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The 2017 Taiwan Ecology and Culture Study orientation at North Park University

Every second year, North Park University in Chicago offers a course called Ecology and Culture of Asia—Taiwan, which includes a two-week overseas visit to Taiwan in spring, to give its students an opportunity to experience Asian cultures in their respective environmental contexts,
Mr. David Dong, interim director of the Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago was invited to have a talk with the students before their departure for Taiwan.

The course instructor, Dr. Timothy Lin, explained that during this learning trip, the students are required to participate in observation, discussions, and related activities. The course places special focus on investigating and learning how culture developed in adaptation to the local ecosystem and the environmental issues the local population currently faces. Interaction with local scholars and students will provide perspectives.

This course is available to a range of students, for example as a Life Science component of the Natural Science General Education requirement, or as an elective within the Biology and Environmental Science majors. It provides an Asian immersion experience for students who otherwise have limited opportunities to understand Asian culture through direct experience, and it is an excellent choice for students in the Global Studies Program, being a regional study program in Asia.

Dr. Lin also explained why Taiwan had been selected as the study site for this course. Taiwan is an island with very diverse and unique ecosystems: from alpine tundra to tropical beaches; from volcanic craters to lush rain forests. Its diverse culture also allows students to experience Chinese, Japanese, and Micronesian cultures in one visit. In addition, Taiwan’s economic development in the past two decades provides an excellent example from which students can learn how other people have struggled and adapted to their environment and ecology.

Mr. David Dong spoke to the class at North Park University about Taiwan’s culture, natural resources, and education environment. He also told them about the Taiwan Scholarships, Huayu Enrichment Scholarships, and internship opportunities available in Taiwan. Some of the students may be very interested in returning to Taiwan to undertake further study or research, after undertaking their course there in spring lets them see firsthand some of what Taiwan has to offer.