Arnold Yung

This summer, eleven talented students are going above and beyond to pursuing their research interests abroad in Taiwan.

Last year, the Munk School of Global Affairs announced the creation of the Global Taiwan Studies Program. Supported by the Taiwan Department of Education and the Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Toronto, the program aims to studying Taiwan as a “dynamic” player in a “rapidly changing global context”. Seeing the need for students to not limit themselves in the classroom, the Program encourages “learning by doing” through offering funding to student-led research projects. Not only would recipients have the opportunity to travel to Taiwan, they can obtain firsthand experience doing professional research.

After a series of reviews and interviews, six outstanding student groups are awarded a total of 12,000 Dollars. Each of these projects are individually tailored and targeted at different topics and interests on Taiwan studies.

Taiwan’s unique political status formed an important component for three research projects. Inspired by their interests in identity politics, undergraduates Benjamin Alperstein and Joannie Fu are conducting a comparative analysis between Taiwan and Israel on the subjects of international status and recognition. PhD candidate Kevin Luo is researching legislative speeches, media publications and government archives in Taiwan to learn about democratization in Taiwan. Master of Global Affairs (MGA) graduates Atkinson and Michael Thomas are researching on Taiwan’s relations with China to find out how cross strait relations are affected by developments from Taiwan’s economy and the Trump administration.

On the other hand, two research projects have a strong interest on Taiwanese health policy. Undergraduates Nicole Mahadeo and Angela Hou are researching a sustainable method to improve Taiwanese aboriginal communities’ access to quality healthcare. Undergraduate student Jillian Sprenger is researching about Taiwan’s experiences in dealing with antimicrobial resistance by interviewing medical experts and government officials.

In particular, one research project focuses on Taiwan’s Migrant domestic workers (MDW). Graduate students Rinchen-Dolma Karma, Christine Martel-Fleming and Elena Lifshits Correra are researching hiring practices of MDWs. They intend to use their research to provide the Taiwanese government policy recommendations on improving the living situations of MDWs.

Not only are these projects full of creativity and innovation, they embodied the Munk School’s academic spirit. “The winning projects reflect genuine interest among our students in Taiwan and Taiwan studies.” said Professor Joseph Wong, Director of the program.

On why the projects were chosen, Professor Wong explains that they connect Taiwan studies to the world.  “Even more important, however, is how they understand Taiwan to be an integral part of the global community, global practices and ongoing debates that are truly global in scope. Whether it’s about trade and conflict, or the flows of migrant workers, or biomedical challenges. Taiwan’s issues are the world’s issues and that’s what is so special about the Global Taiwan Studies initiative at the Munk School of Global Affairs: engaging Taiwan through a global lens.”

The six groups will return to Toronto in the fall to present their findings. Professor Tong Lam will be the incoming Director for Global Taiwan and is looking forward to working with all the students in the upcoming year!