HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM – Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright), the first independent, non-profit liberal arts university in Vietnam, announces today the inaugural members of its Founders Circle. The total commitment of $40 million from these eight Founders and their families will support the first phase construction of Fulbright’s flagship campus in Saigon High-tech Park, Ho Chi Minh City.

This commitment highlights one of the largest philanthropic gifts to a higher education institution in Vietnam. The eight inaugural members include:

  • Henry Nguyen & Mrs. Nguyễn Thanh Phượng, Phoenix Holdings
  • Lê Văn Kiểm & Family, Chairman of Long Thanh Golf, Investment & Trading JSC.
  • Lê Nữ Thùy Dương & Family, Vice-Chairwoman of Long Thanh Golf, Investment & Trading JSC
  • Trần Trọng Kiên & Family, Chairman and CEO of Thien Minh Group
  • Cuong Do & Family, Former President of the Samsung Global Strategy Group
  • Lê Hồng Minh & Family, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of VNG
  • Vương Quang Khải & Family, Co-Founder of VNG and President of Zalo
  • Lương Tuấn Nghĩa & Family, CEO of Evergreen Invest

Fulbright is incredibly honored and tremendously fortunate to receive this extraordinary gift from our inaugural Founders. This significant support would help us turn our bold dream of a green campus into reality, a permanent home for the leaders of tomorrow where innovations, sustainability, creativity, and public service will always be nurtured and thrive,” says Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam.

The announcement of the Fulbright Founders Circle also represents a significant development of philanthropic work in Vietnam. While charity is widely practiced in Vietnam, private philanthropy, particularly in higher education is still limited. “Our Founders believe in the transformational power of education, and it is their faith in Fulbright’s relevance to the future of Vietnam that motivated this historic act of giving. As the beneficiary of such generosity, it is Fulbright’s responsibility to continue fostering impact not only in Vietnam but also in the world. We hope that this kind act of our Founders will inspire Vietnamese people to continue giving to education, a long-term investment that benefits generations to come,” she adds.

Fulbright’s flagship campus will be built in the Saigon High-Tech Park on a 15-hectare parcel of land donated to the University by the Vietnamese government. It will be the most environmentally advanced education complex ever built in Vietnam, committed to net-zero carbon emission. The campus will serve as a living sustainability laboratory for students, faculty, and the interested public.

In conjunction with the Founders’ gift, Fulbright University Vietnam is also the beneficiary of the $37 million via a 20-year direct loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to support the Phase I construction of accommodations, academic buildings, and dining and recreation facilities for up to 1,500 students. Fulbright University will continue its fund-raising efforts to complete the whole campus in the years to come, which is expected to accommodate up to 7,000 students across Vietnam.

This largest private gift in Fulbright’s history is announced together with the visit of the U.S. President’s Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry to Fulbright. As a veteran senator, Mr. Kerry has been playing a pivotal role in the normalization of the two former adversaries as well as the establishment of Fulbright University Vietnam.

Fulbright is honored to receive long-term support from the US and Vietnam government in forms of finance and land. These extraordinary gifts and support signify the public-private partnership approach to finance and build Fulbright University Vietnam. They enable the changes that not only better Fulbright but also benefit generations of Vietnamese people now and in the future as originally envisioned by the US and Vietnamese governments when they agreed to establish Fulbright University Vietnam as the first independent liberal arts university in the country.

About Fulbright University Vietnam

Fulbright University Vietnam, a new Vietnamese university with Vietnamese and American origins, serves Vietnamese and global society through teaching, research, and impactful engagement with the world. Fulbright develops highly educated, globally connected citizens prepared and inspired to engage with the challenges and opportunities facing Vietnam and the world.

The university traces its roots to a 1991 bill sponsored by Senator John Kerry to develop an exchange program for Vietnamese students and government officials. Following the success of this program, in 1994 the Department of State funded the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to partner with the Vietnamese university to establish the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, Vietnam’s first center of public policy. Both the exchange and graduate public policy programs are still in operation today and have trained over 2,000 public and private sector decision-makers.

