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Scholars expect to revolutionize understanding of Vietnam | Society

John Phan, Assistant Professor of Vietnamese Humanities, delivers a presentation on the Vietnamese Studies program at Columbia University. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) – Top scholars from Columbia University today presented prospects for the burgeoning field of Vietnamese Studies at a conference in Hanoi titled “Understand the Past – Transform the Future.”

the conference featured
Columbia facultyincluding members of the Columbia Vietnamese Studiesprogramme, alumni, partners, and colleagues in Vietnam. It was also attended by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ha Kim Ngoc and US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper.

In 2017, Columbia University, one of the eight “Ivy League” schools in the US, launched a Vietnamese studies program aimed at helping young people not only from the United States but from around the world learn more about Vietnam.

The program was initiated by two full-time faculty dedicated to Vietnamese Studies: Lien Hang Nguyen, Dorothy Borg, Professor in the History of the United States and East Asia, and John Phan, Assistant Professor of Vietnamese Humanities. They are joined by instructors Phuong Chung Nguyen and Vinh Quoc Nguyen, who teach the Vietnamese language at all levels.

Speaking at the seminar, speakers highlight the importance of the study of Vietnam at Columbia, citing Vietnam’s geostrategic significance, its growing economic strength, and opportunities for developing future partnerships in higher education between Vietnam and Columbia.

John Phan, Assistant Professor of Vietnamese Humanities, said Vietnam has transformed over the past few decades, and global interest in Vietnam has transformed accordingly.

“Meanwhile, new research into Vietnamese language, literature, history, and culture has burst beyond the confines of traditional knowledge and approaches,” he said.

Phan said Columbia’s Vietnamese Studies program was a vision defined by a deep engagement with contemporary Vietnamese cultures and societies and a commitment to educating the world about Vietnam’s relevance to all fields of study.

The core faculty has designed an extensive curriculum on Vietnam, offering both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. For the undergraduate programme, students will be provided with a two-semester course introducing Vietnamese civilization, covering history, archaeology, literature, philosophy, art and society, and language courses at multiple levels.

For graduate opportunities, students benefit from a comprehensive program in Vietnamese history and culture and the added expertise of one of the strongest programs in Asia worldwide, Phan said.

In addition to academic programming, the University also hosts numerous virtual and in-person events in Vietnam, attracting an audience of over 1,000 students, scholars, and public members.

“The expertise gathered at Columbia means a matchless education in Vietnamese history, culture, and society for both the undergraduate and graduate level of engagement. The program is dedicated to revealing the diversity, richness, and complexity of all Vietnamese cultures, identities, and history ,” Phan said.

According to Lien Hang Nguyen, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her colleagues succeeded in holding two international conferences in 2019. The program was canceled in 2020, but they still had webinars and other activities for students and those interested in Vietnamese studies.

This helped ensure that studies were sustained through those difficult times.

During his visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc acknowledged Lien Hang Nguyen’s and her colleagues’ contributions to promoting an understanding of Vietnam in the US.

The meeting with President Phuc prompted Lien Hang Nguyen and her colleagues to expand the programme.

At the seminar, participants also witnessed the signing ceremony of the MOU between the Diplomacy Academy of Vietnam and Columbia University.

A similar seminar was held in Ho Chi Minh City on July 29./.

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