Big Ideas: Exploring Global Taiwan

Supporting outstanding student experiential research connected to Taiwan

Banner image with dark purple background. Text in white reads "Exploring Global" and beneath this "TAIWAN" is spelled out in photos of past participants. In the right bottom corner, text in white letters reads, "*Funded* Student Research + Travel Opportunities"

2023 Big Ideas Competition: Exploring Global Taiwan

Call for Applications

Applications Due: March 12, 2023, 11:59PM

Information Session & Application Workshop: March 1, 2023, 11:00AM-12:00PM

The Global Taiwan Studies Initiative’s Big Ideas Competition: Exploring Global Taiwan supports outstanding student experiential learning and research-related travel to Taiwan.

This year, Exploring Global Taiwan invites students to apply for a role in a small research team led by Professor Tong Lam, Director of the Global Taiwan Studies Initiative. We call on ALL U OF T STUDENTS (undergraduate and graduate across all 3 campuses) who want to connect classroom learning to fieldwork in Taiwan. *Please find details about the project theme and activities below.

Awarded students will be FUNDED to travel to Taiwan for approximately 7-10 days in early June 2023 while conducting research on this Professor-led project. Awardees gain direct research experience on a creative scholarly project with an expert in the field and have the opportunity to meet with academics, students, activists, and artists in Taiwan. Students will meaningfully shape the outcomes of the project and will also be required to complete a short written report (template provided).

In addition to a uniquely immersive and supported research experience, Exploring Global Taiwan students form a dynamic peer group. Students receive academic and professional development training, cultivating all the tools necessary for a successful Exploring Global Taiwan experience.

Exploring Global Taiwan will culminate with a public showcase of research outcomes in September 2023. 

Selected students will receive an award of approximately $3 000.


Any Questions?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Shannon Garden-Smith (she/her), Research Coordinator, Rm 103N – North House, 1 Devonshire Place

2023 Project

Global Frontline Reimagined

Not unlike today, Taiwan was a frontline of global tensions during the Cold War. In fact, at some points in the 1950s, artillery fire was part of the everyday reality for residents in Kinmen, a small archipelago of Taiwanese islands on the Chinese side of the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, just as Taiwan has been caught up in geopolitical struggles between rival power blocs, Kinmen itself has been caught up in the ever-evolving tension between the two sides of the Strait. Since Kinmen is just a few kilometers from the Chinese coast, if a military assault from China is ever launched, it will likely be the first place to fall. Yet, paradoxically, the war-torn and battle-ready Kinmen today is also the most pro-Beijing constituency of Taiwan, which has become a vibrant democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.

In this experimental and interdisciplinary project, we will venture into this very frontline of global tensions and study the human and nonhuman worlds of Kinmen. Instead of focusing on daily sightings of Chinese fighter jets and loud media talking heads, we will hear stories from locals. We will also listen to the dead engines of the rusting tanks half buried on the beach. We will study the history of empires against the grain and against the backdrop of the ubiquitous presence of anti-landing barricades. We will explore the ruins of the monumental reinforced concrete structure used to house Taiwan’s anti-China loudspeakers, and we will inspect the seawall designed to resist typhoons and the rising sea level rather than amphibious assaults.

Students will prepare for fieldwork by completing readings, participating in discussions, and contributing to knowledge sharing sessions (for example on photo/video/audio recording or other skills). The research group will spend several days on the main island of Taiwan and several days on Kinmen. Selected students will engage in group activities, including visits to notable sites and with local students, scholars, artists, activists etc. Students will engage in primary research, gathering ecological data and qualitative data (through interviews, field notes, and photo, video, and audio recordings). After completing fieldwork, the team will analyze their findings and produce a creative project deliverable, drawing on team member skills. We welcome applications from students in the humanities, social sciences, biological and natural sciences, engineering and architecture faculties, and so on. The selected group will be comprised of undergraduate and graduate students.


Exploring Global Taiwan is open to undergraduate and graduate students across all three University of Toronto campuses.

How to Apply?

Please complete this form by 11:59PM EST, March 12, 2023.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications are reviewed by a committee of Asian Institute faculty, using the criteria below.


