Scholars expect to revolutionalise understanding of Việt Nam

July 28, 2022 - 18:55
Top scholars from Columbia University today presented prospects for the burgeoning field of Vietnamese Studies at a conference in Hà Nội, titled “Understand the Past - Transform the Future.”


John Phan, Assistant Professor of Vietnamese Humanities, delivers a presentation about the Vietnamese Studies programme at Columbia University. VNS Photo Thu Vân

HÀ NỘI  - Top scholars from Columbia University today presented prospects for the burgeoning field of Vietnamese Studies at a conference in Hà Nội titled "Understand the Past - Transform the Future."

The conference featured Columbia faculty, including members of the Columbia Vietnamese Studies programme, alumni, partners, and colleagues in Việt Nam. It was also attended by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hà Kim Ngọc and US Ambassador to Việt Nam Marc Knapper.

In 2017, Columbia University, one of the eight "Ivy League" schools in the US, launched a Vietnamese studies programme aimed at helping young people not only from the United States but from around the world learn more about Việt Nam.

The programme was initiated by two full-time faculty dedicated to Vietnamese Studies: Lien Hang Nguyễn, Dorothy Borg, Professor in the History of the United States and East Asia, and John Phan, Assistant Professor of Vietnamese Humanities. They are joined by instructors Phương Chung Nguyễn and Vinh Quốc Nguyễn, who teach the Vietnamese language at all levels.

Speaking at the seminar, speakers highlight the importance of the study of Việt Nam at Columbia, citing Việt Nam's geostrategic significance, its growing economic strength, and opportunities for developing future partnerships in higher education between Việt Nam and Columbia.

John Phan, Assistant Professor of Vietnamese Humanities, said Việt Nam has transformed over the past few decades, and global interest in Việt Nam has transformed accordingly.

"Meanwhile, new research into Vietnamese language, literature, history, and culture has burst beyond the confines of traditional knowledge and approaches," he said.

Phan said Columbia's Vietnamese Studies programme was a vision defined by a deep engagement with contemporary Vietnamese cultures and societies and a commitment to educating the world about Việt Nam's relevance to all fields of study.

The core faculty has designed an extensive curriculum on Việt Nam, offering both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. For the undergraduate programme, students will be provided with a two-semester course introducing Vietnamese civilization, covering history, archaeology, literation, philosophy, art and society, and language courses at multiple levels.

For graduate opportunities, students benefit from a comprehensive programme in Vietnamese history and culture and the added expertise of one of the strongest programmes in Asia worldwide, Phan said.

In addition to academic programming, the University also hosts numerous virtual and in-person events on Việt Nam, attracting an audience of over 1,000 students, scholars, and public members.

"The expertise gathered at Columbia means a matchless education in Vietnamese history, culture, and society for both the undergraduate and graduate level of engagement. The programme is dedicated to revealing the diversity, richness, and complexity of all Vietnamese cultures, identities, and history," Phan said.

According to Lien Hang Nguyễn, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her colleagues succeeded in holding two international conferences in 2019. The programme was cancelled in 2020, but they still had webinars and other activities for students and those interested in Vietnamese studies.

This helped ensure that studies were sustained through those difficult times.

During his visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021, President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc acknowledged Lien Hang Nguyen's and her colleagues' contribution to promoting an understanding of Việt Nam in the US.

The meeting with President Phúc prompted Lien Hang Nguyễn and her colleagues to expand the programme.

At the seminar, participants also witnessed the signing ceremony of the MOU between the Diplomacy Academy of Việt Nam and Columbia University.

The same type of seminar will be taking place in HCM City tomorrow, July 29. VNS