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York Centre for Asian Research Updates                    Issue 75, Friday, January 26, 2007

In this issue

YCAR Brownbag

 From rice to shrimp: environmental and agrarian changes in rural Bangladesh
  Cultural Events  York to participate in Chinese New Year Celebrations February 2007

Fellowship Opportunity

 Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation promotes study of Chinese culture and society

Call for Proposals

 MRI-ORF program promotes research excellence in Ontario

Asia News - Japan

 Education panel report deserves full marks

YCAR brownbag speaker to talk on environmental and agrarian changes in Bangladesh

Monday, Jan 29, 12-1:30 pm, York Lanes 270B - Saidul Islam, York PhD Candidate in Sociology will talk on Environmental and Agrarian Changes in Rural Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the top 10 shrimp producing countries of the world, and cultured shrimp is known as "white gold" in rural Bangladesh. Many Bangladeshi rice farmers are adopting low-salinity culture systems that rely upon sea water or salt farm effluent that is trucked inland. This innovation, combined with low farm gate prices for rice and high prices for shrimp in the world market, has led increasing numbers of rice farmers in Bangladesh to convert paddy fields to shrimp ponds, and as a result the amount of land under shrimp production has skyrocketed in recent years. As rural economy is increasingly linked to global shrimp commodity chain, Saidul will discuss how it has generated significant changes both in environmental and agrarian landscapes of rural Bangladesh. (Photo credit: The Daily Star).

On Wednesday, January 31, at 2:30 pm at Bethune Gallery, Bethune College, Postmodern Productions presents “The Black-Bearded Barbarian of Taiwan” featuring the life and times of George Leslie Mackay. Susan Papp will be showing her documentary at York. This event is organized by V. Tomaszewski Ramses, from the Department of Humanities/Glendon College.

Also on Friday, February 2 from 12:30-2pm at 304 Calumet College, the City Institute at York University (CITY) presents Leela Viswanathan, York Faculty of Environmental Studies, who will talk on "Megacity Masala: Racialized communities and social planning in Toronto". For more information, contact Sara Macdonald, Coordinator, The City Institute at York University (CITY), 228 York Lanes, tel (416) 650-8125, email,

York to participate in Chinese New Year Celebrations in February 2007

The Bata Shoe Museum and the Asian Heritage Month-Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. present Chinese New Year Celebrations, an event based on Watched by Heaven, Tied to Earth, The Museum's Exhibition of Chinese Children's Shoes.

The ceremony will be opened by Mrs. Sonja Bata, Director of the Bata Shoe Museum, with co-chair, The Honourable Vivienne Poy (right photo) and keynote speaker, Professor Jay Goulding (left photo) from York University who will speak on "Chinese Philosophy and Popular Culture".

The event will be held on Wednesday, February 7, 2007 from 6:00-9:30 pm at the Bata Shoe Museum at 327 Bloor St West, Toronto. Tickets at $60/person available until Monday, February 5. To purchase tickets by Visa, MasterCard, Amex or cheque, please call Elizabeth O. at (416) 979-7799 x 225. Dr. Kay Li, YCAR Research Associate, is director of the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Southern Ontario). The event is supported by Asian Institute/Munk Centre for International Studies of the University of Toronto and YCAR at York University. For more information visit

For more information on Chinese New Year celebrations in Toronto, visit and Gung Hei Fat Choy!

Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation promotes study of Chinese culture and society

The main objective of the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation is to promote the study of Chinese culture and society, broadly defined.  Through its support for international scholarly exchange, the Foundation hopes to create a better understanding between the Chinese and other peoples.  Its ultimate goal is to help integrate Chinese cultural values with the emerging global community.  The scope of the Foundation's programs includes, but is not limited to Chinese cultural heritage; Classical studies (especially literary and historical works); Republic of China (including any subject related to the Republic of China, its development and transformation since its establishment, through the Nanking period, and up to the present); Taiwan (including its history, archeology, socioeconomic, political and cultural aspects); China-related comparative studies. The Foundation will give priority to programs and projects that involve academic cooperation between scholars and institutions in the Republic of China and their counterparts abroad. 

Fellowships to be awarded in CanadaAwards will be given for Ph.D. dissertations & post-doctoral fellowships. 

CriteriaAll applicants must be, or become members in good standing of the Canadian Asian Studies Association. Doctoral candidates may apply for grants to help finance the completion of their dissertations.  Applicants must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants at the time of the award and must have completed all requirements for their Ph.D. degree except for the dissertation.  The grants are available annually for doctoral candidates who are not employed or receiving grants from other sources.  The Foundation also provides post-doctoral research grants to scholars. 

Application ProcedureApplicants from Canadian colleges and universities should address enquiries concerning application procedures to:  Canadian Asian Studies Association, CCASLS SB-115, c/o Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve O. Montréal (Québec) H3G 1M8 Canada. Tel: (514) 848-2280    Fax: (514) 848-4514    E-mail: Chiang Ching-Kuo applications must be submitted with all supporting materials (1 original and 3 copies).

All applications not completed with required number of copies are at the risk of being refused. Application Deadline: 1st February 2007.

