Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Fulbright University Vietnam, the first independent, non-profit, liberal arts university in Vietnam, officially signs a Memorandum of Understanding as part of a long-term effort to strengthen the cooperative relationship with the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam.
Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam shared: “One of the fervent missions of Fulbright is to “create the next generation of change-makers in Vietnam for a rapidly evolving world”. That is why the Fulbright community always strives to bring new teaching and learning approaches in everything we do. However, we strongly believe that one must study the past to better understand our identity as one nation, and only then, can we best prepare for future challenges. Therefore, this partnership with the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam is invaluable for us to continue creating new opportunities for the young generation to learn more about the Vietnamese history and culture, and thus, nurture their love for their motherland.”
According to this 5-year agreement, Fulbright University Vietnam and the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam will collaborate to organize academic seminars, displays, and exhibitions; digitalize and conduct research to promote a wide variety of cultural heritage, world documentary heritage, and Vietnamese archival documents and artifacts. These efforts will introduce to the domestic and international public the image of Vietnam, its people, culture, and history, and at the same time, contribute to the education of the youth, encourage their national pride and patriotism, thus, raise awareness and responsibility in preserving and promoting the cultural and documentary heritage.
“Partnering with Fulbright University Vietnam is an opportunity to bring invaluable documents that the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam holds preservation closer to, and more useful for Fulbright faculty and students, as well as the domestic and international audience. Today’s MOU signing ceremony is a meaningful start for which both parties will extend our potential and strengths to coordinate in carrying out numerous influential activities, helping the public to learn accurately and thoroughly about Vietnamese history and culture, hence, use that as a foundation of growth for Vietnam,” said Mr. Dang Thanh Tung, Director of the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam.
Also at the ceremony, Dr. Nora Taylor, Interim Provost of Fulbright University Vietnam officially announced the establishment of the Vietnam Studies Center at Fulbright, under the management and leadership of Dr. Nam Nguyen, Director of the Center and Faculty of Vietnam Studies. “As a Vietnamese university that is inspired by the American liberal arts but deeply rooted in Vietnamese context, Fulbright has a mission to reimagine Vietnam studies. Starting with Vietnam Studies as a major, and now with the Vietnam Studies Center, Fulbright is committed to becoming a leading place for researchers in Vietnam and abroad, an incubator for research, teaching and learning initiatives, with Vietnam being at their focal point,” Dr. Nora Taylor emphasized.
The Vietnam Studies Center is officially launched in April 2022 with the initial support from C+P Consulting Foundation to sustain and promote Vietnamese cultural values.
“It is my honor to be able to support the Vietnam Studies Center in this early stage. I believe that this will create more opportunities for Vietnamese youth to access, and gain deeper understanding and appreciation about the Vietnamese identity, core cultural values, and history, which will play as a strong foundation for them to face a VUCA world ahead,” shared Mr. Hung Vo, Advisor of C + P Consulting.
According to the MOU, the Vietnam Studies Center will collaborate with the State Records and Archives Department of Vietnam in major projects in 2022 such as the Tonkin Free School Conference (Hội thảo Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục), building a prototype in preparation for the development of Saigon’s Geographic Information System (GIS) through historical periods as documented in the archives, and structuralizing the French Cochinchina’s Sino-Vietnamese characters system (sổ bộ Hán – Nôm Nam kỳ) (1819-1918).
About Fulbright University Vietnam
Fulbright University Vietnam is Vietnam’s first independent, not-for-profit, liberal arts university. We are an expanding international team of educational innovators, with deep roots in Vietnam, strong political and financial backing, and connections to educational institutions around the world.
At Fulbright, we believe in the power of collaboration, transdisciplinary thinking, and risk-taking, and we understand that effective education requires putting students at its center. Globally integrated but deeply embedded in Vietnamese society, Fulbright is dedicated to providing a world-class education, utilizing the latest advancements in institutional design, teaching, learning, technology and other fields to create an institution that is both innovative and globally relevant. Importantly, Fulbright is committed to serving Vietnamese society through rigorous research and responsible civic engagement.
