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Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies

The Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies (NorITS) is an interdisciplinary hub of teaching, research, public policy and cultural activities, whose main aim is to promote the development of academic study on Taiwan and take part in social and cultural exchanges between the British world and Taiwan.

NorITS is nestled under the Institute for the Study of the Asia Pacific (ISAP) which serves as the umbrella institute for Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire.

About us

Established in June 2018, NorITS is the outcome of a coordinated effort by five experts in Taiwan Studies, Prof Niki Alsford and Dr Lara Momesso, as NorITS Co-Directors, Dr Adina Zemanek, Dr Ti-han Chang and Dr Moises Lopes de Souza as members of the team, each approaching Taiwan from a different disciplinary angle, including history, anthropology, gender studies, migration studies, cultural studies, environment studies, literature and international relations.

Their coordinated efforts have contributed to the development of a new narrative of Taiwan Studies looking at Taiwan as a central and autonomous actor in the Asia Pacific region. Historically, it was a centre from which the Austronesian people expanded their cultural and linguistic influence throughout the Asia Pacific, and, in contemporary times, it is a hub between local, regional and global socio-political dynamics.

NorITS enjoys the support of an international network of renowned scholars as part of its Steering Committee. These include Professor Thomas Gold (University of California Berkeley), Professor Ann Heylen (National Taiwan Normal University), Professor Michael Hsiao (Academia Sinica), and Professor Gunter Schubert (University of Tübingen).

NorITS' mission is to nurture the next generation of Taiwan scholars through an engagement with teaching and research practice.

Meet the team

Honorary professors

Thomas Gold is Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. He taught in the Sociology Department there from 1981–2018. He served as Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies and Associate Dean of International and Area Studies, as well as Executive Director of the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His research addresses a range of issues in Taiwan and China. He is currently writing books on social and political transformation in Taiwan since the end of Martial Law and a memoir of his year in China, 1979–1980.

Gunter Schubert is Professor of Greater China Studies at the Department of Chinese and Korean Studies, University of Tübingen. He is also the founder and director of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT) at this university and Associate Research Professor at the Graduate School of East Asian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Prof. Schubert specializes in local governance and private sector reform in the PRC, cross-strait political economy and Taiwanese entrepreneurs operating on the Chinese mainland, and domestic politics in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He is also interested in theorizing the policy process in the PRC and in China’s “periphery politics”.

Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao is the Adjunct Research Fellow of Institute of Sociology, in Academia Sinica and Chair Professor of Hakka Studies, National Central University. He is also the chairman of both Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF) and the Executive Committee of Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), National Cheng-Chi University. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the President of Taiwan since 2016. His areas of specialization include: middle class, civil society and democratization in Asia; environmental movements, sustainability and risk society; and comparative Hakka studies in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Ann Heylen, PhD. K.U.Leuven in Chinese Studies is Professor at the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), and Executive Director of the International Taiwan Studies Center (ITSC), at the College of Liberal Arts, NTNU. She is a founding member of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS) and editor-in-chief of the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture (EAJPC, Intellect, UK). Her research covers the history of Taiwan, from 17–20th century, with special attention to Dutch Formosa, the Japanese colonial period (1895–1945) and more recently 19th century relations between the Low Countries and East Asia.

PhD students

The Formosan aborigines and the Spanish (1626–1642)

Previous histories of the Spanish settlement on Taiwan (1626–1642) have focused on the Spanish experience. The literature, however, contains some of the earliest written accounts of the island's aborigines. I hope to look at the current literature on the Spanish in Northern Formosa and extract details regarding the aborigines. I then hope to advance this research, finding new sources and reinvestigating the old ones to compile as complete a story as possible of aborigine life in Northern Taiwan in the early 1600s.


NorITS teaching and research is underpinned by formal relationships with academic partners and embedded in global academic and policy networks through the activities and research of UCLan’s academic staff. At UCLan, students study Taiwan at Undergraduate, Masters and PhD level. Furthermore, all students are entitled to apply for travel bursaries and to use the various language learning media and resources available via the university’s Worldwise Learning Centre.

In the second year of the Undergraduate Asia Pacific Studies programme, students can opt to take the Taiwan in the Asia Pacific Module. The top five students based on the assessment have the chance to go to Taiwan as part of the Travelling Seminar

Taiwan Travel Seminar

The Taiwan Travel Seminar is a student experience trip to allow a group of selected students who attended the module ‘Taiwan in the Asia Pacific’, to get to know Taiwan first-hand.

Accompanied by University lecturers, the trip involves a week of scheduled activities, events and meetings. Previously the group has visited the National Chengchi University in Taipei, National Taitung University in Taitung, National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, the National Palace Museum, Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, and National Museum of Prehistory. It also spent some days experiencing the Maokong area, enjoying Taiwanese local food in teahouses, exploring the Tamshui district to learn its colonial history, visiting the Taitung area to experience the Austronesian roots of Taiwan, learning Barkcloth techniques and staying in the Amis aboriginal village in Dulan.

"The Taiwan Travel Seminar was the highlight of my year! It was a great opportunity to experience what I have learnt in the classroom in real life and being able to visit such a beautiful place is something I never thought would happen. I learnt a lot about myself along the way while also discovering new areas of research for future projects as well as meeting so many amazing people! If you haven't been to Taiwan I recommend going!"

Atlanta Waples, Asia Pacific Studies student



2021 Taiwan Festival – Literature Strand

The 2021 Taiwan Festival – Literature Strand took place on the 8th and 9th March 2021. It hosted talks from contemporary Taiwan authors, Shawna Yang Ryan and Wu Ming-yi and academics, Dr Gwennaël Gaffric, Dr Ti-han Chang, and Prof Niki Alsford showcasing a range of Taiwan Literature covering topics of climate change and migrants.

UCLan Scholarship Discussion

On the 17th February 2021 NorITS joined the IKSU, NEPCAP, IJS, COAST, and ISAP for the UCLan API Scholarship Discussion. Students heard from funders and previous recipients of scholarships, study abroad opportunities and work placements available to students of UCLan. Speakers included: Assistant Director of the Education Division at the Taipei Representative Office (TRO), Canny Liao, Secretary General of the European Association of Taiwan Studies, Ms Isabelle Cheng, Pagoda Projects, Course Leader of MA North Korean Studies, Dr Sojin Lim, Lecturer in Japanese, Dr Mareike Hamann, Dr Robert Kasza.

Taiwan: New decade, old challenges? Roundtable

The Taiwan: New Decade, Old Challenges Roundtable discussion took place on the 13th January 2021. In the last years, Taiwan has been on the spotlight for several reasons: its advanced democracy has been seen as a model in a region still threatened by authoritarian governments. Furthermore, its quick response to the challenges brought by Covid-19 has been observed and celebrated around the world.

A new decade has just started, and Taiwan is in a position to make a difference regionally and globally as never before. In this roundtable we will be discussing the old and new challenges that have been presenting to Taiwan at the turn of this new decade, with the aim to understand its role in regional and global politics for the next future.

Including international speakers:

  • Professor Gunter Schubert, University of Tuebingen (Germany)
  • Dr Stefano Pelaggi, Sapienza University (Italy)
  • Dr Prashant Kumar Singh, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (India)
  • Dr Fabricio A. Fonseca, Tamkang University (Taiwan)
  • Donovan Courtney, Co-founder/Editor/Host at Taiwan Report, Co-publisher Compass Magazine (Taiwan)
  • Dr Greg Coutaz, Tamkang University (Taiwan)

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