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Introduction

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Part Two:Educational Goals

Our department is the only sociology department at a public university in southern Taiwan. In order to integrate our department’s teaching and research characteristics and its contents, we decided to take “southern sociology” as our primary feature, and plan our curriculum design according to this principle.

The idea of southern sociology was proposed to address the following two phenomena:

1. The existing Taiwanese academic system is in a state of north-south imbalance concerning the production of knowledge.

2. The local sociological research should adopt a more  global vision and take the initiative in exchanging information with international academia.

To elaborate on our theme, the word “southern” has the following three meanings:

First of all, we are rooted in the geographical south. Such spatial closeness allows us to observe and participate in the local communities, to grasp the grassroots pulse of the southern society with more accuracy, and to more meaningfully document the social experiences which had been ignored in the past.

Secondly, our concern with southern society focuses on the disadvantaged in all kinds of imbalanced social power relations relating to social classes, ethnic groups, gender and so on. Sociology values these voices of this community not just in view of humanitarian care. More accurately speaking, we believe dominance results in resistance, the assembly and mobilization of all kinds of disadvantaged groups foreshadows the next wave of great social change.

Finally, we widen our horizons and look at the global south. In order to grasp an in-depth understanding of Taiwan’s geographical and social south, we must start from appreciating the fact that remains  part of the southern division of the world’s labor system. We rely on our hard-working people and continue to strive for the best.

The social outlook of Taiwan has been continuously shaped by external forces. Therefore, we can only locate the significance of Taiwan’s experience more precisely on the basis of such contextual understanding.

Our department’s educational goals:

1. To grasp the grassroots pulse of southern society and connect local and global development.

2. To foster social empathy among students, combine academic research and social practices, and develop public sociology.

3. To anticipate the next wave of great social change, lead social innovation and promote cultural conservation.

These three educational goals are guided by the three orientations of southern sociology, which are also our department’s orientations in curriculum planning:

First, the local orientation.

We hope to nurture students who care for the local society and can put the knowledge they learn into practice.

In terms of course design, we put emphasis on nurturing our students’ ability in investigating, researching, and solving local problems. By doing so, we aim to foster the students’ learning not just in the classroom, but also provide them with the ability to have profound interactions with the communities around them.

Therefore, in the required course for junior students, Social Survey, we have not only taught students how to conduct local field studies, but have also arranged a series of activities such as community wall painting, talks about local culture and history, temple fairs and pilgrimages, senior citizens’ fashion shows and so on. We hope to give back to the local community and to bond with the residents rather than unilaterally acquiring knowledge from them.

Second, the critical orientation.

We hope to foster the students’ abilities to reflect upon mainstream social values, to pay attention to various social issues, to think outside the box, to profoundly analyze all kinds of social phenomena, and to put what they have learned into practice in the society.

In our curriculum design, we have discarded the traditional, passive teaching methods. Instead, we encourage our students to establish their own point of view and a self-actualization ability, to take part in large symposiums, to publish essays at forums on current events, and to increase their participation in public debates.

Third, the global orientation.

We hope to develop our students’ global vision and give them an in-depth understanding of globalization that goes beyond the focus on superficial tourism and multinational corporations to also encompass the circulation and exchange of people from different societies.

In our curriculum design, we provide in-depth courses on various social and global phenomena which allow our students to truly grasp the development of globalization.

 

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