Academia Sinica and the Council of Agriculture work in conjunction for the first time to launch a 5-year survey of rural Taiwan. From the left are: Dr Ming-ke Wang, director of the main project of "A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan"; James C. Liao, President of Academia Sinica; Tsung-hsien Lin, minister of the Council; Dr Hsueh-chi Hsu, director of the Institute of Taiwan History, and Dr Gwo-shyong Shieh, director of the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica.President Liao and minister Lin signing the cooperation agreement for the survey.President Liao giving remarks.Minister Lin sharing his thoughts.Dr Wang giving an overview of "A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan."Deputy minister Ji-zhong Chen explaining the origin of the cooperation and its importance.
The Council of Agriculture of Executive Yuan and Academia Sinica play host to the press conference of "A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan” this morning. In signing a cooperation agreement to implement the nationwide survey, Tsung-hsien Lin, minister of the Council, and James C. Liao, president of Academia Sinica, announce that the bilaterally launched 5-year-survey seeks to systematically document and archive the change that rural Taiwan has undergone in terms of environment, economy, society, culture and history. In subjecting the findings to cross-disciplinary analyses, this survey intends to find the best way to boost Taiwan agriculture, sustainably develop rural Taiwan, and vitalize the rural culture as one of the important social fabrics of the country. In addition, this survey foregrounds the formation of young professionals in agro-economy to continuously track the socio-economic situation of rural Taiwan, such that a thorough understanding of rural Taiwan can inform polic-making and governance, delivering a strong, local impact that will create an organic network that connects rural Taiwan with urban Taiwan.
Document, testify, and research "postitive changes" in rural Taiwan
To instigate an advanced version of rural rejuvenation, the Council of Agriculture partners with Academia Sinica for the first time. Led by Dr Wang Ming-ke, an academician of Academia Sinica, the project of “A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan” draws on the synergies of more than two hundred staff from different fields in the humanities and social sciences. They investigate the economic, social, and cultural practices across various societal structure ranging from family, community, and township to regions defined by drainage basins. Their scope of interest is all-embracing: demography, land use, natural resources, environmental stressors, economic activities, social organization, class, distribution of labor, social conflict, religion, custom, cultural heritage, educational infrastructure, cultural participation, health care, food, clothing, living environment, transportation, and recreation. Starting from 2018, the 5-year- survey operates with fieldwork and literature review in order to obtain an in-depth and diachronic understanding of the above-mentioned dimensions of rural Taiwan. The findings will feed into an online database that facilitates the preservation, query, analyses, presentation, and application of data to pave the way for a scientifically-informed plan for generations to come.
At the press conference, Dr Hsueh-chi Hsu, director of te Institute of Taiwan History, and Dr Gwo-Shyong Shieh, director of the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica, share annecdotes and tales gleaned from their fieldwork since the start of the survey. Their accounts bespeak how the rural tradition is interwoven with flares of contemporary creativitiy, and the multifaceted reality marked by industrial transition shapes the lived experience of rural Taiwan perceived as such today.
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest."
At the conference, President Liao stresses that the rural problem is not merely a problem confined in rural areas, but part of a chain that involves globalization and the malfunction of cities. Therefore the rural problem is also a problem shared by Taiwan and the world. President Liao notes that rural Taiwan and the present scenario of Taiwanese society are central to the interest of Academia Sincia as the highest research institution of the country. In the belief that knowledge is at the service of the society, Academia Sinica hopes to take up the role of a think tank for the government. The responsibility and concerns for Taiwan will constantly motivate the survey team to illuminate the policy-making in urban and rural issues, rural rejuvenation, and valorizing the social and cultural values of rural society.
Minister Lin compares the project of "A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan" to what farmers' refer to as shuntianshui ("inspecting the field’s irrgation" )—both are groundwork crucial to success and harvest. He hopes that in pulling interdisciplinary brainpower together, sociologists can help rural Taiwan interpret the course of life in terms of change, historians can give voice to stories underlying the surface of ungoing events, and scientists may be able to sketch out a viable and sustainable model to inform the conception, execution, feedback, and correction of policies. Building up experiences through praxis, identifying problems based on facts, and facing the music frankly, as is suggested, echo with Premier Ching-te Lai's call for "doing substantial work." Pragmatism in policy-making and a down-to-earth style can enhance both the appeal and competitive edge of rural Taiwan so that it will thrive sustainably.
Based on the report summing up the vision and agenda of the 6th Natioal Agricultural Congress that took place on Spetember 7 and 8, minister Lin states that the Council is resolute in preserving and safeguarding rural Taiwan that is amazingly rich in diversity and cultural tradition in concert with sustainable development. Relating to the importance of documenting and relaying the tradition of rural society and agrigultural know-how, Lin pictures an innovative governance that integrates the past with the present and the future, and he posits that an efficacious cross-domain model for developing rural areas should be able to connect different regions to maximize the impact. According to Lin, agriculture and rural society revolve around people, and people will also constitute the linchpin of the partnership with Academia Sinica, such that the survey will capture the nature of rural Taiwan with the aid of a growing manpower benefiting from the intelligence groundwork. This intelligence system helps to foster well-rounded abilities and sensitivities for those who partiticpate in the survey which provides a blueprint for innovative governance. To conclude, Lin expresses his gratitude for the faculties at Academia Sinica to implement this task, which will bring intellectual momentum to dirve the nation toward a better future rejoicing in the harmony between nature and culture.
Dr Fu-shih Lin, director of Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC), serves as the co-director of the survey and the director of the survey's head office. ASCDC is responsible for the fourth division of the survey which deals with data digitization and presentation. This division aims to build a GIS-powered digital platform for people to crowdsource information, upload, (co-)work on, and analyze the data gathered through fieldwork carried out by other divisions that look into agro-industries, agro-production, society, culture, and human ecology. This division will also maintain the cyberstructure that records the survey's work in so far as the first-hand information can support long-term rural research, enabling the survey to function as a living reservoir for smart governance.
A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan Press Conference
Date: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Venue: Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan (37 Nanhai Rd. 10014 Taipei)
Orgnaiezd by: Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan
Carried out by: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica & "A Social and Cultural Survey of Rural Taiwan" Project