Asian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Asian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (AJSoTL) is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal. AJSoTL seeks to create and nurture a global network of academics and educators who will discuss ongoing changes and future trends in tertiary education.


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Asian education hubs with a global perspective

Universities in Asia are faced with the twin challenges of maintaining an Asian identity, while at the same time cultivating global awareness among graduates, and it is not always clear what these notions of 'Asian' versus 'global' may mean. The need to shape students' mindset toward a 'global' perspective becomes all the more pertinent at the tertiary level as undergraduates take the next step into the global community upon graduation. This is in addition to the issues and challenges related to how educators can prepare students toward adopting a global mindset. This forum welcomes your deliberations on these and related issues on the topic of “Asian education hubs with a global perspective/s”.

2 Replies


Sep 04, 2013

There are some inherent tensions and sometimes one wonders what identities should the universities try to develop in students? the global identity? the regional identity? or the professional identity? or the identity as a learner/scholar/thinker. Not that all these are mutually independent but there seems to be too much on the plate. As Carmel notes, each university should pick and choose - the coherency from the individual to the discipline to the university is important and perhaps unique.

Fields like medicine, science and engineering appear to not focus on developing regional identity in any significant way. The subjects they read tend to be "global" - the prescribed books are mainly written by western authors, and the examples and assessment tend to focus on generic problems and do not relate to any specific geographic locations. They believe the principles they teach are applicable both globally and locally.

This is changing to some extent with the introduction of authentic learning components involving the solution of local problems, diseases specific to certain regions, and development of products that satisfy the local community or region. The emphasis on sustainability has also helped to reflect on local practices and how they impact the globe (and vice versa). We are also seeing more books coming out with Asian authors which include "asian" problems as case studies.

Thus, in some professional disciplines, it seems difficult to focus on retaining/developing the Asian identity. If these students do some arts, humanities, music and business courses as part of general education or as electives they have the opportunity to maintaining Asian identity.

When big chunks of a university do not explicitly work towards creating an asian identity, is it possible for the university to create this asian identity? Why is the Asian identity important? And, if there is a solid answer for that question, what mechanisms would be needed to forge that identity in any randomly slected student or teacher?


Sep 04, 2013

Not so long ago, I wrote a short piece for the Teaching and Learning Portal at University College London (UCL) where I am a Visiting Professor in Higher Education. The piece was titled 'Cultural nuances in applying universal principles of good teaching and learning' and can be found at UCL has a strong commitment to internationalization of the curriculum as part of their strategy to "strengthen and enhance UCL’s position as an internationally engaged and internationally responsive world-leading global university" ( Note that the key word in the title (and the brief article) is the word "nuance". There are generally accepted principles for what constitutes good teaching and the design of effective learning environments. However, there is a wealth of difference in how these principles might be enacted - might play out - in any particular context. That is the art and science of globalization in higher education.

So, my own University - The Chinese University of Hong Kong - is a very different university to UCL in terms of how it views priorities for ensuring that graduates have the qualities and literacies needed in the 21st century. So, for me, it is essential that each university needs to be quite clear - and quite explicit - about its own mission, about its own statement of graduate capabilities, and how it sees itself as differentiating itself from other universities in the same country or region. This is not a matter of a glib PR piece but a process of serious reflection and iterative articulation. Asian universities have a unique place in the global higher-education scene. They should not be carbon copies of 'other' 'western' universities but see themselves as unique and vital contributors to the future of education for all humanity.

Carmel McNaught
Professor of Learning Enhancement, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
(Adjunct appointments at universities in Australia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom)

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