The Graduate Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies



The Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies was established in 2002 at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, as an interdisciplinary researching and teaching unit, with Master’s and PhD programs. The need for social, (inspired by the Frankfurt School critical theory) and cultural interdisciplinary studies, (along with localization studies) became its academic foundations with the aim to establish a cross-boundary approach to more deeply analyze social thought, critical thinking and cultural theory in a socio-historical context. The theoretical framework focuses on critical reflections, practices, symbolic forms of cultures with their ideologies and social problems as well as current politics, ethics and aesthetics. Students whose theses offer unique cross-disciplinary perspectives are especially welcome. Social and cultural areas of analysis are divided into three theoretical sub-fields:Taiwan Cultural Studies, East Asian Modernity, and Comparative Studies of Cultural History. The Institute provides practical, intercultural cooperation with the international academic environment to help students develop international perspectives in the process of academic exchanges.


Education Objectives

The Master’s Program stresses the development of abilities for critical thinking and keen observation of social and cultural phenomenon and their logical analysis. Graduate students present solid academic background and preparation for team work, decision making, selection of information and creative planning in the context of an interdisciplinary environment. Therefore they are perfect candidates to work in various types of cultural industries, publishing, media, museums, art institutions and research agencies. The Doctoral Program is focused on academic training and teaching. In addition, it develops firm abilities for critical thinking, observation and logical analyses of social and cultural issues. It encourages crossing the disciplinary boundaries of humanities, social sciences and philosophy in active exploration and cultivation of one’s mind and the ability for self-education.


Social, Cultural, and Academic Characteristics

An interdisciplinary background, high capabilities for research, mutual education and close cooperation between research teams each contribute to academic development.

Excellent research groups, from various social and cultural backgrounds, including such well-known names as:
Joyce C. H. Liu - Psychoanalysis and Cultural Theory,
Yuan-Horng Chu - Social Thought and the Urban Ethnography,
Kuan-Hsing Chen - Asian Cultural Studies and the East Asian State of Knowledge,
Shu-fen Lin - Political Thought and Radical Theories of Democracy,
Der-Liang Chiou and Jacob Te-Chi Wei - Cultural History and Contemporary French Thoughts as well as Western Classical Philosophy.
Hung-Yueh Lan- East Asian Intellectual History (especially concerning Japanese Intellectual History after the 17th century), Japanese Political Thought
Ming-Wei Peng-Modern Chinese Literature, Taiwanese Literature, Sociology of Literature

Our teachers are equipped with enthusiastic approaches toward academic research and apply their energy to work with political, aesthetic and ethical theory, particularly on issues related to the modern nation-state in East Asia. They have already attained considerable results and achievements.


Taiwan Academic Culture and Participation

The Cultural Research Institute in Taiwan is managed by Kuan-Hsing Chen - First Chairman, Joyce C. H. Liu - Second Chair, and Yuan-Horng Chu - Third Chair, who are cultural studies stronghold of the institute. Yuan-Horng Chu is an editor of the Cultural Studies Journal, and Kuan-Hsing Chen edits Inter-Asia/Cultural Studies, Each one of them represents the reputable academic weight of their publications. Their contributions to the university cannot be overestimated.


Curriculum Planning with the University System of Taiwan

Core courses (in social, cultural and political thought) are the main axes of deep theoretical thinking, while the development of Taiwan Cultural Studies, East Asian Modernity and A Comparative Studies of Cultural History, are three key directions. In addition, cooperation with Tsing-hua University and National Central University provides a wealth of electives near campus and access to cultural studies professors in the University System of Taiwan.

The promotion of the International Academic Lecture Series, international seminars, workshops and the international graduate student exchange programs enable students to enjoy diverse international perspectives, different environments and academic exchanges.


International Exchange and Cooperation Programs

Providing students with cross-cultural vision in multiple environments through academic exchanges.

We have maintained continuing social and cultural co-operation with international academic institutions, including the University of Paris VIII, the Department of Philosophy at Hanyang University, and The Center for Comparative Cultural Studies and the Cultural Studies Center of Shanghai University. The Institute regularly invites guests for the International Lecture Series, organizes international symposiums with international post-graduate workshops, and provides students with international exchanges and double-degree opportunities in order to help students apply for various scholarships.


