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Liberal Arts Goes Global

As part of the Santander scheme for staff and student mobility, Dr. Sarah Flavel, Senior Lecturer in Religions, Philosophies and Ethics, and two Bath Spa students (from RPE and English Literature) were awarded funding to the Nishan Confucian Studies Summer School, organised by our GALA partner, Beijing Foreign Studies University. The summer school began in Beijing and participants travelled to Qufu, the historic birthplace of Confucius, the founder of Classical Chinese philosophy. Students studied traditional Chinese philosophies and culture from a comparative perspective and also had the opportunity to learn about and practice traditional Chinese arts, including the tea ceremony, capping ceremony, Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, meditation and tàijí quán 太極拳 (Tai Chi).

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Building on the success of the summer school, from 2017 Dr. Flavel will be working as the academic director for a new collaborative summer programme, The International Academy for Chinese Thought and Culture, based at the BFSU Centre for East-West Relations in Beijing. The Academy programme is designed to bring together teaching methods and conceptual approaches from the Western classical liberal arts tradition alongside the Chinese ‘great learning’ and literati traditions. The programme provides an innovative response to the concern that traditional liberal-arts institutions have tended to perpetuate a Western-centred worldview. Students and staff will explore the conceptual and historical foundations for the Chinese arts and cultural industries, while expanding the horizons of what liberal arts education can mean in an international context.

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Staff in Religions, Philosophies and Ethics at Bath Spa University are building research connections with the Centre for East-West Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University, including a collaborative project entitled “Engaging China Through Intellectual History”. Various activities in the project will include collaboration on new global liberal arts programmes, an upcoming workshop on philosophies of education, as well as staff and student exchange.

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