MRI-ORF program promotes research excellence in Ontario

The Office of Research Services (ORS) would like to bring to the attention of York’s research community the Round 2 Call for Proposals for the Ontario Research Fund - Research Excellence (ORF-RE) program, a funding program administered by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI). A summary of this program is below, and complete details are available on the Ontario MRI web site: Complete details can also be obtained by contacting Steven Mataija (Manager, Government Research Initiatives Programs) at ORS at x22507 ( As applicants must submit a Notice of Intent (NoI) by March 2, 2007, potential applicants should contact Steven Mataija as soon as possible.

OBJECTIVE: The Ontario Research Fund - Research Excellence (ORF-RE) program promotes research excellence in Ontario by supporting transformative, internationally significant research of strategic value to the province. The ORF-RE focuses on scientific excellence and strong commercialization and targets new, leading-edge research initiatives. Strong participation by industry is a significant part of the ORF-RE’s mandate and applications with meaningful private sector commitment will be given additional consideration in the assessment process. While research proposals in all disciplines are eligible, the Ministry particularly encourages collaborative projects across institutions and disciplines that address: improving the environment (while maintaining or enhancing Ontario's economic productivity) through clean, green technologies; ways to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources through alternative energy technologies.

The ORF-RE program will fund: direct costs, including salaries and benefits, facilities and equipment, management and administration and indirect costs—the overhead costs of doing research;

VALUE: The program will contribute a maximum of 1/3 of the operating costs, with 1/3 of the remainder coming from the private sector and 1/3 from the institution. Institutions applying for funding must have a commitment from private sector partners to contribute one-third of the total proposed costs.

DEADLINE: The closing date for submitting a Notice of Intent (NoI) for Round 2 is March 2, 2007. The deadline for Round 2 proposals is May 31, 2007.

York University researchers are reminded that all applications for external research funding, including Letters of Intent, must be reviewed and approved by ORS before they are submitted to granting agency. For internal approval, the application must be accompanied by a completed ORS Application Checklist, which requires the Chair’s and Dean’s signatures. To ensure that the approved application is ready by the agency deadline, a complete application folder must be submitted to ORS ten (10) working days prior to final submission date.

Education panel report deserves full marks
By Editorial Desk, The Daily Yomiuri, 1/25/2007

The Education Rebuilding Council, a panel directly under the command of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right), has compiled its first report on education reform. The report's title is "Rebuilding of education by society as a whole," which demonstrates the strong message of the panel that the full participation of all citizens is indispensable for the reform of public education. The pillars of the report are seven proposals that the nation must tackle. The report met criticisms that it "lacks freshness" and that its compilers' discussions were "insufficient." However, we say members of the panel did a great job, expending a lot of effort in compiling the draft for discussions on the fundamentals of education. Now that the first report has been presented, the prime minister's determination and Diet members' responses to the proposals will be tested in terms of whether and in what form the proposals will be realized.

The most notable feature of the proposals is that the panel came up with a clear stance to "revise education with latitude." The report recommends a "10 percent increase in class hours," "confirmation of basic understanding and knowledge" and "improvement of too thin textbooks." It thus calls for revisions to the course of study.

Revise related laws soon

Behind the widespread unease over children's declining academic ability is the "education with latitude" policy that slashed the content of subjects to be taught and shortened class hours drastically. For the first time as a governmental panel of experts, the council declared a "departure from education with latitude." This fact has great significance.

The panel made a review of the five-day school week system one of the subjects to be studied later. We hope panel members will deepen their discussions from a variety of perspectives on how to improve children's academic ability. The report also calls for early revisions to laws in line with the intent of the proposals.

One such law is the Education Personnel Certification Law, whose revision is planned to permit the introduction of a system to make the teacher's license valid for a fixed term, after which it would have to be renewed. The panel proposes a system to remove unfit teachers, such as those lacking teaching abilities, from the classroom and suspend their licenses. The proposal is severer than the renewal system proposed by the Central Council for Education, an advisory body to the education, science and technology minister.

The ministry will ask the advisory panel to study the Education Rebuilding Council's proposal and submit a bill to revise the law to the ordinary Diet session. Proper consideration should be given to compilation of the bill so as not to lose the intent of the rebuilding council.

Proposals should spur debate

The council also picked, as an issue of urgency, revisions to the law concerning the organization and operation of local education administrations as an emerging task for a drastic reform of boards of education. In view of the boards' inappropriate handling of the issues of bullying and the failure of some high schools to teach required subjects, some council members went as far as to argue for the abolition of the boards, but arguments favoring an overhaul of the boards' functions won the day.

Concerning the reform of education boards, the council proposed, among other things, the "clarification of responsibilities," "transfer of authority over appointment of teachers to city, town and village education boards" and "external evaluations of boards by a third-party organization."

The panel set as a subject for further study the reinforcement of the education ministry's right to direct and supervise education boards. If the central government's involvement is increased, it is indispensable for the ministry to reflect on the causes of and its responses to problems such as the planting of questioners at so-called town meetings and its failure to instruct education boards appropriately despite the fact that it knew of the high schools' failure to teach required subjects.

Other proposals include more active utilization of an existing system to suspend from school children who repeatedly bully as well as a review of regulations prohibiting teachers from using corporal punishment. One proposal mentions the importance of discipline at home. Taking into consideration the report's recommendations, now is the time for society as a whole to debate education.

York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For more information, contact
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