  • Student demonstrates competencies necessary to undertake the project and exceptional research capabilities relative to their stage of study

Impact of Award

  • Significance of the award opportunity for the student’s academic/professional/personal development

Quality of engagement with research theme

  • Student proposes compelling research question(s) relevant to the project theme
2023 Timeline
  • Call for Student Applications Announced

February 1

  • Information Session & Application Workshop

RSVP to attend

11AM, March 1, Rm 108N-North House, 1 Devonshire Place

  • Applications Due

11:59PM, March 12

  • Award Decisions Announced

March 31

  • Research Ethics and Methods Workshop
  • Safety Abroad Workshop
  • Students Complete Safety Abroad Requirements


  • Fieldwork preparation: readings, discussions, and knowledge sharing sessions


  • Monthly Virtual Cohort Meetings


  • Field Research

Early June

  • Presenting Research Workshop
  • Research Deliverable (as decided by the team) & Short Written Report Due (template provided)


Late August

  • Public Presentation of Research Outcomes



Previous Exploring Global Taiwan Cycles

2022 Exploring Global Taiwan Projects

Working together in small, focused teams, awarded students receive funding to conduct research on a professor-led project over the summer semester, gaining direct research experience on a major scholarly project with an expert in the field. 

Awardees form a dynamic peer group and receive academic and professional development training. We support students in developing all the tools necessary for a successful experience—from submitting an initial application to presenting research outcomes and beyond.

Exploring Global Taiwan culminates with a public showcase of research outcomes.

Professions and Politics in Taiwan and Hong Kong
  • Faculty Lead: Professor Sida Liu
  • Pui Kwan Pamela Tsui, Sociology (Ph.D.)
  • Joonsik Kim, Sociology (Ph.D.) Suyu Yao, Sociology, East Asian Studies
  • Chun Yin Ng, Political Science, Economic
  • Yuet Ottica Chong, International Relations, Economics, Contemporary Asian Studies
  • Tat Chi Thomas Yue, Contemporary Asian Studies, History
  • Chin Wen Alan Fan, Political Science, Ethics, Society & Law
  • Liuxi Wu, Sociology, Political Science Isabel Li, Sociology
  • Isabel Li, Sociology

In May 2022, Professor Sida Liu led a group of nine students to work on the Big Ideas project “Professions and Politics in Taiwan and Hong Kong.” The research project examined the political participation of professional groups, such as doctors, lawyers, and journalists, in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and research tasks included the collection and analysis of archival and web-based data on the professional backgrounds and career trajectories of politicians and government officials in both societies.

The students were divided into two teams: a Taiwan team and a Hong Kong team, each of which was led by a graduate student lead and included 3-4 undergraduate students. The Taiwan team researched the biographies and career histories of Taiwanese doctors who pursued a political career in the Legislative Yuan from the 1990s to the present. The Hong Kong team focused on the histories of professional associations in Hong Kong and how each association responded to major political events since 1997. Both teams completed their research work smoothly and the two teams met on a weekly basis to report the findings to each other and to Professor Liu. Professor Liu will continue to work with some of the Big Ideas students in the 2022-2023 academic year to further develop the two lines of research under this project.

The “Salvation of Women in China” as an Anti-Communist Agenda ​

This project examined the official publication of the National Women’s League of the Republic of China (ROC) - Women’s Friend (婦友) in the 1950s and 60s. Drawing on this periodical, we analyzed how the National Women’s League of ROC rallied women in Taiwan in support of the Kuomintang (KMT)’s antiChinese communist agenda in the cold war era. Specifically, we focussed on the notion of “salvation of women in China” (解救⼤陸婦⼥同胞), the image of ideal women in Taiwan, and the relationship between the KMT and editorial board of Women’s Friend. Throughout the summer, the research team of one graduate and two undergraduate students worked with Professor Hsiung. The team met by Zoom before and after undertaking three phases of the research, which included digitizing and categorizing selected publications from the periodical Women’s Friend, analyzing selected articles, and compiling scholarly work on related topics. Student researchers collectively scanned and saved selected articles to a shared folder, organized into four subcategories– advocacy/propaganda, women in Taiwan, women in China, and others. Subsequently, student researchers used NVivo to conduct a preliminary qualitative analysis on selected articles, with each team member coding two articles. During the zoom meeting, members of the research team compared their codes and discussed similarities and differences in coding and interpretation. Finally, student researchers worked with K-Lee Frasher, a research librarian at UTSC, conducting a literature search on the main research topics. The project concluded with team members writing a reflection on their learning experiences.