A Diverse Student Body

Through training, theoretical thinking within historical contexts, field work and research, our student body stimulates a high degree of academic activity. Excellent domestic post-graduate dissertations are the basis for international exchanges.

Since the beginning, the Institute has attracted domestic and foreign students with different social and cultural backgrounds and different disciplines. The style of study emphasizes class discussions and promotes diverse viewpoints. Through the Institute's cross-disciplinary training, graduate students can not only have the theoretical ability to think, but can also engage in the historical contexts of their field work and research.

The academic activities of the students are characterized by a high degree of involvement. Domestic post-graduate dissertations include: Intellectual History, Cultural History and Cultural Sociology, Physical History, and Western Classical Philosophy. Those that are sent to attend international academic exchange activities have so far been well received.



The teachers have expertise in the domain of social and cultural phenomenon. Their studies concerning the issues support each other. Their readings of the social ideas and cultural theory is also highly relevant to theoretical background. The teachers recognize the importance of cross-disciplinary research, and the academic need to accept the challenge of cross-disciplinary studies, so they are willing to work together to create an interdisciplinary academic training platform.

· Social and Cultural Teaching Sources

· Social and Cultural Teaching Assistance

· Social and Cultural Long-term Cooperation


Our Focus and Curriculum Planning

Courses on Social, cultural and political thoughts are the core of deeper theoretical thinking, while the development of Taiwan Cultural Studies, East Asian Modernity and A Comparative Study of Cultural History are the three key directions.


The Core of the Theory

Social, Cultural, Political Thoughts:
These courses focus on contemporary continental thought and disputes, the nation-state and its future, post-colonial theory, psychoanalysis, visual theory, politics, aesthetics and ethics, subject and speech, life politics, memory politics, events and timing, sociology of the senses, and consumer society.


Three Key Directions

Taiwan Culture Studies:
This direction focuses on colonial modernity in Taiwan, Taiwan's social movement’s research, Taiwan's sub-cultures, criticism of cultural policy, video ethnographies, video cultural studies, and urban ethnographies.

Modernity in East Asia:
Courses include Asian contemporary themes, intellectual resources, Lu Xun and cultural criticism, Chen Ying-Zhen - thoughts and literature, Qian Liqun, Lu Xun studies and the Third World situation.

Comparative Study of Cultural History:
Topics include intellectual history, cultural history and cultural sociology, physical history, and history of Western classical philosophy.


Outside Academics, Social and Cultural Resources

In the combination of humanities, social and cultural schools, community centers and the Hakka college, teachers around Taiwan work with Jiaotong University, Tsing-hua University and National Central University under the Taiwan University System Cultural Studies Program.


Social and Cultural Demographics of the Students

We welcome students with different social and cultural backgrounds from humanities and social sciences interested in cross-disciplinary research and theories. Currently the Institute has 39 master’s students and 20 PhD students. In recent years, plenty of foreign graduate students have applied for admission to obtain a Master’s or PhD degree.

The Institute hosts students from different fields, including sociology, communication, history, literature (English/foreign languages), philosophy, art, political philosophy, international relations and law. Classroom discussions are promoted to fully present ideas and to stimulate diverse debates.

In the past year, enrolled students represented multi-disciplinary backgrounds as follows:

· Humanities (60%): Chinese (20%), Anglo-American Language (20%), French + German + Russian + Japanese (10%), History + Philosophy + Art (10%)
· Social Sciences (30%): Journalism and Communication (10%), Sociology (10%), Law + Politics + Economy (10%)
· Technical subjects and the other (10%): Mechanics + Electronics + Architecture + Medical Physics.

We have international students from: Poland, Latvia, Philippines, Thailand, Russia, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, China, India, Czech Republic, France, Italy, and the U.S.


Possible Social and Cultural Directions for a Master's Thesis

- Historical discourse and cultural phenomena
- Observations and analysis of the cultural activities and social movements
- Analysis and criticisms of cultural institutions, agencies and production mechanisms
- A purely theoretical study
- Post-master thesis
- Advanced thesis proposal


Social and Cultural Direction for a Doctoral Thesis

- Advanced thesis proposal