In 2016, the public policy center incubated by Harvard transitioned to Fulbright University Vietnam, becoming the university’s first academic program. Today, Fulbright offers three academic programs – the Undergraduate Program in Engineering and the Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, and a problem-focused research program.

“Ethics” is a familiar subject that most of Vietnamese student has studied in the foundation years at their primary schools. However, “ethics” should not only be the early lessons of childhood, but also the accumulation of lifelong learning and practice. And most importantly, “Ethics” are not rigid disciplines forcing learners to follow, rather, “ethics” need to be nurtured in empathy, mutual understanding through critical analysis and flexibility in real-life contexts. The “Ethics in Practice” course was designed and taught with such spirit by Dr. Nguyen Nam, currently overseeing the Vietnam Studies Major at Fulbright University Vietnam. The course inspires a generation of whole-person learners to not only acquire Knowledge and Skills but also strengthen Morality – built on Asian philosophy (Buddhism, in this course) associated with Vietnamese identity.

Professor Nguyen Nam in a field trip with students, 2019

In recent years, especially during the uncertain time of the global pandemic, the concept of mindfulness, loving kindness or Vipassana meditation (Vipassana is Buddhist term meaning “seeing things as they really are”) has been gaining a lot of traction. The popularity of these Buddhist-derived practices indicates a positive tendency that the Vietnamese have paid more attention to their mental, spiritual health and the circulation of energy inside the physical bodies. However, when assessed critically, the normalization of these practices has blurred foundational philosophy, losing the original ethical values and even, in some cases, going against what the Buddha taught. Given that, the course “Ethics in practice: Buddhist Philosophical Ethics in Vietnam and Beyond – Fall 2021 invited learners to return the roots of Buddhism, explained practices related to moral philosophy, and encouraged them to reflect on contemporary practices from the Buddhism perspective. In addition to reading assignments and lectures like many other courses, a special feature of this course is a series of guest lectures from a diverse pool of Vietnamese and international scholars, as well as Buddhist and mindfulness practitioners, which gives students a multi-dimensional view of Buddhist Philosophical Ethics through both academic and religious perspectives.

No-self and Interbeing

One of the fundamental theories in the course is the Engaged Buddhism movement initiated by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. “Engaged Buddhism” means acting completely voluntarily in order to apply the Buddhist ethics, insights acquired from meditation practice, and the teachings of the Buddhist dharma to contemporary situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering, and injustice. While Vietnam’s tradition of incarnation dates back thousands of years, Engaged Buddhism emergence and widespread as a social practice in the mid-twentieth century has been perpetually embraced and is still relevant in today society. The basis of this practice is “no-self” and “interbeing”.

When the poem “Call me by my true names” by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was introduced in the class, it perhaps raised emotional and rational conflicts inside each student. Acknowledging that there is no “self/ ego” that exists independently, but always exists interdependently, formed by many factors, influenced by diverse relationships, which makes us aware of the “immutable ego” illusion constructed with nuanced complexities of things when talking about “the self”. Breaking out of the illusion “I am the one and only” is the first step to realize that “self” is a part of society and nature; and that is also where the spirit of forgiveness begins. Such transformative change is not easy to perceive, especially for those who were nurtured to embrace their unique selves and compete to assert themselves. Challenging yet possible, after 12 weeks, students gradually realized that “no-self” and “interbeing” were the foundation of empathy, togetherness and the path leading to effective social intervention, family harmony, and even the World’s Peace.

The “service-learning” is the unique assignment of this course which requires students to practice what they’ve learned from classroom in their daily lives. With the topic “Teaching English to disadvantaged students” of Group 2, Nguyen Thi Thuong (Class of 2024), who served the community engagement role, had an epiphany when reflected on her pursuit of ego.