2020 Exploring Global Taiwan Projects

Yao-Chi City: A Case Study on Taiwanese Paranormal Literature and Contemporary Art
  • Wanwen (Cordelia) Chen, East Asian Studies

Despite the fact that Taiwan’s traditional culture is filled with gods and sprits, the island doesn’t have much in the way of a yaoguai culture. However, it is not the case that Taiwan has no fantastical creatures. Rather, Taiwanese yaoguai culture has always been underplayed, hidden in the shadow of China’s Classic of Mountains and Seas and Japan’s Hyakki Yagyō. Just as Taiwan’s history has been closely entangled in China’s and Japan’s relationships, Taiwan’s history of fantastical creatures is intimately intertwined with Chinese and Japanese mythology. Such a strong affinity hinders researchers from tracing the origin of each tale, therefore leaving Taiwan’s fantastical terrain largely untouched. However, in recent years, Taiwan has undergone a “monstrous” renaissance, with fictions like Witch Way, illustrations like Stories of Deities from 21 Taiwan, films such as Abandoned Temple, and even mobile games like Urban Legend Adventurers. Through interjecting themselves into contemporary, earthly affairs, Taiwanese demonology permeates Taiwan’s uniquely odd psychogeographic landscape, an abnormal mental barrier. By doing so it provides a great way to investigate Taiwanese identity and culture.

My research will contribute to “Yao-Chi City”, a Taiwanese Paranormal Literature and Contemporary Art Exhibition. It is the first platform in Taiwan to identify the intersection of contemporary art and literature and the appreciation of Taiwanese Yao-Chi mythology and beliefs. This study will explore the horror genre in Taiwan through related works of literature and art, graphic novels, installations, performances games, and parades. Additionally, the ultimate purpose of this study does not only present the methods and theories of how these artists amalgamate traditional folk beliefs with Taiwan’s urban framework, but also investigates questions of national identity explored by these works.

The role of Indonesian domestic care workers in Taiwanese society
  • Kana Bak, Pranav Dayanand, Angelah Liu, and Jielun (Alan) Zheng (Contemporary Asian Studies)

Our project is an in-depth view into the mechanisms that characterize the experiences of Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan. Our study focuses about migrant workers in Taiwan and the role they play in wider domestic study. Using a variety of peer-reviewed literature, surveys, and social media, we compiled some findings that hopefully shed some light on the positions of Indonesian domestic care workers and their experiences in Taiwan. Our study delves into much of the pre-existing literature on Indonesian domestic care workers in Taiwan and the historic context that played a role in their position today. We supplement these materials with surveys on wider Taiwanese public opinion on these migrant workers as well as an in depth look at the heavy presence of Indonesian TikTok users for insight into their daily lives.

Marriage Anxiety: Citizen Production, Exclusion and Taiwan’s LGBTQ
  • Thomas Elias Siddall (International Relations and Contemporary Asian Studies)

This work explores how the Taiwanese state has anxiously secured a dynamic sociopolitical regime with its citizens that have enabled same-sex marriage by learning from the biopolitics around cross-border marriage. Under a global “progressive” neoliberal rights regime, crossborder migrants in Taiwan are actively marginalized while the LGBTQ in Taiwan become a hallmark of progress; both bodies reproduce essentialized values in Taiwan. I make use of family-state discourse analysis, work with imitation and queer Marxist theory, and read tongzhi wenxue and the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements (2010) as ideology and society as text to consider the construction of Taiwanese subjectivities and the necessity to construct bodies in specific ways. This work contributes to the immense literature on cross-border marriage and of the Taiwanese developmental state to explore how 22 biopolitics disciplines sexuality as a resource in global contexts to signify Taiwan’s belonging in a community of Western nations, and by making use of Butler’s use of imitation it demonstrates how the LGBTQ imitation of heteronormative subject position simultaneously constructs the limits of Taiwanese citizenship. In sum, this work finds that there is a dynamic relationship between the state and its subjects and that the state makes its subjects knowable based on access to services. This piece finds that the LGBTQ in Taiwan follows a developmental model of construction and is a step away from queer activism in Taiwan before democratization. Finally, this work finds that law works as an intermediary for biopolitics.


