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China's first UNESCO Chair on rural development launched at Peking University
May 21, 2024
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Representatives pose for a picture at Peking University's School of Arts, where the launch ceremony and symposium were held.

Peking University, May 21, 2024: Peking University (PKU) and UNESCO co-organized a symposium between May 16 and 18, 2024, to launch a UNESCO Chair on Creativity and Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, the first in China. 

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Gu Tao, vice council chair of Peking University, speaks at the event

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Prof. Peng Feng speaks at the event

The event was co-hosted by Prof. Peng Feng, dean of the School of Arts, and Prof. Xiang Yong, attracting dozens of scholars and guests worldwide. The attendees, from diverse fields of expertise, engaged in the project and expressed their expectations to promote sustainable development in rural areas through strategic goals and innovative models.

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Qin Changwei, secretary-general of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, speaks at the symposium. 

Qin Changwei, secretary-general of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, said: "It is the country's first Chair dedicated to rural development. The establishment of the Chair will undoubtedly provide strong support for the dissemination of Chinese rural culture and creative development experiences and promote global rural cultural and creative development. The Chinese National Commission for UNESCO will continue to play a good coordinating and liaison role, providing full support for the Chair's activities."

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Duong Bich Hanh speaks at the event. 

Duong Bich Hanh, a program specialist at UNESCO's Multi-sectoral Regional Office for East Asia, shared her view of the effective role of culture and creativity in rural development. She emphasized the central role of culture in achieving sustainable development goals and advocated for the use of digital technology and data-driven approaches to enhance the management and utilization of cultural resources.

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Prof. Xiang Yong speaks at the event 

Prof. Xiang, who leads the Chair, introduced some projects the Chair will run, including organizing seminars on children's aesthetic education, rural women's entrepreneurship forums, book-reading clubs, summer school, and other student practice platforms. Xiang's team has long been committed to empowering sustainable rural development through the lens of cultural creativity.

Their effort has gradually formed the Peking University Rural Creativity Model, centered on the core principles of "cultural connection, creative empowerment, and value of co-creation," which provides valuable insights for the high-quality advancement of rural revitalization in the new era.

The Chair at Peking University will focus on rural development, aiming to develop and strengthen global networks and foster research that supports responsible and inclusive actions for equality and culture-based development towards sustainability. This initiative also aligns with and seeks to transcend the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the Chair team at Peking University. 

In particular, the team will use this platform to build a global network for rural creativity and sustainable development, forming an open and inclusive academic community. By collaborating with relevant parties, they aim to address challenges, continually promote human education and cultural undertakings, drive regional economic development, foster exchanges, and mutual learning among civilizations, and enhance the common welfare of humanity.

The UNESCO Chair program was established in 1992, with some 950 UNESCO Chairs and 45 UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking Program) Networks hosted in higher education institutions in 120 countries and regions. At present, 30 Chairs are in China and three at Peking University.

Written by: Wang Mengjiao; with input from
Edited by: Niki Qiu