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Attending conferences is standard fare for most of us in the academy. In the international administration realm, participation in such conferences is critical to our mission. This year UNCG participated in the Asian Pacific Association of International Educators (APAIE) conference held in Hong Kong (11-14 March 2013 at the AsiaWorld-Expo). This year marked the fiftieth anniversary of our partner university Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) who hosted the conference, a factor which definitely enhanced our experience. At the conference, we promoted (as a system) our UNC schools through a booth, made presentations, and deepened relationships with new, old and potential partners.
This year happened to mark the tenth year anniversary of the first SARS case discovered in Hong Kong. For that reason one of the keynote speakers for the meeting was Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, who had first-hand experience with SARS. As the key medical expert in communicable diseases for the region, he led the team that eventually determined the cause and worked for the eradication and eliminated the spread of the disease. I mention this because many of us were inspired by the remarks made during the Presidential Roundtable discussion which focused on 'Strategic Dimensions in International Higher Education'. Chaired by Prof. Joseph Sung and facilitated by Drs. Fiona Hunter of LIUC in Milan and Darla Deardorff of AIEA, the roundtable involved four university presidents who presented on the theme. The panelists shared their perspectives on the challenges facing higher education today. Although they addressed topical issues such as the rise of MOOCs and social responsibility of universities in nurturing global citizens, most enlightening was the passion with which they all expressed the critical nature of liberal arts and critical thinking in the future of international higher education for the sake of all our societies. Even as a medical practitioner, Professor Sung emphasized the need for the humanities and social sciences in higher education curricula because as he stated “our problems of the world are not science or technology problems, they are social problems.”
As higher education proponents we must articulate this message in very convincing arguments for our own politicians and constituents, especially in these times of budgetary constraints. We cannot afford to lose sight of one of our strengths as a nation, namely preparing graduates for the realities of the global environment they have inherited by emphasizing a strong liberal arts education. A tradition that must underlie all our technological and scientific discoveries. Only through such an education will our graduates be able to tackle successfully the global problems with which they are and will continue to be confronted.
Congratulations to the APAIE Board and local arrangement committee on a successful conference. Denise Bellamy and I offer our special thanks to CUHK’s Professor Joseph Sung, Dr. Gordon Cheung, APAIE President and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, Shalley Fan, Ingrid Lo, and Louis Wong, for your gracious hospitality!
For more information see:http://www.oal.cuhk.edu.hk/index.php/international-activities-at-cuhk/apaie-2013