When we promoted our workshop, there were more than 70 sign-up. However, the actual turnout of the event were only 20, which was really disappointing to my ambitious self. When I reflected on what I had learned, I realized I was wrong to put my personal desire above the needs of the students and I let go of that frustration. I thought it was great that I helped as much as I could and even sent the workshop materials to those who did not participate. This may sound minute and insignificant, but for a perfectionist like me, this is a huge step.”

Service learning report of Group 2 on “Online workshop for disadvantaged students”

Another group practiced “the beginner’s mind” (Shoshin according to Zen Buddhism) to design a programming crash course for the visually impaired students. “In Computer Science classes, the teachers usually give students coding examples and describe them with pictures, but that does not work for visually impaired students. So we [our group] converted all [text and pictures] into voice, which was not easy. Therefore, a very simple coding lesson took a whole day to be delivered,”  shared Ly Minh Tu (Class of 2023). Despite the limitation of time and technical aspect, the six-week virtual learning course had planted the seeds of confidence and passion inside the visually impaired students of the class, as a participant shared: “I used to think Programming is something that is just beyond our [the blinds’] reach, but thanks to you [the team], I now know that I can learn it by just trying a little harder.”

Ly Minh Tu (Class of 2023) was sharing about her team’s experience with service learning activity

Understanding and loving in mindfulness

In Vietnam, one of the causes that create gaps between parents and children and among diverse communities is the fact that they are living with or practicing different ethical values. That gap can generates suffering in the form of torture, in the name of love. “Every parent wants their child to be happy, but not everyone knows how to raise their child to be happy, because they usually raise their children in the way they were raised, which might not have turned out well, and so unconsciously, the vicious cycle ensues” shared Ms. My Yen, Mindfulness Coach, guest lecturer of the sharing session “Understanding and Loving, Parents and Children”. “As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh once said ‘Without understanding, love will make you suffocated’. Instead of being a free and unconditional gift, love becomes a conditioned relationship of attachment, grasping and process of existence, and that causes us great pain.” The love that comes from a clear comprehension is the foundation for each of us to be fully present in the present, accepting everything with a calm, compassionate attitude towards others and to ourselves. And that is the mindful practice of understanding and loving-kindness.

The “tree of life” model reminds us about the diverse backgrounds of human beings, so we should not apply ‘our tree of life’ on ‘other’s tree of life’

Managing our instinctive reactions constructed in the environment that we grew up is easy to say but extremely difficult to do. It requires the practitioner to slow down, take a step back and mindfully observe the thoughts, feelings and the structurization of behaviors, to hold themselves from releasing the tempering expression and action. Being “mindful” does not mean denying the state of emotions that are often viewed as negative, namely anger or grief, but recognizing the arising of those emotions, observing the train of thoughts inside our physical body, thus, foster a calm and proper attitude in the spirit of Four Immeasurables. Being kind and compassionate to yourself is the beginning of a transformative journey of mind and action in the interaction with other beings.

One of the most memorable experiences in the lecture by Ms. My Yen was “The gift of 1 minute – 3 steps of self-compassion”: acknowledge your feelings, give yourself a pat on the back, and say kind words to yourself.  “At first I thought it would be nothing if I hug myself, but then I was able to sense warmth, I felt calmer, a calmness of tired days, I shuddered,  Nguyen Thi Thanh Lam (Class of 2024) recalled.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Lam (Class of 2024) was sharing her feeling after practicing 1-minute of self-compassion

“Thank you for helping me connect with my parents” – a few words of a student at the end of the lesson on Understanding and Loving opened a promising journey of loving in mindfulness, not only in relationships with parents, but also with other social relationships, to be able to empathize and connect with each other more effectively.