About the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam
The State Records and Archives Management Department is a governmental agency directly under the Ministry of Home Affairs to advise and assist the Minister of Home Affairs in state records, nationwide archives and document management. Currently, the National Archives Centers under the management of the State Records and Archives Management Department are preserving more than 33,000-meter-shelves of document written in Chinese, Sino-Vietnamese (Han-Nom), French, English, Vietnamese, etc. on papers, woodblocks, films, photos, tapes, discs, etc. formed and collected during the operation of various agencies, organizations, individuals, families, and clans, reflecting the entire politics, economy, culture and society of our country from the 19th century to the present.
These are important and valuable documents, significant historical evidences containing authentic information on numerous matters and events in all fields of social life, reflecting creative achievements of the people over the periods, contributing to the establishment and protection of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. These documents are valuable not only for historical research, but also in national construction and defense.
Vietnam Studies Center: Development Strategy (2022-25)
Dear distinguished guests and Fulbright University Vietnam’s leadership, faculty, and staff,
Following the remarks of Fulbright’s President Dam Bich Thuy and Interim Provost Dr. Nora Taylor about the role and mission of the Vietnam Studies Center, below is the Center’s development strategy from now until 2025.
As an integral part of the university, the Center will actively participate in the comprehensive cultivation of the next generation, equipping them with advanced scientific knowledge, a deep understanding of cultural identity, and civic awareness nationally and globally. In addition to strengthening the organization and personnel in 2022, the Center builds the development plan and scientific projects based on interdisciplinary, encouraging dialogues and cooperation, while also promoting socialization. Accordingly, the Center aims to achieve the following goals,
- Promote and facilitate research in Vietnam-related social sciences and humanities:
- In addition to supporting the research of Fulbright students, faculty, and associates, the Center will connect domestic with international scholars. The Center will regularly organize scientific conferences and training workshops at the university, as well as co-host scientific events in Vietnam and abroad.
- To be internationally recognized, publishing academic research is fundamental in our activities. The Center will create a new forum for Vietnamese scholars to participate in international scientific dialogues with foreign colleagues. This forum can be realized in the form of a peer-reviewed journal, which is recognized by international academics, entitled Fulbright Journal of Vietnam Studies, published in both English and Vietnamese. In addition, the Center will cooperate in publishing thematic studies and research reports.
- Aiming toward the interdisciplinary development of digital humanities in Vietnam Studies at Fulbright, the Center will encourage research in this field by granting annual awards for students with outstanding achievements. The Center will distribute research results through a wide variety of digital content, including essay films and documentaries.
- Scientific patronage for foreign scholars to do research in Vietnam:
- The Center will sponsor and provide scientific guidance for foreign scholars to come to Vietnam to research, and introduce them to archives centers, universities, research centers, and scientists relating to their field of interest.
- The scientific patronage will help Fulbright expand its network among international scholars, especially graduate students and young scholars who are coming to Vietnam for the first time. This is a potential resource for visiting lecturers and goodwill ambassadors for Fulbright.
- Assemble and develop scientific resources for Vietnam studies and research:
- A diverse resource of materials is the foundation for learning and research development. The Center will build a Vietnam Studies Reading Room as part of the Fulbright library system. The Reading Room focuses on collecting invaluable documents of Vietnam and about Vietnam and especially welcomes and honors all individual and collective donations of materials to the Reading Room. To date, Fulbright has received material donated from several world’s leading Vietnam studies scholars, such as Prof. David Marr (Australian National University), Prof. Hue-Tam Ho Tai (Harvard University), and Cornell University (USA).
- In addition to publications, the Reading Room also stores essay films produced by Vietnam Studies students in digital format.
