The third annual conference of the Purdue University-Nanjing Joint Centre for China Research, held at Nanjing Agricultural University on 21-22 October 2017, has attracted great academic interest both in China and abroad. The two universities agreed to set up this Joint Centre in 2014 in order to promote Sino-American academic exchange and discipline development. Since then, interest in this academic collaboration has been growing dramatically.
The theme of this year’s conference was “The Silk Road and Sino-Foreign Agricultural Exchange”, a topic that was explored from different angles, including politics, economics, science, technology and culture. Papers ranged from studies on individual food products such as watermelons, chilies, wheat, cassava, tea and maize to studies of manufactured goods such as silk and paper. The time frame ranged from prehistory to the modern period.
An additional focus of the conference was on rural development and the protection of cultural heritage. Some of the ideas were to increase tourism and to promote new products, such as blackberry juice, which farmers can produce themselves given the right incentives. The topics of the two keynote speeches were: “Genetically Modified Food Crops in China: Science and Politics” by Prof. R. Douglas Hurt of Purdue University, and “Life, Design and Sustainability” by Guo Zhan, Vice President and Commissioner General of the Chinese Commission for the International Council on Monuments and Sites.
Dr. Sally Church and John Moffett, Librarian of the Needham Research Institute, were the only invited presenters not only from the University of Cambridge, but also from the United Kingdom. Dr Church presented a paper on the topic of: ‘Impressions of Early 13th-century Central Asia as seen in the poetry of Yelü Chucai’’. You will find more information about Dr. Church’s lecture in one of the postings to follow shortly.