Great questions of “human life”

Besides understanding theory and its application in life’s context, the course also allowed students to observe and analyze contemporary practices that are considered to be derived from or related to Buddhist teachings through the research-intensive final team projects. In place of traditional exams, students were split into eight groups to approach different aspects of life, which presented a feast of knowledge, in-depth discussion, and foundation for further research. The topics of the groups varied from Vietnamese people’s perception of Buddhist concepts such as Karma, Reincarnation; to the views on gender equality in Buddhism, the “Le Hang Thuan” ceremony at the temple, the release of living beings and the relationship between other socio-religious practices, such as Buddhism and vegetarianism or tolerance of Buddhism towards the LGBTIQ+ community. There were monks, nuns, and experts in mindfulness joining students’ presentations, therefore, the constructive discussion and in-depth multi-dimensional explanations were effectively monitored.

Snapshot of video presentation of Group 5 – “Kill ’em with kindness” raised a critical view on the popular social practice “life release”.

Accompanying Mr. Nguyen Nam and the students during the 12-week course, Ms. My Yen proudly said “I really admire the class: under the guidance of Mr. Nam, young students were brave to raise such great questions, the questions of human life, not just small problems.”. Encouraging students to raise great questions, to challenge established norms, to analyze and discuss issues together under an interdisciplinary and academically liberal approach, is one of the main pillars in educational practices that Fulbright University Vietnam pursues.

The “Ethics in Practice” course expanded the students’ understanding on themselves and social ethics from a Buddhist perspective, inspired them to practice “mindfulness” in managing emotions and behaviors, and above all, contributed to shaping the pillar of “Morality” in young minds, so that “our students not only come to know important things, we want them also to be able to do important things, learn to empathize and work with others, all while living purposeful, fulfilling lives,” Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam affirmed.

An Bình

All the things that are happening in the world of technology are directly impacting education and learning systems.Technology has a profound impact on today’s youth. Educational Technology (edtech) is modernizing the entire student experience but could pose many challenges if not implemented with carefully crafted plans. As a pioneering institution to reimagine higher education for Vietnam, Fulbright University co-hosted the inaugural EdTech luncheon with EdTech Asia and InnoLab Asia to bring leaders of all fields in and discuss the future of edtech. In the opening panel on “Acceleration of Digitization in Higher Education in Vietnam,” discussing how universities should change to adapt in a world transformed ever since the pandemic. Here, with the wisdom of esteemed panelists and the participation of curious attendees, many intriguing questions and ideas were sparked.  

By the numbers

As social distancing prolongs worldwide, the disruptions of education for students across the globe continue. In fact, the numbers are astonishing: according to UNICEF, over 1.5 billion children’s education was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to be throughout 2021. Luckily, education was able to continue despite the disruptions thanks to the vital support of technology. As more and more educators lean into technology, we are presented with the opportunity to reinvent education.

Amidst the chaotic waves of Covid-19 in the last year, the education technology sector received a major boost as many institutions shifted to remote learning. Dr. Nguyen Chi Hieu, CEO of IEG (Innovative Education Group), quoted a new report from Temasek Holdings, Google, and Bain & Company that “40 million people came online for the first time in 2020, pushed the total number of internet users in the South East Asian countries to 70% of the population.” There was also a spike in the amount of new registered users on massive open online course (MOOC) websites, particularly Coursera alone received 20 million new users and had over 35 million new course enrollments in just half a year since mid-March. These numbers may seem overwhelming and the virtual learning space may come as a new thing to many of these new users, but it was not born yesterday. Edtech has been around for quite a while already, the pandemic just brought it to light.

Although edtech has been made more common during Covid-19, it is still underestimated. Mr. Charles Lee, Founder of Coder School, remarked that “When you think about the impact of technology, on education, and across all industries, I think historically, people always underestimated the impact technology would have.” There is tremendous potential for the entire edtech space to be explored and yet utilized. What we have seen in the past year with remote learning, Zoom classrooms, and online courses are only a scratch on the surface of what edtech is.

