Agricultural and Food Ethics in East Asia

While Humanities scholars in Asia are taking on a variety of environmental concerns, the East Asia Observatory is focusing on the impact of agriculture with respect to environmental and climate problems, and examining agricultural and food ethics from East Asian perspectives.

The East Asia Observatory at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, at National Taiwan University (EAO, NTU), strives to enlist scholars in the Humanities and related disciplines from East Asia-- and around the globe-- to join the fray in confronting the environmental and climate problems of the new century.

To connect our land-based concerns with parallels issues of the sea and marine life, we are building bridges with the Humanities and related scholars at the University of Guam for whom the health of the seas and the resilience of the stocks is of vital concern.

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East Asia Observatory: Prospectus and mission

東亞環境人文整合平台 願景與使命

The East Asia Obervatory (EAO) is hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences (IHS) at NTU. EAO is a participant an internationally sponsored environmental humanities project to provide data and materials regarding human impacts on the local (and eventually regional) environments and ecosystems, and moreover to identify, monitor, and sometimes address specific environmental problems due to human activities and related issues. The data, materials, and monitoring are to be provided by local faculty and allied organizations.


Periodically, when urgent ecological issues are identified that we think can be effectively addressed by concerted action, the East Asia Observatory will pool the knowledge, wisdom, knowhow, and synergy of local faculty and allied organizations to develop a response strategy. (Also, there might be cases where transforming a standing situation would be desirable, for example a clean-up of the waterways east of Wanhua, Taipei and the Tamsui River basin in order to create a beautiful green Taipei waterfront, not only to improve the river and coastal ecosystems but also to improve the quality of people’s lives there!) Once a problem or project has been identified and a working strategy set forth, the Observatory will appeal to interested faculty, government agencies, NGOs, as well as to business, social, and religious organizations for financial and other forms of assistance in solving the problem or transforming the situation.


These activities of identifying, monitoring, and addressing of environmental and ecological problems are presently being carried out by several partner European, Australian, and American Observatories.


The heart of the East Asia Observatory will be a multifunctional digital platform (under construction). The digital platform website will open with an introduction to its mission and contents, with links to the established partner Observatories in Europe, America, and Australia. The digital platform will provide images (photographic and video) of the environment and ecosystems of Taiwan (and later the East Asia region), including the seas and various climates. The digital platform will provide links to basic information and research on the environment and ecosystems of Taiwan and the region. Links to the other Observatories around the world will provide comparative data on the environmental and ecological situation, problems, and activities in those places for comparison and inspiration.


The East Asia Observatory is distinguished by having a Humanities heart and soul. For example, the digital platform will provide samples of local writings, such as literatures, chronicles, narratives, which offer evolving images of nature and ecosystems over time in various perspectives in Taiwan. Especially precious will be reports and reflections of the aboriginal peoples who occupied all areas of Taiwan for many millennia. Precious data were also left by settlers who came over from China during the past 400 years to set down roots and conduct their lives in the environment by farming, fishing, hunting, etc. Similar data will be collected from the period of rapid modernization under the Japanese (1895-1945), the period of land reform and industrialization under the Chinese Nationalists (1945-1985), and the postindustrial period of consumerism during which the natural environment is being ruthlessly encroached upon under free market democracy (1985-present). Indeed, it is due to this ruthless incessant encroachment of the remaining natural environment in the name of development that leads people to learn anew the age old wisdom of nature and ecological lifestyles in harmony with nature from the original inhabitants of Taiwan, the aborigines.

東亞環境人文整合平台以人文精神出發,因此,數位平台也刊登鄉土文學及年度紀事,佐以不同時期台灣環境變化的圖像;珍貴的是,我們將報導過去於台灣各地居住千年的原住民生活。此外,我們還刊登台灣不同時期人與土地的互動變化:400年前從中國來台的漢人在此發根、以農、漁、獵為生;日治時期(1895-1945)的快速現代化;國民黨統治時期(1945-1985)的土地改革與現代化;以至後消費主義盛行的後現代化時期(1985 至今的自由市場民主),人們以經濟發展為由,對自然環境一連串殘忍破壞,一提醒我們反思祖先原住民們與自然和諧共存的生活方式。

Philosophy and anthropology both provide insights into conceptual and cultural views of nature and of human interaction with nature. Philosophy in particular provides and critiques conceptual and ethical resources for approaching and responding to environmental and ecological issues and problems in the most sensitive and positive ways.


Besides utilizing the rich contributions of Humanities scholars in literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, languages, etc. the East Asia Observatory will incorporate data from science and agriculture programs that investigate the interface between human activity and ecosystems, and undertake work in the field, such as Geology, Geography and Environmental Resources, Cultural Geography, Meteorology, Oceanography, Global Change, Public Health, Fisheries, Agriculture, Bio-environment, Forestry, Agricultural Extension, Entomology, Experimental Forest, Mountain Experimental Farm, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning and New Ruralism Research and Development Center, etc.


Your interest in and support of the East Asia Observatory are greatly appreciated. Hopefully, by working together, we can make a significant different today for improving people’s lives tomorrow in Taiwan, throughout East Asia, as well as around the world.


Professor Kirill Thompson, Associate Dean for Humanities,
唐格理教授 台大人文社會高等研究院 副院長
Miss Loreina Sin, Project Specialist, IHS at NTU
冼汶霖小姐 台大人文社會高等研究院 專案助理