The 2021 Annual Presidents’ Forum of the Alliance of Asian Liberal Arts Universities (AALAU)

The 2021 Annual Presidents’ Forum of the Alliance of Asian Liberal Arts Universities (AALAU) hosted by Northeast Normal University (NENU) was conducted successfully on 11 November 2021. It was conducted in an online format in light of the evolving pandemic and the associated travel restrictions.


Guided by the theme of “Liberal Arts Education: Mission of the Times and Implementation Path”, over 70 educational leaders and scholars representing 19 universities from India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Chinese mainland and Hong Kong shared updates on the best practices and exchanged views on the future development of liberal arts education in the region.



Prof. Liu Yichun


Prof. Liu Yichun, President of NENU and Prof. Leonard K Cheng, President of Lingnan University delivered the opening speeches. President Liu declared that the key mission of future education is to cultivate students’ mindset and ability to address the “uncertainty”. Universities are responsible for strengthening cultural and moral education and enhance students’ ideological awareness, morality and cultural literacy. Under the new normal of COVID-19 pandemic, universities should fully utilise the existing international exchange resources and make efforts to maximise internationalisation locally by shifting from the traditional international cooperation model that mainly relies on physical mobility to the new model that involves rich technological, “Smart+” and “Internet+”, elements.


President Cheng shared his thoughts on the skills and traits that are required for all talented individuals in the 21st century. He highlighted the “4Cs” for life and career development: Critical thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration. He also commented that through holistic education, students should be able to develop “4Cs” and other traits including self-consciousness, personal and social responsibility and life-long learning spirit that can enhance their future career competence. In terms of holistic education management, multiple approaches should be adopted and a quality assurance system should be built. With an effective evaluation system, students’ comprehensive and sustainable development can be enhanced.


Prof. Huang Futao, Professor of Research Institute for Higher Education of Hiroshima University, gave a keynote speech titled “Liberal Arts Education in Japanese Universities”, which introduced the educational goals and execution of liberal arts education at the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Hiroshima University. He pointed out that the liberal arts education in different countries would need to undergo an evolution process from external introduction to localisation, in order to better adapt to the local conditions.


Prof. Li Manli, Professor of Institute of Education of Tsinghua University, delivered another keynote speech on “High School-Undergraduate"Duancha" and the Direction of Liberal Arts Education Re-Examined”, in which she shared the situation of “disconnection” (Duancha in Chinese) between high school and university education in the U.S, Japan and China. She also emphasised the importance of systematic and comprehensive education reform and universities’ proactivity and autonomy in achieving successful transition from high school to university education.


At the sub-forums held in the afternoon, university representatives from Alliance members shared their experiences and had fruitful discussions on the topics “Liberal Arts Education and Interdisciplinary Talent Training”, “Liberal Arts Education and Cultivation of High-quality Teachers” and “Curriculum Construction and Teaching Reform of Liberal Arts Education”.  


Conference Manual