Message from the Journal Founder
Message from the founder of TKU and JFS
THREE DECADES OF FUTURES STUDIES
AT TAMKANG UNIVERSITY
Clement C. P. Chang*
Founder of Tamkang University
Taiwan, Republic of China
While Europe and America were vigorously promoting Futures Studies,
Taiwan was unfamiliar with it and unaffected by its impact. The moment
Taiwan began to notice Futures Studies, we raised the field to the international
arena. This is the nucleus of the tri-orientation policy that we are
currently developing: globalization, information-oriented education and
future-oriented education. This paper illustrates the development of
Futures Studies at Tamkang University and our expectations for its future
in Taiwan. It also deals with the challenges of promoting the "Futures
Studies Movement," the evaluation of the movement, and its plans for
Tamkang University has been promoting Futures Studies for thirty years.
These three decades of development are full of bittersweet experiences.
We feel joyful because Futures Studies has finally won its due reception
and is widely applied in our society today; we feel bitter because looking
back to the past when we were propagating Futures Studies, many people
were suspicious of the scientific value and significance of this field.
Nevertheless, our bittersweet efforts have finally borne fruit: we have
laid a firm foundation for the further development of Futures Studies
in Taiwan, the Republic of China.
The Intellectual's Sense of Responsibility and Awareness
The inception and development of Futures Studies come chiefly from two
main sources: the intellectual's responsibility and awareness; and the
social reflection on social changes in the US and Europe 1.
While I was conducting research in the United States between 1968 and
1969, I found that the Republic of China on Taiwan was faced with a formidable
challenge never experienced before: Communist China was plotting against
us more gravely, and more and more countries drastically changed their
diplomatic policies against us, thus making the ROC more isolated internationally.
Moreover, our country by then was being changed from an agricultural
society into an industrial one; our society was at the transforming stage,
so we had to make some adjustments agriculturally, culturally and spiritually.
At that time I assumed that since I was an intellectual devoted to creating
knowledge, an educator who disseminated knowledge, and a government officer
who served the public, I had the responsibility a Chinese scholar was
supposed to have-- a broad-mindedness and an ambitious vision. I thought
that an intellectual in a modern time must have not only the ability "to
project future changes," but also the ambition "to create future changes" and,
especially the intelligence and courage "to make things happen for the
tomorrow that we expect to have."
At that same period, "automation" was vigorously developing in American
and European society. I could feel that American and European intellectuals
in general were influenced by the concept of a "knowledge explosion," and
that they saw the "future" as a progressive age in which their achievements
would continuously surpass their previous ones 2 .
For this reason, intellectuals experienced greater pressure from scientific
knowledge; at the same time, they were faced with the challenge of higher
standards in both behavior and values.
I was convinced that at that time the ROC was at a loss when it came
to addressing these trends, and that pressures from foreign and domestic
surroundings were looming. I then determined to engage in educational
reforms so that we could adjust ourselves to this wave of pressure. I
also promoted the "knowledge explosion" concept, awakening the public
to understand and adjust themselves to the new trends, to grasp the golden
opportunity to create the future 3.
Turning a New Page of the Futures Studies Movement
The seed of Futures Studies took root and flourished in the soils of
Tamkang University. Ever since its founding in 1950, Tamkang has faced
the future and human beings with a global perspective and broad-mindedness.
This is exemplified in the line of its University Anthem: "Oh, grand
Tamkang, roll out to sea."
To begin with, I selected from among numerous books on Futures Studies The
Year 2000: A Framework for Speculation on the Next Thirty-three Years,
by Herman Kahn and Anthony J. Wiener, the leading scholars on Futures
Studies, and asked Tamkang faculty, especially those in charge of Futures
Studies, to study the book intensively and expound its main ideas to
Tamkang students. I also introduced another important book by Kahn, Things
to Come: Thinking About the Seventies and Eighties, with the aim
of encouraging intellectuals and the general public of the time to
give attention to Futures Studies and to the development of future
trends. I felt by doing so we could seize the opportunity earlier than
others and narrow the distance between our country and the US, Europe,
Japan and other developed countries in regard to science and technology.