Cooking My Way Through Taiwan: Historical Lessons Through Dessert
  • Stephanie Tai (City Studies, International Development, and Anthropology)

Tempting Formosa: A Taiwanese Cookbook is an insight into the traditional desserts offered in Taiwan with accompanying recipes that tell the story of the nation rich with culinary history. The cookbook looks to shine a spotlight on Taiwanese desserts that are not well-known internationally, as told through stories of colonial influences, modern innovation, and the evolution of the contemporary Taiwanese palette.

Tempting Formosa is not only a history lesson on Taiwan, it also serves as a medium for hands-on interaction that connects the cuisine with a global audience looking to broaden their culinary horizons as food continues to represent the improved awareness and preservation of global cultures and heritage. As the cookbook takes you on a journey of the island’s beloved desserts, the idea of what we know as Taiwanese food should widen to allow for an anthropological look into what makes a country’s cuisine distinguishable. So, enjoy the whiffs of butter and sugar that magically materialize out of the air as you flip through the pages, and let Tempting Formosa act as your guide on this Taiwanese culinary exploration.

On the Transnational Migration of Vietnamese Women: Creating a Sense of Place within Taiwan’s Urban and Domestic Environment
  • Miranda Fay, Phat Le, Sidney Tsao (John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, Masters of Architecture Candidates)

Throughout the island’s history, Taiwan’s national identity has been a topic of contestation. This research aims to document Taiwan's shifting demographics in the modern era; specifically, the influx of Vietnamese migrants into Taiwan - of which are predominantly female. These women often adopt roles as care-takers, foreign brides, or small business owners in search of economic growth and stability. Sociologists recognize this phenomenon as the ‘feminization of migration’ (Hugo, 2005) which describes the challenges that migrant women face in attempts of assimilation; including conflicting cultural norms, lack of social capital, or exploitative marriage arrangements. Building on research discussing the politics of space (Lefebvre,1974) and the contributions of the built environment to a sense of place (Stedman, 2003), this research asks: in what ways have Vietnamese women created identity and agency for themselves through physical interventions of space within Taiwan’s urban and domestic landscape? Using online documentation- such as articles, websites, and social media posts- and a series of architectural and urban drawings as methods of analysis, the research is meant to record and map evidence of these Vietnamese spaces - ie. homes and restaurants - and how they have been used to establish autonomy and cultural representation for the Vietnamese community.

2019 Exploring Global Taiwan Projects

The Referendum 
  • Adam Zivokinovic (“Zivo”) (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy) 

  • Ji Chen (Tony) Yin (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy) 

The Referendum is a documentary about Taiwan’s 2018 referendum on marriage equality. Triggered by a constitutional court ruling that ordered the government to amend its marriage laws, the referendum saw voters reject marriage equality. This documentary explores how the referendum happened, who was involved, and what they believed. The documentary contextualizes the issue within a larger conversation on the global acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights. It consists of interviews cut with archival footage, news clips, TV clips, and b-roll footage shot in Taipei, and takes a sensitive and nuanced view of both sides of the debate. 

Through our research, we found that the anti marriage equality groups have a much more nuanced approach to LGBTQ+ issues than we previously imagined. While their beliefs can be partially attributed to hostility to LGBTQ+ folks, their stance is complicated by underlying disagreements on the nature of government. We also observed that the spread of information through mass media and social media played a pivotal role in swaying the result of the referendum. Furthermore, we found that Taiwanese religious organizations played a vital role in the referendum, essentially forming the backbone of anti-LGBTQ+ groups. 

