Endowment and Chinese culture celebrated in inaugural lecture
The endowment of a prestigious Professorship in the Department of East Asian Studies was marked by a landmark public lecture on 30 September.
Entitled 'In the fields of Shennong', the lecture was given by Professor Roel Sterckx, who becomes the University’s first Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science, and Civilization.
Joseph Needham was an outstanding Cambridge biochemist and sinologist of the 20th Century who is best known for his research on the science and civilization of ancient China.
The Professorship has been endowed in his memory with a gift of £1.25 million from the East Asian History of Science Foundation Hong Kong. This gift has been supplemented by £750,000 from an £8 milion Trinity College donation to the University's 800th Anniversary Campaign, which supports professorships in the Schools of Arts and Humanities and Humanities and Social Sciences.
These gifts provide for the retitling and funding in perpetuity of the University's Professorship of Chinese which was held by Professor Sterckx.
Professor Sterckx is a scholar of early Chinese culture, continuing a tradition that began in Cambridge 120 years ago when the first Chinese Professorship at the University – and in the nation – was founded. Professor Sterckx’ main areas of interest include early Chinese thought and religion, the cultural history from the Shang to the Han dynasties, classical Chinese philology and early Chinese literature.
His public lecture, held at the Law Faculty, explored how some deeply embedded assumptions about China have overshadowed our understanding of its complexities.
A video of the lecture will be available to view on the University website.
To further celebrate 120 years of partnership between Cambridge and China, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard, will be making a four-day official visit to Beijing in October.
She will be meeting senior Chinese Government figures and partner universities, signing historic agreements with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and appearing on China Central Television's premier interview programme, Top Talk.
Added: 1 October 2008