Invitation for an informal discussion on "communication" and "university"

Dear Ms. Tang,

My name is Eva Tsai and I am the director of the Graduate Institute of Mass Communication at National Taiwan Normal University. Though I have taught and researched at Shida since 2002, I am new to this administrative position. This gives me the opportunity to serve my colleagues and students, who have supported me well over the years in many ways. At the same time, taking up the position presents some new challenges, which is why I am writing.

The first challenge is identifying new areas that can continue to benefit learning, teaching, and research in our program. This would directly impact the decisions in our forthcoming search of a new faculty. In the past, we often considered within the needs of the field (communication).
For instance, we consider what (new and needed) areas of expertise the candidates can bring, how well they complement other existing research areas in the program, etc.

In a way, the field of communication is always on the pursuit of new technologies, whether it’s digitization, platformitization, or AI’s challenge to media regulation and innovations. We are concerned about how society and culture are shaped by not just technologies, but also by new modes of organization and laboring mediated by new tools. Our faculty and students want to build projects that can make an impact outside of the academy. We feel we would benefit immensely from you since you have the experiences of digital innovation and public service at the Cabinet level.

The second challenge has to do with how innovation and mutual care coexist in the university or higher education institutions. Social innovation often comes from organizational innovation, or new ways of communication and working. Yet universities are slow to change. Semester after semester in class, I feel compelled to give an argument to my students about “why universities should still exist.” The argument is always different and precarious. And it’s because the ways we learn and develop our capacities have changed significantly within the short period of several decades. I have numerous examples of alternative, virtual communities and subcultures that are far more “useful” and “caring” than the university.

Since you went on the path of self-education and alternative learning, I am curious about your thoughts on how the university should locate its social purposes.

I understand you must be extremely busy. I will not expect you to have all the answers. I do feel some form of exchange would help animate our perspectives on a number of issues. Thus, I am writing to invite you to our program for an informal discussion. Might you have an opening in November?


Eva Tsai 蔡如音
Director and Associate Professor
Graduate Institute of Mass Communication
National Taiwan Normal University