The two great works I mentioned above were included in our "Works of
Tomorrow" Reading List. Other volumes covered in this booklist were By
Bread Alone; Innovations: Scientific, Technological and Social; Reach
for Tomorrow; Only One Earth: the Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet;
Man and the Future; New Forces in World Politics; Political Science and
the Study of the Future; Loosing Ground: Environmental Stress and World
Food Prospects; American Higher Education: Its Future and Prospect; Knowledge
Explosion; and The Coming Boom: Economical, Political and Social.
Moreover, it took me more than ten years to complete four volumes of Education
in a Changing Society.
Accelerating the Dissemination of Futures Studies: The World
With the advent of the 1970s, intellectuals in the US underwent a great
ideological changes: they found that growth was not without limits. They
consequently proposed the "limits to growth" concept, believing that
if the natural resources kept on being explored and developed, then within
one hundred years people would reach the limit of their growth.
At this time I made the following appeal to the ROC society: Politically,
we had to build up a commonwealth system based on Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Three
Principles of the People; ideologically, we had to establish a symbiotic
system based on individual well-being; economically, we had to set up
an international joint venture system based on a regional division of
labor; academically, we had to integrate the sciences; and technologically,
we had to develop an immediate international communication system based
on the information industry. All these would enable us to grasp the explosion
of knowledge and to break through the limits of growth.
Accordingly, to encourage our citizens to pay more attention to the
future, to accelerate the building of the concept on the future, and
to broaden the level as well as the scope of research on the future,
in 1974 Tamkang University prepared for the publication of a journal
devoted to the study of future trends: The World of Tomorrow.
With the publication of this journal, I hoped to gather the strength,
wisdom, and knowledge of the elite from all sectors to arouse the general
public to be concerned about and deal with the future; I also hoped to
provide the public with a common forum to voice their views and to discuss
various issues, thereby accomplishing my aim of making people regard
discussion of "the world of tomorrow" as an integral part of their lives.
The World of Tomorrow was thus inaugurated in January, 1975.
The editorial board of this journal was divided into several sections,
inviting scholars and specialists from various fields of research to
contribute their wisdom; they formed the nucleus of our Futures Studies
organization. The World of Tomorrow had sponsored various seminars,
offering constructive suggestions about or drawing the future blueprints
of our social system and its institutions. During our visits to many
cities and counties in the ROC, we sponsored numerous seminars on municipal
affairs, eleven seminars on national affairs and other thematic seminars,
such as "the Youth and the Country," "Children's Theater," "Doctoral
Education in the Republic of China," "Current Economic Issues," "The
Future Development of Enterprise," "The Fifth Generation of Computers," and "Intelligence
Ever since its publication, The World of Tomorrow had fulfilled its
goals: the enterprising world has paid more attention to the concept
of "looking forward to the future," and the academic world has noticed
the development of Futures Studies. At least as importantly, the ROC
government has also begun to adopt a "future view" in their decision-making
, and so the "future" concept has spread, taking root deeply in the major
strata of our society and government.
Spreading the Futures Studies Movement
Futurist Alvin Toffler once commented that "Education was derived from
future images; it also produces future images." The function of education
is far-reaching, so I believe that it is only through the strength of
education that we can rapidly promote Futures Studies. If we can systematically
cultivate the future-concept among our students, then they will become
the disseminators of this concept. Moreover, our society will sooner
or later be handed on to these young men and women, so if every stratum
of our society is populated with young persons with future concept, then
our society will be renovated faster, thereby creating bright prospects 4.
For this reason, beginning in 1976, I offered a course on Futures Studies
at Tamkang University. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be a very popular
course, with crowds of students struggling to be enrolled. I took this
as evidence that students have a dreamy vision of "the future," and are
interested enough in it to study it in the classroom 5.
My course was offered as a lecture series, and it included scholars
and specialists who were invited to speak on their respective professionals.
This method served to establish a firm foundation in Futures Studies,
and allowed students to browse among various fields of study. The course
applied the idea of "inter-science integration" emphasized by Futures
Studies 6, which encompasses such wide areas as
information science, management, technology, ecology, nature protection,
economy, society, culture, life science, humanities and literature. Thematic
issues within these areas are addressed in alternate semesters.
To meet students' ardent demand, Tamkang University rapidly opened more
classes on Futures Studies. Class attendance also grew steadily; the
number of students per class even soared to as many as 360 , resulting
in the opening of five daytime classes, and another five in the evening.
