As part of Tsinghua University’s strategic deployment towards the goal of building a world-class university and as a measure of global innovation, the Institute for World Literatures and Cultures (IWLC) is a university-level research institute for research and teaching, and its main function is to foster and develop new and cutting-edge research in the global humanities. By constructing a multi- lingual, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural platform for teaching and research in the humanities, as well as addressing common issues of the contemporary world, the IWLC gathers and trains the next generation of Chinese leaders who are capable of grasping variable logics of different civilizations in an international environment and adept at “narrating a changing China by interpreting the changing world” in answer to the demands for the humanities posed by Chinese academia and the nation’s strategy.
Since the approval of its founding on December 25, 2014, various projects have been undertaken by the IWLC. Its founding ceremony was held on April 12, 2016. Subsequently, the IWLC has held fourteen “Seminars in Global Humanities,” lectures by renowned international senior scholars. Rooted in the Tsinghua tradition of “connecting the East and the West, bridging the past and the present, and integrating the humanities and the sciences,” and oriented by the contemporary and future demand for cross-cultural talents, the IWLC’s goals include the development of expertise in both Chinese and foreign languages and literatures and the cultivation of bilingual and/or multilingual proficiency, cross-cultural perspectives, and the ability to conduct international dialogue based on Chinese values. The founding of the experimental Class of World Literatures and Cultures (the first class enrolled in 2015) was the initial attempt to practice the values above. As an important step in the implementation of this idea, in 2015 the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures underwent a disciplinary restructuring and established eight disciplinary groups according to each discipline’s nature and research topics. With the launching and managing of the eight disciplinary groups, the Department has positioned itself within a discipline that strives toward the goal of “joining the plateau of global humanities, strengthening the discipline with highest inspirations and by Tsinghua standards.” The IWLC and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures will cooperate and progress together, promoting the development of the eight disciplinary groups by way of talent introduction and discipline innovation.
In cooperation with the long-established Michigan Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan, the IWLC founded the Tsinghua-Michigan Society of Fellows in April 2016, creating the institutional mechanism for introducing first-rank junior scholars from Europe and America to China. In September 2016, three PhDs who graduated from the University of Chicago, Cornell University, and Princeton University became post-doctoral fellows of the Tsinghua-Michigan Society of Fellows, joining the teaching team of the Institute for World Literatures and Cultures.
The IWLC consists of two research centers and one forum (in preparation) – the Center for Cross-Cultural Theory (the “theory center”), the John King Fairbank Center for American Cultural Studies (the “cultural center”), and the Forum for Global Area Studies and Cultures (the “global cultural forum”). The main tasks of the IWLC’s research team and academic committee include China-UK, Sino-US, and Trans-Pacific cross-cultural studies, as well as the expansion of cross- cultural dialogues.