Apply now to speak at the International Symposium: Confucianism and Modern Society

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Applications are still open for the 2015 International Symposium titled Confucianism and Modern Society.

When: Thursday, May 14 and Friday, May 15
Where: Bond University

How can I attend as a speaker or as a guest?
Simply contact Paulina via before April 7 to express your interest in becoming a speaker or  by May 8 if you would like to join us as an audience member!

Symposium Theme

A joint collaboration between the Bond University Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies and Beijing Foreign Studies University Center for East-West Relations, this inaugural symposium seeks to identify problems, opportunities and innovations that may benefit from the interaction of Confucian thought with contemporary life.

Proposal Submissions

The Organising Committee invites proposals for presentations that address the central symposium theme of “Will the vitality of the Confucian tradition serve and advance modern society”, along with expressions of interest for panel and round table participation.  Proposals should be brief (100-250 words) and include a working title and subject matter overview.

Confirmed Speakers

Keynote Address 1: Confucianism and Business
Dr Yang Xiaohua (San Francisco University) – What Confucius can teach us as China goes global?
Respondent: Dr Caitlin Byrne (Bond University)

Panel 1: Confucianism – Business Ethics and Governance
Speaker 1:
Mr Alan Chan (Singapore) – Confucian Entrepreneurship
Commentary: Professor Raoul Mortley (Bond University)
Speaker 2: Mr Reg Little (retired Australian diplomat and author) – Confucian ethics and the 21st Century Global Business
Speaker 3: Miss Luan Yilan (Beijing Foreign Studies University) – The Chinese Interpretive Context of “Democracy”
Panel Chair: Rosita Dellios

Keynote Address 2:  Harmony, reciprocity and engagement: Confucian approaches to modern life
Professor Shan Chun (China University of Political Science and Law) – Confucian Humaneness in Modern Human Rights Politics?
Respondent:  Professor Bee Chen Goh (Southern Cross University)

Panel 2: Confucianism in Modern Society
Speaker 1:
Dr Tian Chenshan (Beijing Foreign Studies University) – Confucian Values in a Changing World Cultural Order – The Predicament
Speaker 2: Dr Rosita Dellios (Bond University) – Confucius and Women
Speaker 3: Professor Wen Haiming  (Renmin University of China) – Significance of Confucianism: Cultivating oneself as Concretizing one’s Intentions
Speaker 4: Dr Yu Lei (Renmin University of China) – Confucius’s Thoughts of “He” (和) and Its Influence on China’s Foreign Strategy: China’s Path to its “Peaceful” Rise at Systemic and Sub-systemic levels
Panel Chair:  Samad Aftab

Round Table Discussion with Audience:
Confucianism for the 21st Century
Speaker 1:
Dr James Ferguson (Bond University) – Title TBC
Speaker 2: Dr Nguyen Ngoc Tho (Vietnam National University) – Confucianism and humane education in contemporary world
Speaker 3: Ms Vivian Man Wai Fung (Sino-Aust Culture Association Inc) – Good ethics, good business
Moderator:  Dr Jonathan Ping (Bond University)

Applying Confucian Values for Entrepreneurial Development and Improved Business Ethics

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To Confucius, the ideal person is a scholar bureaucrat, not a successful entrepreneur. His (or her) priority should be on serving society at large, not on making personal gains and profit. Does this suggest that Confucian values are completely irrelevant to modern entrepreneurial development?

It has been argued that Confucian values such as obedience, respect for authority and emotional control are not naturally compatible components of a common entrepreneurial standard, (1) however these and other Confucian values can play a positive role in entrepreneurial prosperity for China and the rest of the world if applied correctly.

Confucian entrepreneurs can be defined as those who apply traditional Chinese cultural values in respect to maintaining the moral beliefs of Confucianism in all aspects of business practice. Though sometimes Confucianism is viewed as hostile to entrepreneurship, it has played a vital role in the study of Confucian entrepreneurs “as it initially meant intellectuals and has served as a set of political ideas practiced within a hierarchy of ethical obligations to family and community.” (2)

In a research study conducted by Ying Fan of Durham University Business School, titled, “Chinese Cultural Values and Entrepreneurship: A Preliminary Consideration,” a link was established between Confucian values and entrepreneurial attributes. Confucian values were applicable to positive interpersonal relations in business practice and in the workplace, in regards to successful human resource management in particular. These values included: trustworthiness, Ren (compassion, humanness), Li (ritual, etiquette), harmony and tolerance of others. These values of interpersonal relations can generate a more successful human resource management. Business philosophy can be guided by Confucian values of long term orientation, resistance to corruption, and nurturing of guanxi (relationships), which can be utilised for improvement of networking and developing positive business connections.

Confucian values can aid in the creation of entrepreneurs who are true leaders of society, and who hold a sense of righteousness and de (moral power). Confucius believed that leaders were expected to rule in a way that is just and moral. This view of practice could have the potential to create entrepreneurs who perform ethical business practice. Under Confucian values, if businesses are governed righteously, they will succeed.

Although it can be maintained that there are a number of Confucian values that may not necessarily impact positively on entrepreneurship development – for example, lack of initiative and innovation (due to the possible disruption of the existing order and threat to social harmony), if righteousness and profitableness are balanced equally, moral values can be reached and play a positive role in shaping and maintaining ethical business practice. This, in turn, will create profitable business and most importantly, ethical obligations to family and society can also be achieved.


