We suffered from the September 21 earthquake in 1999. After the 7.3-magnitude earthquake, we began engaging in community reconstruction. As the only national university in Nantou County, we are not only devoted to servicing the local community, but also promoting education and research. This has led us to integrate the concept of University Social Responsibility (USR) into the planning of the university’s development.
From 2013, with support from the Taiwan Ministries of Education and Science and Technology, our teams have operated community field work, participatory social classes, and research to collectively develop a local governance model.
We are embarking on a five-year plan to embrace innovative teaching, public and community services, and social responsibilities with the support of the Ministry of Education. The goals of this plan are to bolster the quality and sustainable management of Taiwan’s higher education.
Methodology and Projects
- To establish a USR unit
- Shui Sha Lien Research Center for Humanities Innovation and Social Practice (SSL Center)
- For integrating resources from different projects and sources, and for developing a theoretical framework, we have founded the SSL Center in 2015 for the following objectives:
(1) To be a platform for USR projects;
(2) To convene the Shui Sha Lien Regional Cooperation Committee on a regular basis;
(3) To supervise the co-learning programs for USR teams;
(4) To plan and promote "international networks of regional revitalization” for understanding global trends;
(5) To publish "Shui Sha Lien Humanities Innovation and Social Practice Series" for sharing the achievements of local governance models from the school, Taiwan government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
To develop USR teams by focusing on the environment, social care, leisure and hospitality industry, and education for vulnerable youths
We have organized four USR programs addressing the environment, local industries, and social and educational issues of Nantou County.
- College of Technology: Development of Green Shui Sha Lien: Intelligence × Pollution Reduction × Circulation.
- College of Management: Academia-Industry Collaboration -- Local Industry and Rural Tourism Development Program.
- College of Humanities: Constructing Partnership Network for Long-Term Care in Shui Sha Lien District: Education, Mutual Care, and Sustainable Development.
- College of Education: Flipping Learning Method for Vulnerable Groups in Shui Sha Lien rural area.
To offer research, development, and praxis for local participatory classes
The Center for General Education (CGE) of NCNU identifies its mission as "removing boundaries between the university and the local community." Based on local community resources, CGE initiates service-learning classes, participatory social classes, and micro projects on public action. CGE also brings together local resources, mentors, and specialists for establishing the "R Program." Under the R Program, we set up "R School" as a local learning spot to inspire a new vision of rural development and caring for the local community. NCNU has now developed its models of co-learning and co-working with the local community and public agencies by offering classes and programs.
We have been working with neighboring communities and businesses in Puli Township on issues including air pollution, water purification, and economic development of indigenous groups before the concept of University Social Responsibility (USR) was fully developed as a strategy for advancing higher education in Taiwan.
By empowering local residents to run their businesses with knowledge of local strengths and regional ecology and the applications of new technology, our teams are creating a network from which local communities can learn and benefit accordingly from the university’s research. Students also participate in these coordinated projects, which in turn advance their practical know-how and professional work etiquette.
Take, for example, a recent project conducted by us in response to worsening air conditions and growing allergy symptoms in central Taiwan. An NCNU team invented a small sensor that could detect fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and installed the device at over 250 places across central Taiwan. Now residents are alerted when air pollutants exceed recommended levels, and concerned individuals can come together to find ways to improve the situation.
Another project pertains to water conservation and industrial development. After the Sept. 21 earthquake that devastated Puli’s Taomi Village in 1999, NCNU joined in the rehabilitation movement to mend the village’s quality of life and restore its relationship with adjacent communities by improving the region’s water conservation capabilities and economic development through a more ecological and creative approach.
In partnership with Taiwanese nonprofit Industrial Technology Research Institute and the Council of Agriculture’s Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, an NCNU team has refined an industrial LED lighting system that not only produces lower levels of light pollution, but is substantially more cost effective for raising crops at nighttime ─ specifically for the plots of Manchurian wild rice tended by Taiwanese farmers.
A platform was established to create a network of professionals working together to promote sustainable solutions that reduce energy expenditure, waste, and pollution. The project team also gathered data on water-related infrastructure and resources within the greater Shui Sha Lien region to create an open database aimed at facilitating public cooperation and greater transparency.
Titled “Development of Green Shui Sha Lien: Intelligence × Pollution Reduction × Circulation,” the project led NCNU to be named one of the six USR Best Practice Award laureates among 50 participating academic institutions at the 2018 USR Expo in Taipei held by the Ministry of Education in July 2018.
Learn more about our USR implementation: