CUHK Establishes First-of-its-kind Professorship to Promote Indian Religions and Culture
With a generous donation of HK$4 million from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of Hong Kong (ISKCON), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has newly established a Professorship in Indian Religions and Culture within the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies to strengthen its research and teaching in religious and cultural studies, making it the first local tertiary institution to set up a professorship in this academic area. Officiated by Mr. L.D. Ralte, Consul General of India; Ms. Sri Radhika and Mr. Bhaktivinod, both from ISKCON; and Prof. Liu Pak-wai, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, a professorship inauguration cum cheque presentation ceremony has been held today (11 October 2007).
Prof. Kenneth Valpey from Oxford University has been appointed to the professorship. The Department of Cultural and Religious Studies is offering four new courses, which are the first of its kind in Hong Kong, on Indian religions and culture. They include ‘Religious Traditions of India’, ‘Tradition and Modernity in India’, ‘Self and Identity in Indian Culture’, and ‘Special Topic in International Studies’ for undergraduate major programmes of the department as well as general education of undergraduates and international students. The department is also developing courses on Indian religions and culture on the MA level and exploring collaboration opportunities with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. In addition, various academic and cultural activities, such as lectures, seminars, publications, cultural festivals and study tours, will be organized to enhance public understanding of Indian religions and culture as well as benefit the secondary school teachers and students joining the University’s ‘Harmony in Diversity’ programme.
Ms. Radhika of ISKCON said, “It has long been the vision of ISKCON to establish an academic course on Indian religions and culture in a local institution of higher learning. We are confident that the setting up of this new programme will bring about a better understanding of the diverse culture of India, and further enhance the existing goodwill and rapport between the local Chinese people and the Indian community, who have made Hong Kong their home.”
Prof. Liu Pak-wai said, “India has a very ancient and diverse culture that few countries in the world have. Indian people also have a long presence in Hong Kong. India’s links with Hong Kong date back to the 1840s. It is estimated that there are currently about 35,000 Indians living in Hong Kong, making it one of the largest Indian communities abroad. As an important academic centre for Chinese and overseas scholars, our university has been striving to enhance exchanges between the East and the West. We see the inauguration of the Professorship in Indian Religions and Culture in Chinese University as an important step of promoting cultural exchange, establishing and developing relations between academic institutions in India and Hong Kong.”
The Department of Cultural and Religious Studies of CUHK has been striving to promote the comparative studies of different cultures and religions. In recent years, with the generous financial support from various religious communities, several research centres have been established under the department, including the Centre for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, the Centre for the Studies of Daoist Culture, the Centre for Catholic Studies and the Centre for Christian Studies. The establishment of the Professorship in Indian Religions and Culture lays a solid foundation for relevant studies in the University and we will continue to help foster cultural pluralism within the community.