Established in 2004, the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education Annual Meeting brings together higher education institutions from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. This year, in Seoul, Republic of Korea, the meeting was attended by a delegation from the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), including Secretary-General Jason Scorza, Vice Provost for International Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Treasurer-Elect Ichiro Tanioka, President of Osaka University of Commerce.
The highlight of the four-day meeting was a special President’s Roundtable convened in the Grand Peace Hall of Kyung Hee University (KHU). Following welcome remarks from Dr. Gordon Cheung, President of APAIE, the keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Inwon Choue, President of Kyung Hee University and son of IAUP co-founder and KHU founder Young Seek Choue.
The theme selected by Dr. Choue for the occasion was, “Humanity and University: What Happened to the Golden Rule?” Challenging the assembled academic leaders to resist the pressures of competition and survival, Dr. Choue invited attendees to commit themselves to rediscovering the primal purpose of the university: “to reflect upon life and humanity.”
Dr. Choue said, “It is [a] worry that while the foundational value is withering, the University is becoming a reactive social institution that puts its survival as the priority. The rationale for survival and competition [can be] said to be corroding, or defaming the core of the University.”
“[This] might sound old-fashioned in today’s world. It does so because the center of gravity for the University is believed to have shifted towards the knowledge, technology and information that modern society requires. But if the foundation of academe is [the understanding of] humanity, the questions for the University are still very much relevant and meaningful.”
Following the keynote speech, Dr. Scorza convened and facilitated a roundtable discussion of distinguished university presidents, including Dr. Flora Chia-I Chang of Tamkang University (Taiwan), Dr. Ki-Pung Yoo of Sogang University (Korea), Dr. Rajata Rajatanavin of Mahidol University (Thailand), Dr. Tom Apple of University of Hawaii at Manoa (USA), and Dr. Yong-Goo Lee of Chung Ang University (Korea).
The theme of the roundtable, “Towards Conscious Higher Education: Challenges, Opportunities and the Emerging Role of the University for the Global Agenda,” had been proposed by Dr. Stephen Yong-Seung Park, Dean of International Affairs at KHU, who organized the program. Participants touched on some of the challenges facing modern universities, including the pressures of competition, the false incentives provided by the ranking systems, and difficulty of balancing the professional preparation of students with the education of the whole person through the arts, humanities, and social engagement.
Scorza called upon attendees to contemplate the meaning of the roundtable’s theme “conscious higher education.” Scorza said, “By ‘conscious’ we must mean ‘self-aware.’ That is to say, aware of our own strengths, weaknesses, values, and prejudices. And we also must mean ‘mindful.’ That is to say, considerate of the impact our choices, policies, and practices have on others.”