- Develop curriculums and exchange programs to foster opportunities to study at Fulbright as well as at partner institutions in Vietnam and abroad:
- Up to now, the speaker series “The world beyond a book” organized both in-person and virtually by Vietnam Studies lecturers, with the dedicated support of the Communications Department, has gradually become a regular rendezvous for the Fulbright community as well as the public in Vietnam and abroad. This speaker series is an opportunity for Vietnamese and international scholars, authors, film directors, and artists to introduce their latest academic, literary, artistic, and cinematic achievements about Vietnam, thus, fostering dialogue with the public. It has brought the world to Vietnam and introduced Vietnam to the world.
- The Center will organize an 8-week summer program entitled “Vietnamese Culture Mindfulness” available not only for Fulbright students but also for students from other universities, Vietnamese students abroad, and international students. This is an opportunity for students from diverse cultural backgrounds to gather and learn about Vietnamese history, culture, religion, craft villages, and cuisine.
- The Center will also organize seminars to exchange Vietnamese teaching and research experiences between Fulbright lecturers and colleagues from various schools, colleges, universities, and research and archival institutions in Vietnam to share and spread knowledge and foster understanding and cooperation.
- The Center will play an important role in student exchange programs between Fulbright and other universities around the world, such as Columbia University and Dartmouth University (USA), University of Leeds (UK), and Zeppelin University (Germany). In collaboration with Vietnam Studies Faculty, the Center will jointly coordinate and organize Vietnam-related courses for both Fulbright and foreign students who wish to learn about Vietnam, create a culturally diverse environment for learners, and equip them with the qualities of cross-cultural leadership intelligence that is essential in the global context.
- Developing culture and Vietnamese courses for overseas Vietnamese students, international students, and researchers:
- Along with a specific scientific approach, the Center will develop language training programs (both conversational and professional Vietnamese) rooted in cultural context to help learners improve their foreign language proficiency while having the best socio-cultural experience during the field study period.
- Contributing to building a mindfulness culture at Fulbright:
- Through courses on mindfulness and other diverse activities, the Center aims to build a Fulbright Culture, specifically, a state of mindfulness, which involves a sense of self, civic responsibility, community-mindedness, society, and cultural origin.
In 2022, the Center will launch research initiatives in cooperation with the National Archives Centers, Fulbright University Vietnam to organize the Tonkin Free School Conference (Hội thảo Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục). Based in Ho Chi Minh City, the Center is deeply aware of the importance of local studies. On that basis, the Center cooperates with Archive Center II to build a prototype for the establishment of the Geographic Information System (GIS) of Saigon through historical periods as documented in the archives and structuralizing the French Cochinchina’s Sino-Vietnamese household registration records (1819-1918). In addition to the above-mentioned key projects, the Center continues to coordinate with the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association and VinUniversity to develop a digitization and development plan of intangible cultural heritage in Ho Chi Minh City, gradually expand to selected areas in the southern region, and focus on specific historical and cultural features of each area, such as ethnic communities, craft villages, performing arts, and cultural culinary.
Today, in celebrating the launch of Fulbright’s Vietnam Studies Center, we are well aware of the difficulties and challenges when setting the above development goals. Dr. Nora Taylor previously mentioned the decision to establish the Center was more or less of a ‘risk’, which we strongly agreed. We are not following the path but experimenting with new directions. What we call “the path” originally did not exist, but “as people walk this way, again and again, a path appears” (Lu Xun). The one who takes the first step is reckoned as a risk-taker. Yes, the establishment of the Center for Vietnam Studies in Fulbright is “risky,” but we are brimming with confidence. We are not alone. We have trust, support, and allies within Vietnam and abroad, which the State Records and Archives Management Department of Vietnam and C+P Consulting’s Foundation are important partners to that we are profoundly grateful. With the interdisciplinary, dialogue-cooperation approach, and encouraging socialization, the Vietnam Studies Center wishes to receive a lot of support on the long journey ahead. Entrusted by the university’s leadership board and colleagues, as well as supported by our community and society, the Center will strive its best toward our shared mission.
With all gratitude.