The edtech space also includes learning assistant tools like AI analytics, AI-assisted grading; all sorts of content, ranging from online content, multimedia content, to interactive content; many learning mediums, which come with classroom aids and learning management systems like Blackboard and Canvas, to name a few. Forbes projected the digital market for learning and teaching to reach $325 billion in 2025, and this prediction was made before the coronavirus happened. It is the quickest growing market in the education industry (900% growth since 2000 according to a research by KPMG), and with the pandemic bringing more attention to it, the market is thriving at an unprecedented rate.

Efforts invested and the road forward

Dr. Hieu explained that “so far, we’re only focusing on increasing the accessibility and the flexibility of remote learning and have yet to tackle the quality metrics of higher education going online.” With the uncertainty as to when in-person teaching will resume, it’s important for us as educators to accept that hybrid learning will be here to stay, and we should start to explore the benefits technology can provide in developing the skills of tomorrow. In a world where technology is shaping every corner, education must take an evolutionary leap for students to thrive in our digital society. And that requires institutions leaders to sit down and figure out some way to move forward.

One of Fulbright’s many initiatives to bring world-class education to Vietnamese students is collaborating with international institutions. In 2020, Fulbright has signed 2 MoUs with Princeton University and Dartmouth College to offer digitally-enabled co-learning environments, namely Princeton’s Global History Lab and connected courses with Dartmouth, so that Fulbright students can participate in the most forward-thinking pedagogical initiatives globally. President Dam Bich Thuy has noted that “COVID-19 has clearly shown, for better and worse, that our world is connected like never before. We are in this together, and we must solve this together. In a time of uncertainties, I am proud to see Fulbright University Vietnam embrace this vision for international collaboration, further enriching the academic dialogue between our countries, as well as educational opportunities for our students.

These collaborations also expand some blended learning models, in which students learn at least in part through online learning, with an element of self-control over time, place, and path. The more prominent blended learning models become, the more they move education away from the ‘one size fits all approach’, offering students the opportunity to go at their own pace, thus reducing stress and improving retention for both fast and slow learners.

Initiated by Fulbright and IEG Foundation, Pioneering Educators Network (PEN) workshops have been introduced as an effort to promote innovative teaching methods, updated educational trends, cutting-edge pedagogical practices, and the liberal education model in Vietnam as well as in the region. Among these seminars was one about digital learning and teaching by Dr. Ian Kalman, a professor at Fulbright, to share some theoretical perspectives as well as some practical strategies to approach e-learning for educators from across Vietnam. His lecture and presentation opened up many dialogues about how to effectively engage students in virtual classrooms because just as digital technology offers new possibilities for teaching and learning, it also poses many constraints that need to be addressed. “There is also a material and infrastructural need when it comes to digital accessibility, which is not equal among the students. Digital teaching can reduce, but also reinforce inequality,” Dr. Kalman assessed.

Additionally, as we push edtech further and everything becomes artificial intelligence and machine learning, there stances a threat for education to focus more on the ‘superficial’ than on deeper conceptual understandings. Without careful implementation, edtech’s role in ‘making assessment more effective and efficient’ may lead to a disregard for creativity and critical thought. On that note, Mr. Thanh Bui, Founder of Embassy Education, posed a thought-provoking question: “What is the picture of universities in the future? Right now, we have an opportunity to reconsider not just edtech, but also reimagine the higher education systems and how it would progress in our very different world post-pandemic.”

Edtech that connects

If new models for both teaching and connecting emerge in the wake of the pandemic, they will be put to an even greater test in the years ahead: preparing students for a labor market rife with inequalities that have only worsened during the recession. With the rate of everything becomes digitalized very quickly, in 20 years, everything will be automated and as cliché as it may sound, the most critical skills for this young generation to focus on developing is actually human to human interaction.

