Professor Ryan Dunch (East Asian Studies) on Canada’s Need to Invest in Chinese Studies (University Affairs, 12 Dec. 2012)

“Canada’s future engagement with China requires a broad-based and stable infusion of resources, building up faculty strength and teaching capacity for the long term in the core areas of Chinese studies. This must start with strong language programs, adding classes on culture, history and contemporary society to that foundation . . . . Fixing the China knowledge deficit will cost money, for sure, but courses in language and culture are a bargain when compared to other demands on university budgets. We could double Canada’s current teaching capacity in Chinese studies by 2020 for under $30 million annually nationwide — as long as those funds are directed towards new faculty positions for early and mid-career scholars in Chinese studies. This is a very modest investment in the context of higher education budgets, equivalent to three of the 19 Canada Excellence Research Chairs the Harper government created in 2010.”

Extraordinary, isn’t it, that the usefulness of studying other cultures is something that our federal and provincial governments find so difficult to grasp even as they urge universities to adopt a skills-based approach to their teaching? It is even more extraordinary that they are so reluctant to invest in courses in our own languages and cultures.

Professor Dunch’s full article, “Canada is Facing a China Knowledge Deficit,” is here.

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