Over one thousand students were taking this course every semester! To
help students who were interested in this subject to study further, we
opened a more advanced course called "Research in Futures Studies" in
the graduate school. The class was offered in the form of seminars, which
were jointly conducted by different professors specializing in different
In 1985, with the ending of this period of disseminating the "future" concept,
the curriculum on Futures Studies underwent its first renovation: adjusting
the percentage of the lectures series. From then on, a professor's teaching
hours were increased to five sixths of the whole semester period, with
the aim of deepening and strengthening students's comprehension of Futures
Studies, as well as to emphasize theory and methodology, so as to cultivate
students' research abilities.
The approach of 1994 witnessed another renovation: big classes on Futures
Studies were reduced to smaller ones with a maximum of seventy students
per class. Since the academic year 1996 there have been no more big classes
on Futures Studies; as a result, the quality in both teaching and learning
was under total control.
No sooner than this latest renovation, the "Futures Studies" course
was directed toward deeper and more specialized branches. The course
was subdivided into "The Future of the Economy," "The Future of Society," and "The
Future of Technology" -- each offered by a professional. Up to the present,
more than thirty classes have been opened per semester--approximately
seventy classes per academic year--making them the most popular courses
among students. Furthermore, the College of Business itself opened its "Futures
Studies and the Economy" in 1996.
"Futures Studies" courses are not limited to undergraduates ; they are
also taught in the graduate schools, held alternatively by the College
of International Studies and the College of Business: "Futures Studies" is
given in the first semester, while "Futures Studies in the Twenty-first
Century" is offered in the second semester. This lecture is presided
over by me. Besides inviting full-time professors to give lectures and
conduct small group discussions in their specialized fields, I also invite
off-campus scholars to my class. Students taking my course are strictly
required to present a research paper.
In addition to Futures Studies offered on campus, Tamkang University
also renders social services through contributing articles or giving
lectures on Futures Studies.
I have been invited to give long-term lectures on Futures Studies at
the Sun Yat-sen Institute on Policy Research and Development, and at
the Taipei Municipal Government Officers' Training Center. Moreover,
in my capacity as the Taipei speaker I initiated an academic forum at
the Taipei City Council to promote the concept of the future.
In addition, our university's professors of Futures Studies are often
invited to deliver lectures for social organizations, enterprising institutions,
private and public institutions; to give lectures or offer classes at
other universities; and to contribute articles to many newspapers and
journals--all of which contribute immensely to promoting Futures Studies
Establishing the Global System of Tamkang Futures Studies
With a view to accelerating the promotion of Futures Studies teaching
and research, Tamkang University established a Division of Futures Studies
in the University's Educational Development Center in 1995. The Division
is in charge of planning a Futures Studies system. It is responsible
not only for the planning of the university's Futures Studies curricula,
but also for the promotion of a Futures Studies movement in Taiwan, Asia,
and around the globe. In its two-year history, the Division has prepared
several enhancements of the existing Futures Studies interests of the
University as follows:
- To establish good relations between Tamkang University and the World
Future Society (WFS) and the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF).
- As a follow-up to sending two of our full-time professors to attend
the annual convention on Futures Studies four years ago, we have selected
two students and sent them on a delegation led by a professor to attend
the annual convention, thus cultivating students' ability to participate
in the international conferences, encouraging faculty members to present
papers at the conferences, and collecting the latest first-hand information
- To publish books on futures studies in a series entitled "The Great
Futures Series." So far we are on the process of publishing for the
Series such books as Futures Studies; Winners in the Year 3,000;
Great Trends of Asian Economy; Economy Futures Studies; Global Economy
Futures Studies; etc. Moreover, Another Kind of Future is expected
to be published at year end.
- To set up systematically a Futures Studies library. Currently we
have purchased two thousand volumes of books from the WFS, actively
expand our lines of collecting information, and file the summaries
of world's major dissertations on Futures Studies.
- To continue publishing the Journal of Futures Studies,
a scholarly journal in English. Up to the present, we have issued two
numbers. Besides, we are going to publish a newsletter entitled The
Great Futures so as to exchange information on Futures Studies and
to keep contacts with people concerned.
- We are preparing an annual "week of Futures Studies" to introduce
major themes on Futures Studies to on- and off- campus people, who
are concerned about Futures Studies. This year's main theme is "The
New Futures: Values and Culture."
Futures Studies under Tamkang's Three Major Policies
Futures Studies has been promoted by Tamkang University for nearly one
third of a century. With the changing of our society and our expectations
of ourselves, it has undergone several renovations, and every renovation
marks the re-starting of the Futures Studies promotion movement; it also
signifies the fulfillment of the task at every stage.
In retrospect, in the course of such a long period, hundreds of scholars,
specialists and ardent supporters have contributed themselves to this
great engineering; moreover, thousands of young students and aspiring
scholars have been deeply immersed in Futures Studies. "looking ahead
to the future" has now become a popular catch-phrase in our society;
obviously it has become an important mode of behavior and way of thinking.
Even the government authorities and the decision makers like to set the
twenty-first century or the first half of the next century as the indicator
while drafting their policies. In a word, although not every person can
become a Futures Studies expert, yet every corner of our society is filled
with "futurists" who are working hard to plan their own futures.
To Tamkang University, "Futures Studies" is not only a classroom course
but, more importantly, one of the fundamental goals that Tamkang has
long been cultivating. With the changing of domestic and foreign geopolitics
and the approach of the age of the Asia-Pacific Trading Center, Taiwan
will inevitably merge into the world's mainstream. However, Tamkang University
will not wait until the approach of tomorrow; instead, it will grasp
every movement of future trends and then strive to accomplish its goal.
"Globalization, information-oriented education, and future-oriented
education," Tamkang University's three major objectives, have long been
Tamkang's indicators in its march toward the twenty-first century. Under
these objectives, the Futures Studies movement will achieve another milestone
as Tamkang develops the following areas:
- Preparing for the inauguration of Tamkang University's Graduate
Institute of Futures Studies. By cultivating professionals in
the Graduate Institute, we can enhance the quality of our Futures
Studies research and provide our society with professionals on Futures
Studies research and planning.
- Providing sufficient information on Futures Studies. One
of our duties in promoting Futures Studies is to gradually establish
an independent research system. During the three decades of our growth,
we relied largely on information from overseas. Native Futures Studies
should be rooted in the soils of Taiwan. We hope that Tamkang University
will play its role not only as the birthplace of Futures Studies in
Taiwan, but also as the center of Futures Studies in Asia. We are looking
forward to a foreseeable future in which Tamkang University can catch
up with the other centers of world Futures Studies.
- Sponsoring international conferences. Although the environment
of the future concept has been established in our country and although
Futures Studies has won popular recognition and high regards, we still
have to merge ourselves into the world body of Futures Studies. Therefore,
in addition to publishing scholarly works and actively doing scholarly
research, we must jointly sponsor international conferences with the
world's major Futures Studies organizations. Our effort in this regard
will help enhance our achievements and duly win popular recognition.
The Future of Futures Studies in Taiwan
In Taiwan, Futures Studies has undergone three decades of development.
Governmental departments, civic organizations and individuals have all
gotten rid of the shackles of the traditional "history-in-retrospect" concept;
instead, they have adopted a "forward-looking" attitude and are vigorously
planning their lives. At a moment that many people are cultivating the
future with zeal and aspiration, Futures Studies in Taiwan should avoid
getting into a rut; the field should march forward into its "Third Wave--viz.,
the "Native Taiwan Futures Studies."
Taiwan's society has its origin in Eastern culture; it is remarkably
different from the Western societies politically, economically and culturally,
with characteristics unique to itself. The international aspect of Taiwan's
environment only enhances its distinctiveness from others; even though
it is necessary to introduce Western Futures Studies to this island,
it is still impossible to transplant the field entirely to Taiwan's society.
Sociologist Max Weber thought that it was impossible to modernize Eastern
societies. However, such societies (for example, Taiwan, Japan, South
Korea and Singapore) have proved that Weber's view is wrong, simply because
he didn't really understand their cultural characteristics. Likewise,
it did not enter his mind that, in the East, each country develops its
modernization on the basis of the condition of its own individual domestic
and outside environment!
For this reason, I have always believed that with Taiwan's drastically
changing society, we must recognize our environment before we can adapt
ourselves to the environment and further create the environment 7.
Moreover, since I have spent thirty years successfully introducing Futures
Studies to Taiwan, I must cultivate the seed of Futures Studies in the
very soil which holds the hope of all the Chinese people, and there let
it take root, burgeon, grow, bloom and bear fruit.
When we consider the trends of Futures Studies in Taiwan, we have to
examine seriously and carefully Taiwan's development during the past
ten years, for this was a crucial period. Several observations are in
order as we examine the effects of the past decade on Taiwan.
To begin with, the success of today's Taiwan can be attributed mainly
to the merging of Eastern (here, Chinese) and Western cultures, in addition
to the concerted cooperation of the government and its people, thereby
reaching an advanced stage of economic and technological development.
Second, Taiwan's international environment also differs from that of
any other country because it has always been under pressure from mainland
China. This environment is always a dangerous, exhausting challenge against
subversion; on the other hand, it is teeming with invigorating strength
and tenacity of life. That Taiwan can survive is due entirely to its
self-development, self-breakthrough, self-determination, and self-accomplishment.
Third, Taiwan is becoming a "developed" society. It has conspicuous
achievements in the democratization of its politics, the liberalization
of its economy, its pluralistic education, and the modernization of its
Fourth, as it enters the twenty-first century, Taiwan will base its
major developments on the Asia-Pacific Regional Operations Center, which
includes six specific operations centers: The Manufacturing Center, the
Sea Transportation Center, the Air Transportation Center, the Financial
Center, the Telecommunications Center, and the Media Center. The hope
of the people of Taiwan--as well as the prospect of their survival--will
virtually depend on these centers in the next century. They will also
be the major media of cooperation between Taiwan and the rest of the
Finally, Taiwan's society, like a new life that will soon come into
the world, is in a traumatic condition. This society is rapidly leaving
behind the previous wave of "industrialization" and is actively marching
into the age of "information technology." Taiwan is therefore undergoing
a chaotic condition of change 9, susceptible to
a loss of direction. At this moment the people in Taiwan are faced with
unprecedented challenges not only in the order of their lives, but also
in their ideologies and psychologies. They must bear their share of growing
All in all, Taiwan's Futures Studies must be rooted in the cultural
tradition of the East, coupled with the influence of Western culture,
a correct understanding of and proper adjustment to the "time conceptual
framework"(future-oriented education) and the "spatial conceptual framework"(globalization)
10, and the application of modern technology as well as intelligent information.
From all these will then develop Taiwan's native Futures Studies.
I have invited my colleagues at Tamkang University to begin examining
the issue of "Native Futures Studies." On the other hand, since I am
a senior advisor to the President of the Republic of China and a lifetime
educator and a devotee of Futures Studies, I must think more deeply about
and be well aware of the future of this economically strong global member--Taiwan,
the Republic of China.
Notes and References
- Clement C. P. Chang, Foreseeing the Future: Basic
Theories on Futures Studies. Tamkang University Publishing
- See May, Graham H., The Future Is Ours: Foreseeing,
Managing and Creating the Future, Praeger, Connecticut, 1996.
- See Slaughter, Richard A., The Foresight Principle:
Cultural Recovery in the 21st Century, Praeger, Connecticut,
- Toffler, Alvin and Heidi, Creating a New Civilization:
The Politics of the Third Wave, Turner Publishing Inc., Atlanta,
- Tapscott, Don, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of
the Net Generation, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1998.
- See Bell, Wendell, Foundations of Futures Studies:
Human Science for a New Era (vols. 1-3), Transaction Publishers,
New Brunswick, 1997.
- Morrison, Ian, The Second Curve: Managing the
Velocity of Change. Ballantine Books, New York, 1996.
- See Henderson, Hazel, Building Win-win World:
Life Beyond Global Economic Warfare, Berrett-Koehler Publishers,
San Francisco, 1996.
- See Joseph, Earl C., Chaos Forecasting Insight;
and Howard F. Didsbury Jr. (ed.), The Years Ahead: Perils, Problems,
and Promises, World Future Society, Maryland, 1993.
- Kaku, Michio, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize
the 21st Century, Anchor Books, New York, 1997.