The Everyday Politics of LGBTQ Minorities in Taiwan: Discrimination, Legalization, and Community 
  • Anson Au (Department of Sociology; Department of Chinese Literature, Joint Appointment, National Sun Yat-Sen University) 

On May 17, 2019, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage, the first society to do so in all of Asia. Despite pundits’ celebration of the decision as a sign of liberal progression, the legalization appears at odds with the results of recent major referendums that show a majority of the Taiwanese population opposes pro-LGBTQ+ values, following a steady pattern of declining tolerance for LGBTQ+ minorities in Taiwan. To make sense of this conundrum, this article conducts a qualitative study of LGBTQ+ minorities and activists to interrogate experiences of discrimination in LGBTQ+ minorities’ everyday lives. I analyze the latent forms of discrimination in the tensions and politics of navigating between expression and censorship in the family and the workplace, how legalization exacerbates rather than alleviates these forms of discrimination, and how pro-LGBTQ+ organizations protect LGBTQ+ minorities and accordingly develop recommendations for public policy. This genre of everyday politics across the family and workplace alike bears emphasis in order to foreground patterns of political participation and of mental health problems that continue to disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ minorities. 

Exhibiting In-justices: Human Rights Discourses in Taiwan’s Recent Redress Efforts 
  • Sabrina Teng-io Chung (PhD student, Department of East Asian Studies) 

In December 2017, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice and the Organizational Act of the National Human Rights Museum, both of which serve as landmark legislation, enabling state-directed efforts to redress historical wrongs and injustice perpetuated during the nation’s authoritarian era—a period juridically defined as spanning from 15 August 1945 when the Japanese empire collapsed, to 6 November 1992, the lifting of the Martial Law on Taiwan’s offshore islands. Despite concerns regarding this new wave of redress efforts’ unwillingness to tackle past and ongoing forms of injustice related to the legacies of Japanese imperialism and Han settler colonialism in Taiwan, the establishment of the Transitional Justice Committee and National Human Rights Museum in 2018 (a year that also marked the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), institutionally effectuated a proliferation of teleological accounts celebrating Taiwan’s transition from a divided, conflictual nation to a post-violent one. 

This project takes Taiwan’s recent redress efforts not so much as the ideological and institutional markers of democratic progress but entry points from which a genealogical inquiry can be made about how ideas of justice, the human and its rights are contested, codified, and negotiated. It offers a close examination of past and current exhibition practices related to Taiwan’s 228 Incident and the following White Terror, practices whose epistemological and affective frames of reference are arguably closely intertwined with the Cold War and post-Cold War historical and institutional conditions of knowledge production. By attending to the ways in which the Taiwanese state’s multiple efforts to redress historical injustices have been enabled yet contained within such structures of power/knowledge, this project seeks to call forward a reconceptualization of ideas of justice as that which is yet-to- come, irreducible to the teleological and therapeutic terms of human rights discourses.

Hsieh-piao and The Politics of Personalization in Taiwan 
  • Yiwei Jin (MA student, Department of Political Science) 

In Taiwan, most candidates for public office go on a tour to personally thank voters after elections conclude. This tour is called hsieh-piao (謝票), a practice that has existed in Taiwan for almost 70 years. My research project tries to understand why the practice continues to thrive in Taiwan. Based on archival and survey-generated data, I argue that hsieh-piao in Taiwan today is a product of personalized voter-politician relationships—relationships built over repeated personal interactions. In these relationships, a positive impression of the candidate is established over a long period of time across many interactions, and hsieh-piao plays a major role in this process. However, not all voters relate to politicians in such a way. In fact, I found that the majority of voters do not think much of hsieh-piao. Politicians, while aware of the fact that most voters do not care about hsieh-piao, nevertheless perform it. Some are worried about losing support from voters for whom hsieh-piao is important, and some also see hsieh-piao as intrinsically meaningful. 

Read Jin Yiwei’s article “The Art of Thanking in Taiwan’s Elections” in the Taiwan Gazette here.  