Leading scholar provides insight into Confucian Entrepreneurship

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Internationally recognised and leading Confucian scholar, CKGSB Honorary Professor of Humanities Tu Weiming discusses how the virtues of a Confucian entrepreneur can benefit not only shareholders, but serve and influence society at large. (Click on image above to view article and watch video)


Confucius said of the ruler:
The junzi (morally noble person or persons) do not mind being in office; all they mind is whether they have qualities that entitle them to office. They do not mind failing to acquire recognition; they are too busy doing the things that entitle them to recognition.

(The Analects 1.16 and 13.13, adapted from Forbes  and Chicago Now)


You may also be interested in reading: “Why China Doesn’t Have It’s Own Steve Jobs.” Panos Mourdoukoutas discusses Schumpeterian entrepreneurship and what China can do to create its own celebrated entrepreneurs.


Chinese businesses should rely on Confucius, not Steve Jobs, for management tips by Lily Kuo.

We would love to hear your opinion on this topic!
Please leave us a comment 🙂 

Can Confucian thought help us rise above the dome?

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blue skysThe state of China’s environmental health, specifically air quality, continues to be a hot topic throughout China and the world. Public concern has sparked huge debate, particularly with the release of the documentary Under the Dome.  Additionally, the National People’s Congress (NPC) has put pollution at the very forefront of its agenda. As environmental concerns grow worldwide, revisiting Confucian texts and commentaries from an environmental perspective could help enlighten modern society in facing this challenging issue.

Confucian philosophy holds that there is basic order in the universe and a natural harmony linking human kind and the moral universe known as tian or Heaven. This moral universe includes humankind’s relationship with Earth. Earth can be understood as the source of economy and nourishment, as well as our environmental heritage. Scholars of Confucius may pinpoint the environmental problem to a lack of balance between Earth’s sustainable development and the quest for profit at all costs.

Sam Crane, a professor of Chinese Politics and ancient Chinese philosophy at Williams College, points out in his article titled “Green Confucius” that, “Profit has infected the relationship of man and environment and, ultimately, has undermined the ability of many Chinese people to protect their social relationships (think of all of the health problems that have harmed families as a result of pollution).”

Self-awareness with regard to the balance of relationships must be created across a wide spectrum in 21st century life, this includes not only with people and societies, but relationships with the environmental resource base as well.

In an article titled Confucian Ethics and the Environment, scholar Li Tianchen uses ancient Chinese sources to attribute “ecological and environmental protection as a matter of concern to the national economy and people’s livelihood.” He draws attention to the following quote by Xunzi, an ancient Confucian philosopher who emphasises human responsibility towards nature:

“Respond to it with peace and order, and good fortune will result. Respond to it with disorder, and disaster will follow. If the foundations of living (i.e., agriculture and sericulture) are strengthened and are economically used, then Nature cannot bring impoverishment…But if the foundations of living are neglected and used extravagantly, then Nature cannot make the country rich.”

confucius quote

The loss of Confucian wisdom has led to an environmentally regressive trend in which the xiaoren – the Confucian term for a petty-minded self-seeking individual – reigns supreme. The people, corporations and systems that put profits ahead of other considerations may be contrasted to the junzi, the morally noble person. The junzi is viewed by Confucius as the role model who upholds a nurturing relationship between nature and humanity.

Deputy Minister of the Environmental Protection Ministry Pan Yue once said that “the core of traditional Chinese culture, both Confucianism and Taoism, is harmony between Man and nature and it should be revived as a way to tackle today’s environmental problems.”

Could going back to Confucian insights help ignite a new sense of environmental awareness and ultimately lead to a rise above the dome?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

The Yin-Yang Embrace

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The Ying-Yang doctrine is a fundamental concept in Chinese Philosophy to this day. Yin-Yang refers to the balance between seemingly opposing forces so that they are unified, in order to be productive holistically. All things and events are products of the two elements: yin, which is negative, passive, weak, and destructive, and yang, which is positive, active, strong, and constructive1.

The first conception of yin and yang came from observing nature and the environment. Ancient Chinese noticed the relationships and patterns that occurred in nature and they believed that the world environment to be a harmonious and holistic entity2.  A yin environment originally referred to the cool, restful shady side of a slope; while the yang was viewed as the warm, sunny side with stimulating, active colours.  This philosophy was extended to other pairs that had complementary and opposing natural characteristics3.  Examples could include female (yin) and male (yang), night (yin) and day (yang) and cold (yin) and warm (yang).

In his book Philosphy Revamed by Alan Chan, Mr Chan noted that, “Newton once observed that there are objects out there knocking at one another. That simple remark inadvertently came close to the essence of yin-yang.” The main difference is that objects that collide represent a clash; however yin and yang embrace one another.


Asia Defined through Confucian Sensibility

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Noted geopolitics expert Robert D Kaplan reflects on the role of Confucian values in his essay titled, “Asia’s Rise Is Rooted in Confucian Values.”

The essay, which featured  in The Wall Street Journal, has attracted considerable online attention. Take a read and let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

WSJ photo“To say that Asia is Confucian is an oversimplification, but to say that a Confucian sensibility helps to define East Asia is not.”

– Robert D Kaplan

Confucian Virtues in Modern Politics and Society

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hong kong academic video

Chinese scholar and Professor Joseph Chan from the University of Hong Kong explores the philosophical insights of Confucius – including harmony, civility and respect – and discusses how they can still be relevant for modern politics and society. His research explains why Confucian virtues are not irrelevant, but instead useful, because they can assist in making modern liberal democratic institutions function better.

Useful Links

  • Joseph Chan further explains his interpretation of Confucianism in his book, Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times.
  • To view a public lecture titled, “Can Confucianism Save the World? Reflections by Three Contemporary Political Thinkers,” click here. The three political philosophers on this panel are Joseph Chan, Tongdong Ba and Daniel Bell.