The question then remains is how do we bring the humanistic side to edtech. We need to consider the whole picture of education and see where the new technology fits in to enhance these learning experiences. Just because you have the potential to do something or the ability to do something does not mean that you should do it,” Thanh Bui postulated. That is a question for all of us to ponder upon, and that question may not have an answer, but rather require the step-up of industries’ leaders to be the heroes, to inspire other people, to ignite passion and more forward-thinking innovations.

Technology is understandably a poor substitute for maintaining the strong connections we miss seeing each day. But using technology to foster new connections beyond students’ reach actually plays to tech’s competitive advantage: overcoming time, geography, and cost barriers to growing their networks. As a matter of fact, Fulbright held a number of virtual events in 2020, such as David Rubenstein’s How to Lead virtual talk and the YSEALI online panel on the Future of ASEAN, which proved that “we can effectively use technology to try bridging the heroes and create a support network to inspire people,” Charles Lee concluded.

‘Edtech that connects’ holds the immense potential to connect students to people – experts, mentors, near-peers – who can help them reach their goals. Over time, it could help education systems address the social side of opportunity gaps by disrupting the inherent limitations of students’ networks. Edtech is also proving powerful drivers of outcomes that educators are starting to pay more attention to connecting learning to real-world projects and people, expanding students’ professional horizons and connections, and building students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference.

As the majority of students around the world begin yet another term at home, we are faced with the opportunities to create a new (and somewhat improved) normal for students and teachers. The challenges, such as technological infrastructure and access to hardware, are surmountable with time and effort. With the right approach, technology, and resources, we can prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, on platforms that are becoming more accessible and using methods proven to be more powerful. As students continue to grow hungrier and more inquisitive for knowledge and technology, reimagining higher education is something to be excited about, and it all starts now.

Bảo Trâm

“Don’t let uncertainty scares you. It may be your blessing. Just be open and embrace all the unusual twists and turns and I’m sure you will find your calling one day” – President Dam Bich Thuy noted in her keynote Commencement Address at Carthage College.

In late May 2019, Fulbright University’s President Dam Bich Thuy was invited to deliver a keynote speech at Carthage College’s Commencement Ceremony. While Carthage President Swallow encouraged her to share some personal advice about her unusual career as a banker and then a university president, Thuy said she would like students to take her sharing today as some questions to ponder sometime.

Speaking to hundreds of graduates at Carthage College (a liberal art college in Wisconsin), President of Fulbright University urged students to keep their plan but open their mind about unexpected things that may happen.

“Be prepared and ready for things outside your comfort zone and sometimes could be seen as career risks”, Thuy said.

She also noted a lesson she learnt throughout her 35-year long career that success cannot substitute values.  “When you are not sure if the risk is too big to take, or an unexpected opportunity seem too strange for you to access, you can go back to your core values. There’s something that you treasure and that will help you to make a right decision”.

Watch President Thuy’s full Commencement Address in this video:

Budgeting & Managerial Finance is one of two new courses in this semester for Leadership & Management (LM) – Master of Public Policy. In this subject, students are introduced to modern management tools such as Balanced Scorecard and KPI.

In order to help them master practical application of these tools to a specific company context, the teaching team at Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management organized a fieldtrip to Ernst & Young Viet Nam (EY Vietnam).

EY Vietnam is one of the world’s four leading audit and consulting firms specializing in providing audit, tax, financial transaction and advisory services. In Vietnam, with the ability to provide high quality services, insights and in-depth knowledge in the industry, EY has advised a variety of Vietnamese authorities, state-owned enterprises, commercial banks, private firms and FDI corporations.

On behalf of EY Vietnam, Dr. Tran Vinh Du, Partner – Transaction Advisory Services Leader along with other speakers, who are senior managers at EY in transactions and advisory services presented to LM students building blocks of KPI and Balanced Scorecard and demonstrated how these tools are implemented in different enterprises in Vietnam irrespective of their large or small scale.