Anti-death Penalty Efforts in Taiwan 
  • Niki C Yang (Criminology) 

  • Celina B. Servanez (Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, graduate department) 

  • Sohrab Naderi (Political Science and Criminology) 

Our team sought to research why Taiwan has retained the death penalty despite being a developed country with modern liberal democratic norms. To this end, we conducted interviews with individuals familiar with anti-death penalty efforts in Taiwan—mainly volunteers and executive members of two major reform organizations, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) and the Judicial Reform Foundation (JRF). Our research reveals that Taiwan’s retention of the death penalty is related to systematic issues suffusing Taiwan’s criminal justice system as a whole. We found that support for capital punishment is part of a feedback loop wherein societal, affective reactions to high-profile cases influence court decisions and vice versa. Such support is largely passive and normative not for any cultural-specific reason, but due to widespread belief in the idea of retribution as “justice.” We conclude that NGOs like TAEDP and JRF are inherently radical by the very fact that they recognize and give voice to a sector of society whose silence and disposability is otherwise the norm. 

2018 Exploring Global Taiwan Projects

OP Asian Gamer: Work and Play in Taipei’s Esports Industry 
  • Jordan Ali (Department of Geography and Planning) 

  • Fay Lin (Department of English; Diaspora and Transnational Studies) 

Taipei inhabits a transnational site of productive friction as a result of decisive investment from the Californian game industry-giant, Blizzard, alongside condemnations of video games in both national and international media. “Gaming” itself has been at the center of debate surrounding anxieties of time-wasting, productivity, and male youth arriving into increasingly competitive labour markets. On the one hand, gaming seems a useless form of virtual leisure, while on the other it rewards skilled players with lucrative professional contracts. This raises questions about the centrality of Taiwan and Taiwanese gamers in the future of the global eSports industry. 

For our research project, we explore the tensions surrounding gaming and eSports by applying a spatial analysis of sites across Taipei that, though seemingly different in function, allow us to reconsider the taken-for-granted spaces through which an eSports landscape forms: Taipei’s internet cafes, electronics retail centres, and the Blizzard eSports Arena. Initially these three gamespaces seem connected exclusively to the realm of play. However, in visiting and observing the social exchanges in these spaces, and the spaces themselves, we discovered that gaming presents the unique ability to collapse work and play into an ambiguous set of practices that can commodify, commercialize, or reimagine gamespaces as capable of both productivity and leisure, troubling discourses that designate mutually exclusive spaces for binaries of ‘work’ and ‘play.’ 

Indigenous History in Taiwan’s National Museums 
  • Natalie Bell (MA in East Asian Studies/Collaborative MA in Contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies) 

Through interviews and field research at museums in Taiwan, I examined the role indigenous history plays in what Benedict Anderson refers to as “national biography” and how that role is changing. As recognition of an indigenous past in Taiwan carries the connotation of an alternative to the previously China-focused Guomindang (KMT) supported national narrative, the increasing representation of indigenous histories in national museums reflects a political recognition of non-Chinese ancestry. Museums in Taiwan appear to be moving away from decontextualized presentations of indigenous groups as a remote past, unchanging and separated from wider Taiwanese history, to a presentation of Taiwan itself as diverse, incorporating indigenous histories into presentations of immigrant history, and giving indigenous groups an active voice in historical events. Museums are also increasingly collaborating with indigenous groups to develop exhibitions. At first glance, new exhibits and academic support for these changes seem to draw an important connection between diversity and democracy, reflecting transformations in Taiwanese politics since 1971. This change may not reflect Taiwanese political changes solely but is also the result of academic pressures on worldwide trends in museum presentations of indigenous peoples. 

