Alliance of Asian Liberal Arts Universities (AALAU) 6th Annual Presidents’ Forum Hosted by iCLA

AALAU Member Institution Representatives gathered to discuss liberal arts in forum held on November 24th.

iCLA hosts AALAU's Presidents' Forum

The Alliance of Asian Liberal Arts Universities (AALAU) 6th Presidents’ Forum was hosted by iCLA on November 24th, 2023. A growing network of 29 liberal arts universities across 7 countries and regions in Asia, AALAU and its corresponding annual Presidents’ Forum brings together representatives from member institutions  to discuss crucial topics concerning the challenges of liberal arts education and the development of liberal arts in the higher education landscape.

The three main themes of this year’s Presidents’ Forum were:

  • “Liberal Arts in a Fragile World;”
  • “Liberal Arts in an Age of AI;” and
  • “Towards an Employable Liberal Arts.”

iCLA was honored to have distinguished academics and administrators from liberal arts universities across Asia join the event in-person and online.

The event was kicked off with opening remarks by iCLA Dean Sanjay Jhingan, YGU Vice President Professor Yoshiki Takeda, and Professor S. Joe Qin, President and Wai Kee Kau Chair Professor of Data Science at Lingnan University. Keynote speakers included Professor Taisaku Ikeshima (Former Dean, School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University), Professor Mark Williams (Vice President, International Exchange, International Christian University), and Professor Angela Yiu (Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sophia University).

Professor Angela Yiu gives keynote speech at the AALAU Presidents' Forum.

Professor Ikeshima’s keynote speech,  “Challenges and opportunities in a post COVID-19 era: From my experiences and perspectives at Waseda SILS,” detailed the challenges faced by SILS in face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity for students to nurture what he calls “negative capability” in order to become more resilient and flexible in a society filled with volatility and uncertainty. Professor William’s keynote speech,  “Reconciling all Things: Towards a Peace-building Agenda in the Liberal Arts,” explored the role of universities and liberal arts in making a difference in a fragile world. By sharing the transnational initiatives in ICU, he emphasized the importance of reconciliation in an increasingly polarized world. Finally, Professor Angela Yiu in her keynote speech “Understanding the World in the Language of Liberal Arts” urged the participants to consider how the language of liberal arts can serve as a toolbox for students to be facilitators of communication and conversation across the often discrete fields of specialized knowledge in our world.

In the second half of the forum, panel discussions centered on each of the three themes brought about productive discussions on bettering liberal arts education in the rapidly changing world. Panel discussions were moderated by Professor Shalendra Sharma of Lingnan University, Professor John O’Dea of The University of Tokyo, and Professor Matthew Ferguson of Mahidol University.

AALAU Member Institution representatives join the forum held at iCLA.