Graduate education at Fulbright School is not constrained within theoretical knowledge. New models presented in textbooks update students with advanced managerial tools but fail to expose them to examples of how these tools are manifest in practical settings in Vietnam. Sharings of EY experts from their first hand experiences working with local firms help students grapple with problems in their learning and in work.

Quynh Chi

When searching for professional advice, our undergraduate students often hear from renowned experts with decades of experience. Last week, they benefited from engaging with a group of outstanding young leaders working across Asia, who reminded the students that your age does not dictate your potential impact.

Five representatives from the Luce Scholars program, an exchange program that brings 18 young Americans to Asia for a year-long cultural and professional placement, were welcomed to Fulbright. Representing diverse fields from women’s health to painting, the Luce Scholar representatives joined their fellow Scholar and Fulbright’s Director of Strategy, Andrew Maguire, for an afternoon with Fulbright Co-Designers.

First, students joined the scholars for a panel on college and career pathways. Each scholar shared with students their most formative courses, which included a course of Race, Gender and the Environment that influenced Mayra Tenorio’s interest in Women’s Studies, to a Model United Nations course that built John Phillips’ skills in international relations.

Each Scholar acknowledged how much their initial career plans evolved over the course of their college career. For example, Casey Herrick entered Wesleyan University planning to major in Mathematics, but when he found the discipline overly rigid, he found a dynamic and creative outlet in Studio Art and Psychology.

When a student asked how the scholars manage to navigate uncertainty in their pathways of development, Maddie Rita encouraged the students to “pay attention to the moments when going to class or studying a certain subject doesn’t feel like a chore, but a pleasure.”

Those fields or issues, she suggested, are the areas students should dive deeply into. The scholars also noted the power of mentors, both peers and more senior colleagues, but as Kelsey Harpham cautioned, students must also learn when to heed advice and when to recognize that one person’s opinion, no matter how powerful, should not necessarily dictate your path.

In the afternoon, the Luce Scholars enjoyed break-out sessions where they had a chance to share more deeply about their areas of expertise. These simultaneous sessions captured the diversity of Fulbright students’ interests, as they discussed topics on motivations behind art, the intersections of diplomacy, negotiation and environmental protection, and feminism from a sociological and health perspective.

The Luce Scholars were struck by the maturity and engagement of the Co-Designers. As Mr. Phillips shared, “I spent four semesters work as an assistant teacher at Tufts University, a prestigious and competitive undergraduate American university… At Fulbright University Vietnam, I could have been back in Boston in the halls of American academic excellence.

Fulbright students were bright, engaged, and thoughtful. They demonstrated as much confidence as I ever saw in Tufts students, but they fused their confidence with a clear, genuine yearning to learn. They posed critical questions, shared their ideas, and sought advice with humility and candor. Whatever they are being taught, they are learning it well.”

The Luce Scholars Program was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to increase awareness of Asia among future leaders in American society. The fellowship program provides stipends, language training and professional placement for one year in Asia for 15 to 18 scholars each year. This year, the foundation considered nominees from 75 colleges and universities.

Our conference, New Approaches to University Education in Asia was envisioned as Vietnam’s first (and largest) international education conference; focusing on the changing landscape of higher education locally, regionally, and globally.  

We envision this as the first of many international conferences demonstrating the ways in which new educational models in Asia are not exports of Western models focused on the past, but rather locally-grounded and home-grown innovations focused on the future. 

Speakers from all over the world will present their research and experiences in higher education, with opportunities to connect with future collaborators.  

As Fulbright University is Vietnam’s first private non-profit liberal arts University, this conference is a manifestation of our institutional commitment to education and innovation.  Educators and administrators, curious members of the public, and any other interested parties are invited to join.

This conference has been made possible with the generous support of the Coca Cola Corporation and Fulbright University Vietnam. 