Taiwan in Transition: Towards Sustainable Innovation 
  • Siobhan Bradley (Munk School of Global Affairs, MGA) 

  • Ayesha Bery (Munk School of Global Affairs, MGA) 

  • Pemasal Banigan (Munk School of Global Affairs, MGA) 

In an effort to maintain global competitiveness, Taiwan has begun to transition to a knowledge-based economy. In tandem with this transition, the Taiwanese government has launched an ambitious plan to become the Silicon Valley of Asia, focused on fostering innovation, an entrepreneurship ecosystem, an improved education system, and various national policy initiatives. However, Taiwan’s human capital issues–specifically its talent deficit and brain drain–pose questions regarding Taiwan’s ability to maintain its status as an innovation powerhouse. Our research project investigates Taiwan’s talent deficit and the sustainability of Taiwan’s innovation plan. Following qualitative research with industry leaders, government officials, innovation hubs, and entrepreneurs, our research team gained diverse perspectives on the Asia Silicon Valley Development Plan (ASVDP) and Taiwan’s innovation landscape more broadly. The main conclusion we drew from interviews and research is that while the ASVDP is an ambitious plan seeking to transition Taiwan’s innovation economy from hardware manufacturing to the Internet of Things (IoT) while bolstering the start-up landscape in Taiwan, the direct effects of the plan are misguided and unclear. Based on desk and field research, we concluded Taiwan should focus on a niche innovation area, deregulation, and supporting entrepreneurs. We consolidated our research into an editorial piece that will be shared with the Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency (ASVDA), interview partners, and the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. 

Desire for Gender and Sexual Egalitarianism at Work: Taiwanese Lesbian Workplace Discrimination
  • Hai-Wen Chen (Arts and Science) 

  • Michelle Lee (Arts and Science) 

LGBTQ communities in Taiwan continue to experience upward mobility, with recent legislative changes in same-sex marriage representing the most significant positive breakthrough for LGBTQ representation in mainstream society. Yet research shows that predominant Confucian-Patriarchal ideologies continue to make LGBTQ integration challenging. Among these issues, workplace discrimination is understudied in existing literature. Using our academic expertise and LGBTQ networks within Taiwan, we researched workplace discrimination experienced by lesbian Taiwanese women and whether recent legislative changes have had any discursive social impact in professional work environments. Overall, it seems that current legislation regulating workplace conduct focuses mostly on addressing gender-based discrimination rather than that of sexual-orientation, and regardless of legislation it seems the enforcement of such workplace protections is still lacking in many aspects. In addition, workplace discrimination is experienced differently depending on gender performativity, especially how effeminate women present themselves in the work environment. In response to this, individual women often attempt to be selective about the workplace environments they apply to, rather than addressing the issue directly through legal action or explicit confrontation with their employers. Our paper explores the ideological and legal issues motivating such outcomes. 

Roadside Geology of Taiwan   
  • Stephanie Chen (Department of Earth Sciences) 

This project is a close-up field survey of the geology of various regions of Taiwan. I visited select areas of Taiwan and collected rock samples to further analyze in Toronto. I compared these findings to current literature, most of which is decades old. I seek for this project to expose discrepancies between new and old research and to encourage more research in certain areas lacking in the literature. I assembled my findings in a guide book to the geology of Taiwan, titled “Roadside Geology of Taiwan: A Field Guide.” 

Taiwan, Dunhuang and The New York World’s Fair 1964-1965: The Afterlife of James and Lucy Lo’s Archive 
  • Shasha Liu (East Asian Studies)

Focusing on the Dunhuang mural copying activities based on the James and Lucy Lo’s archive in Taiwan in the 1950s and the display of the Dunhuang copies in the New York World’s Fair 1964-65, I conducted research in Taipei in institutions like the National Museum of History, Academia Sinica (Taipei and Xindian), and National Central Library. I collected valuable primary materials from the Taiwanese Dunhuang copying activity also learning that it is part of a larger project to reconstruct cultural heritage in Taiwan in the aforementioned museum. By studying the archive of the fair, I was also able to piece together the participation process of the Dunhuang mural copies and to better understand the negotiations between Taiwan and the US in terms of selecting Chinese art treasures. The textual materials I collected at the library further helped me to get a more complete picture of the perception of the Dunhuang art in Taiwan around the mid-20th century, compensating for the lack of information in the above archives. The archival research I conducted in Taiwan assists me in analyzing how the Dunhuang mural copies based on the Lo’s archive contribute to the reconstruction of cultural heritage in Taiwan and the Taiwanese endeavors to connect to the world with the imagined Dunhuang tradition. 

