The “Yangtze Delta Graduate Innovation Forum on Area Studies” held at Nanjing University


On October 28, 2023, the “Yangtze Delta Graduate Innovation Forum on Area Studies” was held at Nanjing University, with theme of “Local Perspective, Global Vision: The ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ of Area Studies”. Zhang Liang, Vice Dean of Graduate School of Nanjing University, Zhu Feng, Executive Dean of School of International Studies of Nanjing University, and Wang Yizhou, Dean of the Institute of Area Studies of Nanjing University, attended the forum and delivered speeches. Zhou Heng, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of School of Government and School of International Studies, presented awards to the prize winners. Sixteen doctoral and master students from Peking University, Fudan University, Sun Yat-sen University, Shandong University, Xiamen University, Tongji University, National University of Defense Technology, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Shanghai University, Shanghai Institute of International Studies, Party School of the CPC Shaanxi Committee, and Nanjing University participated in the forum.

Professor Zhang Liang first highlighted that this forum is one of the projects of Nanjing University in response to the “Graduate Students’ Academic and Practical Innovation Ability Enhancement Plan” of Jiangsu Education Department, which is aimed at broadening the academic horizons of postgraduates and fostering the spirit of innovation. He pointed out that this forum has the characteristics of “two less and two more”. That is to say, the size of this forum is small and there are fewer participants from Nanjing university; but the number of delegates from brother universities is large with more presentation time, which shows that this forum has national influence beyond Jiangsu and is students-centered and research-oriented. Professor Zhu Feng introduced the situation of the School of International Studies, Nanjing University, proposing that this forum is not only a feast of ideas, but also an important opportunity for students to communicate with others. He explained that Area Studies and International Studies belong to social sciences, and social science research should face practice, society and international counterparts, approach the research object and academic community, and improve research ability in mutual encouragement, mutual discussion and mutual exchanges. Professor Wang Yizhou pointed out that the characteristics of the Institute of Area Studies, Nanjing University, is to explore the “study” of the discipline, and to carry out researches around the basic theories, basic methods, foreign experiences, major methodologies, and general issues of disciplinary development. It is emphasized that Area Studies is not only about books, but also to be combined with the major demands of national and global development. It is hoped that students would maintain the consciousness of academic exchanges and devote their personal youth and academic enthusiasm to the process of national development.

This year’s Graduate Forum received enthusiastic responses from graduate students from universities and research institutes across China, and more than 60 papers were submitted. Based on the evaluation by the Academic Committee of the forum, 15 papers were finally selected, with authors from 12 universities and research institutes. Four sub-forums were set up, which were moderated by Zhou Wenxing, Wei Han, Li Tu and Wang Wanlu, assistant researchers of the School of International Studies, Nanjing University, respectively. During the one-day discussion, 16 postgraduates made presentations of their theses. Professor Wang Yizhou, Professor Zheng Xianwu from the School of History, Associate Professors Zhao Guangrui and Fang Tingtingfrom the School of International Studies commented on their theses, fully affirmed the merits of them and put forward detailed and pertinent suggestions for improvement. The students benefited greatly from the experts’ comments and discussions, which deepened their understanding of Area Studies and strengthened their interest and enthusiasm in this emerging discipline while optimizing their theses.

After the scoring and deliberation of the Evaluation Committee of the forum, one first prize, four second prizes, five third prizes and five recognition prizes were awarded. In the closing session, Zhou Heng, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of the School of Government and the School of International Studies, read out the list of prizes, and awarded certificates to the winners. Professor Wang Yizhou finally summarized the conference by congratulating the students and expressing his gratitude to the participating students, faculty, and organizing staff. He hoped that the participants would not be satisfied with the existing achievements, but should revise and improve theirtheses by absorbing suggestions, and continue to improve their academic knowledge. He also provided specific suggestions and requirements on the modification and publication of the theses. The Organizing Committee of the forum will publish a collection of related works in due course according to the revision of the theses.

The “Yangtze Delta Graduate Forum on Area Studies Innovation” is a project established by Nanjing University in response to the “Graduate Students’ Academic and Practical Innovation Ability Enhancement Plan” of Jiangsu Education Department. It is sponsored by Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Steering Committee of Jiangsu Province, and co-hosted by the School of International Studies and the Institute of Area Studies, Nanjing University. The forum aims to provide an academic exchange platform for young scholars of Area Studies across the country. By doing so, it gathers new forces and youth wisdom to promote the development of the discipline.

 (Text/Wang Wanlu, Translate/Bao Yiwen)