Panel 1 (A-1): Common Structures and Issues of East Asian Countries

Panel Coordinator: Shiro Momoki (Osaka University, Japan)


Panel Abstract:


This session aims at a comparative discussion about how university-level history education (including the training of professional scholars) is changing or not in East Asian countries including China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. The recent worldwide reform of education at all levels has been based on a global scheme discussed and promoted in such arenas as OECD, UNESCO, and the EU. The situation among East Asian countries, however, shows more specific similarities, because education in East Asian countries shares many traditions such as conventional didactic teaching focusing on fixed knowledge and skills, harsh competition in entrance examinations, obsession with social uniformity, etc. Paying attention to both global trends and regional traditions, the common features and different aspects of university-level history education among East Asian countries will be examined in this session.

            With a focus on contents-based comparison, this session will mainly deal with how the subject scheme and historiography of national history and world history are different from (or integrated with) each other in four countries, and how the position of the different localities and minorities has been treated in respective countries. Related topics, such as how to overcome the traditional Eurocentric framework of historical research and historiography, and how to create content for an increasing number of foreign students in globalized schools, may also be discussed. As a basis for comparison, the session coordinator will raise some peculiar aspects of the nature of Japanese education. First, because Japan does not have a tradition of civil service examination in the pre-modern period, academicians are reluctant to concern with sociopolitical issues and indifferent to how to present their achievements to the public. They would rather practice specialized skills inside their own academic guild (university level history is usually divided into three separate majors, that is, Japanese<National>, Asian, and Western history) than to cultivate a wider vision of history in general. These tendencies have resulted in a general lack of understanding outside academia regarding the methods and value of historical research and education, despite a popular love of history and widespread (ultra-) nationalism that attaches great importance to history. Second, there has been a strong but closed national academia. Even today, many scholars of Japanese history find it unnecessary to refer to the research of foreign scholars or to learn any foreign language, while historians of Western history tend to engage in the unilateral import of Western academism to the domestic market in Japan. Is Chinese academia totally different? And what about the situation of Korea and Vietnam? Do regional frameworks (ASEAN for Vietnam, for instance) influence history education? What efforts are being made to solve these or other problems in respective countries?

            Through comparative analysis of such matters, the coordinator will discuss how to implement a renovated history education to maintain the merits of traditional high-level research and education in the humanities in general, and history in particular since the early modern era.




World History Discipline in China’s Universities


Yang Biao (East China Normal University, China)


The world history disciplines in Chinese universities have been influenced by the Soviet system for decades after 1949. Since 1980, China’s world history discipline construction has begun to break away from the shackles of the Soviet model, and from the macroscopic view of history to conduct world history disciplines. Chinese academic circles have proposed three world history concepts. The first is the “Holistic view of world history”, which advocates grasping the development of world history from a connected and overall level. The second is “Historical view of modernization” Trying to macrostructure a multi-line historical development framework, and propose that the human social productivity has undergone several major changes. The third is the “Historical view of civilization.” This theory uses civilization communication to construct a new thinking coordinate that understands the history of globalizations. These new historical views and the systems have supported the new understanding and new structure of world history research in Chinese universities from the perspective of macro-world history. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the “global view of history” has become popular in the history of China, and universities have strengthened the construction of world history disciplines. For example, Capital Normal University established the first Global history research center. The biggest change in the National Catalogue of Academic Degree-conferring Disciplines issued in 2012 is that the category of the first-level discipline “History” has changed from “History” to “Chinese history”, “World history” and “Archaeology”. The upgrading of world history to an independent discipline has had a tremendous impact on the development of world history discipline in China’s Universities.


High School History Curricular Reforms and the Role of University for Promoting History Education in Korea


Yang Hohwan (Seoul National University, South Korea)


Tripartite department or major system of Korean History, Asian History and Western History is still dominant in Korea. Most recent try of reuniting 3 departments in SNU failed in spite of the almost reached consensus among history professors for need of providing more broad and diversified perspectives and research areas with renovated research method training opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate program. The case of SNU showed that the existing boundary of national history and regional or world history overshadowed the trend of historical research for global perspective of connectivity. In the meantime, high school history became a kind of test ground for interconnecting Korean and World History and introducing global history. The 2007 history curricular revision is the case in point. This revision suggested integration of Korean and World history into History as a required subject. Regarding content organization of world history, concepts such as region, cultural exchange, and ‘regional world’ were presented under the banner of ‘new world history’. Another keyword of new world history is the overcoming of Eurocentrism and globalization/global history as a means of doing so. This bold proposal was only partially realized. Amid recent political upheavals and ideological conflicts, Korean History still remains an independent required subject at senior high level and criticism against adopting global perspective hindered substantiating ‘new world history’. Compared to much delayed and hesitant reform movement at the university level, high school curriculum recently went through, sometimes too ambitious and trendy, trials of implementing global perspective instead of national boundary of history. This paper investigates causes and background of this contrasting aspects of recent changes in university history programs and high school history curricula. It mainly deals with following questions; Can high school history curricular reform pave the way for renovation of university history program? How researchers at university to provide appropriate directions and methods to improve secondary level history education? How can we prepare future and in-service teachers to befit to teach diverse and interconnected aspects of human life beyond national boundary?


Teaching History in Vietnam from Global History Perspective: Reality and Prospect


Pham Quang Minh (Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam)


The main objective of the paper is to propose some suggestions for improvement of teaching/learning history subject in Vietnam based on the idea of Global history. In order to do so the paper first tries to describe the reality of teaching the history subject in Vietnam in both level of school and university as well, and to show some its limitations. Then the paper analyzes the importance of using approach of three C in teaching/learning history, namely Comparison, Change and Connection and its implications to teach and learn Vietnamese history. The paper concludes that a national history such as Vietnamese one should be taught and learned as an integral part of regional and global history.

University History Education in a Country of Craftsmen


Shiro Momoki (Osaka University, Japan)


This paper aims at introducing a number of basic features of history education, including the training of professional scholars in Japanese universities, by focusing on its historical and sociocultural backgrounds. The author is eager to compare these features with the significance of history education in other East Asian countries. In the first part, current systems and recent changes in higher education in general, and history in particular, will be briefly introduced. The absence of a school of history combined with the tripartite major systems of Japanese, Asian and Western histories has created peculiar features of history education, not only in universities but also in the earlier stages of education. In the second part, this paper will deal with the mentality of Japanese historians and its background. Because of the lack of a tradition of civil service examination, historians tend to be craftsmen of narrow in-depth study rather than being Confucianized educated persons who have general vision and sufficient presentation skills to engage in sociopolitical issues with the public. While high school students are forced to memorize uniform knowledge by rote without thinking, university students (including graduate students) are treated as apprentices in the style of an “Ancien Régime” to imitate their professors and senior students. From the viewpoint of academic history, the Confucianist style of research and education developed rapidly in the late Tokugawa period, based on which the modernization after the Meiji era became possible. At the same time, however, this history created a number of problems within the direction of modernization, including an excessive deep-rooted sense of national history and culture, which must be comparableonly with European ones but separatefrom Asian ones. The final part of this paper will discuss the recent (partial) development and (total) deadlock of university history education, and the debates about whether they should follow the global (American) model of education or not. Although the author’s view is pessimistic, he wishes to present some key issues for the revival of history education.