The details of the conference are as followings:

* Date and time: 8 a.m. April 20 – 4:30 p.m. April 21, 2019
* Address: Fulbright University Vietnam, 2F, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

*Registration: http://tinyurl.com/fulbright-conference-2019

Dr. James Hall shared a larger narrative of universities’ formations and changes during his lecture, Intellectual Sources for Understanding Individualized Higher Education. At the talk, he said it is important to recognize the ways in which Fulbright’s particular experience is not long, but the critique that Fulbright joins is long.

“Thinking about joining this discussion breaks us from a consumerist ethos that we are choosing something just because it is new,” he said. “This is not a new iPhone. There is a long story behind you.”

Hall described universities’ origins by giving examples of some of the first universities created. At Yale University, men were educated to serve the church and state. At the University of Berlin, Alexander von Humboldtcreated departments to produce specific, new knowledge. Other universities began to adopt this model.

Hall also referenced intellectuals including John Dewey, Pual Goodman, and Ivan Illich whose perspectives shaped conversations regarding science, the mind, and individualized approaches to study.

“You get a growing sense of liberation and that education as action and experience is needed,” he said. “Institutions become places where you embrace the fullness of your personhood as you imagine it.”

Working through history, Hall then said the aftermath of World War II and the 1960s served as two pivotal moments in the development of U.S. university culture. First, after World War II, the U.S. reflected on what universities were producing. Institutions then developed a dual sense of mission to produce engaged citizens for the country on one hand and serve as engines for economic development on the other. Regarding the 1960s, Hall depicted social turmoil that led to coalitions who worked to re-center the learning experience on undergraduates.

Hall acknowledged that knowledge production and economic development are certain components of modern institutions but warned that universities should remain focused on the classroom relationship.

“You have relationships with faculty and investments in building a learning community,” Hall said. “Universities can be large. They can be elaborate research institutions. But, if somehow, they are missing out on the mission to stimulate students’ minds, something is wrong.”

Hall ended by introducing Fulbright as part of a new wave of development in university innovation. He challenged Fulbright’s students to take part in the higher education conversation.

“You think about management, economics, and chemistry and always do so with the environment of Fulbright and doing things differently in mind,” he said. “If this is a co-design year, push your faculty to think more about what kind of institution you want to build together. This is your responsibility to each other as learners and to your community.”

Dr. James C. Hall joined RIT in 2014 as the Executive Director for the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, later renamed the School of Individualized Study. Previously, he was director of New College at Alabama and executive director of the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning. Prior to the University of Alabama, Dr. Hall taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Hall completed his Ph.D. and MA in American studies at the University of Iowa. He has also completed a MA in religion and culture and BA in English at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. His research and professional interests include African-American literature as well as higher education innovation and reform.

Fulbright University Vietnam held a meeting where Fulbright reached out to many influential members of society who have experience in the field of education.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ryan Derby-Talbot and Fulbright University Vietnam President Dam Bich Thuy shared their passion for and perspectives on liberal arts, the purpose of a university education, and how we care for a graduates’ success in future work and in life.

There were positive comments, reflections, suggestions, and encouragement from the gathering.

Testimonials about Fulbright’s Undergraduate program:

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime project because of the extent to which it’s the right thing right now for Vietnam.

If you look at what’s happening in Vietnam right now, it’s an amazing country and it’s growing very quickly; but it’s also a country that faces some enormous challenges from climate change, from automation, the shift in the economy, and the change in what the nature of work is in the 21st century.

So if ever there was a time that Vietnam needed education and needed to rethink what their share of education looks like, this is that time,” – according to Dr. Mark Somerville (Olin College, U.S.A), Senior Academic Consultant of Fulbright University Vietnam.

“Applying successful education model that are widely used since hundreds of years ago would be much easier for Fulbright.

However, society can see that these education models have become inadequate when everything is constantly changing in this day and age, influenced by the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Many jobs are at risk of disappearing. Thus, it is important to prepare students for the technological changes; and that is why the liberal arts education plays such an important role,” shared Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam.