International Research Conference: “Tonkin Free School & Vietnamese Liberal Arts Education Model”


Fulbright University Vietnam is honored to host an International Research Conference on the theme “Tonkin Free School & Vietnamese Liberal Arts Education Model” which is expected to take place from November 19 to November 20, 2022. The Conference is organized in the celebration of the 115th Anniversary of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc (Tonkin Free School) (1907-2022), 155th Birth Anniversary of Phan Boi Chau (1867-2022), and 150th Birth Anniversary of Phan Chau Trinh (1872-2022).

Although Liberal Arts Education can be defined in various ways, they all have one thing in common, which is to “offer a broad intellectual foundation for the tools to think critically, reason analytically and write clearly. These proficiencies will prepare students to navigate the world’s most complex issues, and address future innovations with unforeseen challenges”. The foundation of this educational tradition has been long rooted not only in “Western” society but also in “Eastern” countries, such as India, China, or Egypt. The establishment of Quoc Tu Giam (also known as the Imperial Academy) in 1076 was considered as the milestone marking the beginning of a liberal tradition in Vietnamese education. More than 830 years later, a multi-leveled educational institution was founded during the colonial period, making a significant contribution to the development of liberal education in Vietnam.

Founded in 1907 in Hanoi, Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc (also known as the Tonkin Free School) stands out as the integration of achievements in educational reforms from both the East and the West in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries to meet the urgent demands then, especially the all-inclusive national reforms for the sake of progress, equality, cooperation, and national independence. Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc’s short-term existence of just more than half a year stands in a maximum inverse ratio with its deep impacts on Vietnamese educational tradition, and on the development of Vietnamese society in a new direction in general.

As a university built upon liberal arts education, Fulbright University Vietnam proudly continues the Vietnamese traditional education founded on a liberal spirit of continuous self-improvement. In this spirit, Fulbright University Vietnam organizes this international research conference on the theme “Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc (Tonkin Free School) & Vietnamese Liberal Arts Education Model” to welcome a new and more comprehensive understanding of the liberal tradition in Vietnamese education in history as well as its longstanding values in contemporary global contexts.

The conference focuses on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Liberal tradition in Vietnamese education
  • Cultural exchanges between Vietnam and East Asian countries from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries;
  • Interactions among various educational systems in Vietnam from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries;
  • Multilingualism and multiscript practices in urban Vietnam in the early 20th century;
  • Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc: New discoveries and newly recovered documents;
  • Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc in national, regional, and global contexts;
  • Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc and Vietnamese literati and “Western-learning” intelligentsia, with a focus on Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chau Trinh;
  • The liberal spirit of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc;
  • Textbooks of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc: Contents and Pragmatic values;
  • Lessons from Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc for Contemporary Vietnamese (higher) education.
  • Digitizing Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc-Relevant Documents: Directions and Prospects

The conference is due to take place for one and a half days (1.5 days), including 2 plenary sessions (opening and closing) and thematic panels. In collaboration with the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam, an exhibition of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc and Duy Tan (also known as Modernization) Movement will be inaugurated on the same day as the conference and remain open for one week.

The selected participants will be responsible for their travel expenses; The Conference will provide 2-night accommodation (for those who are not from Ho Chi Minh City) and meals during the conference. Should there be any requests for further support, the Conference will consider it on a case-by-case basis according to its limited resources.

⏰Paper abstract/ proposal submission timeline: March 25 to April 30, 2022

📌For more information and abstract/ proposal guidelines, please refer to Call for Papers.

Please send us your paper abstract/ proposal form and all further inquiries and requests via email at

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