The Experience of Latin American and Caribbean Higher Education Students in Taiwan 
  • Adriana Marroquin Rodriguez (MEd Higher Education, Comparative, International and Development Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) 

This study explores the experiences of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) higher education students in Taiwan: what motivates them to go to Taiwan, the challenges they face, and how they cope with these issues. I collected data via semi-structured interviews of eleven students pursuing bachelor’s degrees. I identified the following three major challenges: language, academic, and sociocultural issues, and identified an open mind, support groups, and resourcefulness as the main coping strategies. I used the findings and participant suggestions to create a list of recommendations for new and current students.  The results also highlight future research that should be performed as well as implications for funding organizations, universities, professors, and local students to better support international students. 

Knowledge Attitudes and Beliefs on Organ Donation and Transplantation in Taiwanese Cities 
  • Jonathan Wang (BSc Candidate, Faculty of Arts and Science; Research Trainee, Multi-Organ Transplant, Toronto General Hospital) 

  • Derrick Lin (BSc Candidate, Faculty of Arts and Science; Research Trainee, Multi-Organ Transplant, Toronto General Hospital) 

Through our research we aim to understand the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs that may prevent people in Taiwanese cities from donating organs for transplantation and promote organ donation awareness in Taiwan. We held discussions with family members of deceased donors and hosted a discussion forum with representatives from Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center (TORSC) to promote organ donation awareness. We used a survey tool to investigate attitudes and beliefs on organ donation and transplantation (ODT). We surveyed adults by random sampling at public venues and by chain-referral sampling from an agribusiness company. 

The discussion forum with TORSC sparked a sustained collaboration with the investigators. Approximately half (50.5%) of people surveyed knew how to register to become organ donors, but only 13.3% had registered. Those who had misconceptions about the organ donation process were less likely to support organ donation. These respondents were misinformed about the laws and general concepts of ODT including believing that donors receive worse medical care and the rich are preferentially transplanted. Further research can address these issues with novel hypotheses and evaluate government initiatives to educate the Taiwanese public. 

Decentralized Identities and Cultural Production in Taiwan 
  • Aaron Wytze Wilson (MGA Candidate, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy) 

“Taiwanese nationalism” has been out of the press since former president Chen Shui-bian stepped down. However, the movement migrated online, where ideas of nationalism and independence could compete equally on social media news feeds. Over the course of the Ma Ying-jeou presidency, the state tried to reinvigorate the old state symbols of the ROC. This allowed Taiwan’s cyber-nationals to create their own state symbols unopposed, and led to the creation of crowdsourced national symbols that reflect concepts of an independent state of Taiwan. What does this new cyber-nationalism mean for Taiwan-China relations, and where will this new movement go next? 

Agriculture 4.0 in Taiwan: The Disconnect Between Farmers and Service Providers 
  • Yu Hsuan Amy Yang (Master of Science, Sustainability Management) 

Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture is seeking to improve Taiwan’s agricultural productivity through precision agriculture technologies. To explore the current state of precision agriculture in Taiwan and to understand some of the barriers and incentives that farmers and technology developers face, I conducted semi-structured interviews with two members from Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, five farmers, one member from academia, and seven technology developers to explore various barriers and incentives in the adoption of precision agriculture in Taiwan. I found that a farmer’s age, financial cost, and the inability to see how these new technologies can improve upon existing farming practices are the main barriers for farmers and lack of access to quality, publicly available data is the main barrier for technology developers. Other themes that emerged are that Taiwan needs to develop precision agriculture technologies to suit the needs of its unique agricultural landscape rather than simply improving upon foreign technologies and that farmers see more value in having access to a steady distribution channel than owning precision agriculture technologies. Possible solutions that the government could consider based on these findings are to improve public access to higher quality data, focus its efforts on locally developed technologies and look into linking precision agriculture with improved distribution channels as an incentive for farmers to adopt precision agriculture technologies. 

Yu Hsuan Amy Yang published her research as an article in the Taiwan Gazette. Read the article here.  

Areas of focus - Victor Dementiev/Unsplash



Research Coordinator, Asian Institute