finally, Dr Tan pointed out that University of Nottingham’s vision is “to offer an education that is more than a degree”, and he said that “we accomplish this by embedding university values to shape an imagined community of learners where students are empowered and confident to exercise their agency of will and independence of mind on a lifelong journey of self-discovery”. In other words, UNNC pursues the spirit but not necessarily the letter of the modern paradigm of Liberal Arts Education, since “we should not dogmatically insist there is only one royal road to freedom”. For Liberal Arts Education to flourish within Asian universities, Dr Tan said that university leaders need to “take into account the rich diversity while respecting the cultural heritage of different Asian societies that collectively form the overlapping horizons of our experience so that we may bring about a positive change in furthering mutual understanding and tolerance”. In Dr Tan’s view, that is the value of liberal arts education in promoting sustainable and peaceful development in the region.