China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (B&R), announced in 2013, has clearly become a major focus for the country’s efforts to sustain and further develop cooperative relationships with its neighbours near and far, and to work out mutually beneficial policies of economic development for Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Most of the public discussion so far has focused on infrastructure development, that is, construction projects particularly aimed at facilitating communications, travel, and international trade. Yet the “B&R” also intends to promote greater appreciation of China’s own cultural and religious diversity, respect for its neighbours’ cultural achievements, and a realization of cultural values that we share through our common humanity. The “B&R”, quite properly, appeals to the historic legacy of the Silk Road, which for millennia provided opportunities for the exchange, not only of goods and services, but also of ideas as well as spiritual and religious practices, and engagement with the peoples who cherished them. Indeed, save for Daoism, China’s indigenous wisdom tradition, all its other spiritual and religious communities—Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism—first found a home in China along the Silk Road.
Quite appropriately, the Macau Ricci Institute’s (MRI) hopes to make a significant contribution to the “B&R”. The work of Fr. Ricci and his companions itself is a significant part of the Silk Road legacy, and the friendship that Matteo Ricci enjoyed with China’s scholars and officials is extended even today through MRI’s mission. MRI therefore is dedicating its third annual November Conference, in 2018, to exploring the cultural aspects of the Silk Road legacy.
Each of the three dimensions of the MRI mission provides an opportunity for such exploration:
• The comparative appreciation of spirituality will enable Conference participants to present and analyse the history of the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities in China, and the way these have formed bridges of understanding internationally.
• An understanding of how social innovation occurred as a result of the Silk Road can shed a welcome light on the challenges and opportunities that today’s innovators may face, encouraged by the remembrance of China’s deep history of engagement with its neighbours.
• The exercise of moral leadership within the “B&R” offers many challenges both theoretical and practical. The development of effective teaching and learning programs in international business ethics, a special concern of the MRI and its partners, is indispensable if the goals of the “B&R”, even at the level of economic development, are to be realized.
We would encourage submissions for the Conference that promote further discussion and insight of topics related to each of these. For example:
• Studies interpreting the Silk Road’s great religious and cultural artefacts, such as, the Buddhist caves at Dunhuang, the history of Nestorian Christianity, as well as the 16th century Jesuit impact in Beijing, dramatized in the architecture of the Old Summer Palace, “Yuanmingyuan”, as well as the Great Mosque of Xi’an, and Chinese Judaism in Kaifeng. We hope to learn more about how the Silk Road contributed to the development of China’s indigenous spiritual and moral traditions, and vice-versa.
• Analyses of how social innovation occurs through commercial—and thus inevitably cultural—interactions. The history of the Silk Road’s traders and emissaries will help us to understand not only the spread of technological advances, from East to West and vice-versa, but also changes in diet, agricultural practices, finance and local governance, and related areas of interest. The study of social innovation, of course, must be forward looking as well as informed by a realistic understanding of past failures and successes. Therefore, the Conference might also feature discussions of contemporary challenges highlighted by the B&R, for example, the development of intellectual property rights and protocols, the expansion of digital technologies through the internet, the dissemination of promising strategies for mitigating climate change, as well as models of universal health care for rich and poor alike.
• With the prospects for increased economic integration advanced by the “B&R”, the Conference participants might explore the opportunities for mutual learning implicit in pursuing our aspirations for moral leadership. The question of universality or convergence in moral values and ethics, the recognition of a common commitment to the rule of law, the perennial challenge of learning and teaching moral virtues cross-culturally—each of these will surely help to support the exercise of moral leadership in a world transformed by the “B&R”.
This is a preliminary list of topics that might be explored in MRI’s 2018 annual November Conference. The list is by no means exclusive but is meant to suggest a range of concerns that participants might hope to share within the general theme of our Conference.
With this call for papers we invite submissions that broadly focus on the “B&R”, what it is, and how the opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and communication might be understood and responded to by scholars, entrepreneurs, business leaders, as well as students, faculty, netizens and others learning through social media. What can we learn from the historic experience of those who travelled the ancient Silk Roads that might help us to achieve spiritual wisdom as well as practical pathways of success? How might the “B&R” be used to advance the common good and enhance our capacities for moral leadership and social responsibility?
We encourage papers that reflect on the contributions made by the spiritual and wisdom traditions that flourished along the Silk Road—Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—and the ways in which these interacted with Chinese traditions of Confucianism and Daoism. What is the impact of these traditions on our understanding of the common good achievable through cultural exchange and communication, and the many paths open to those who pursue it? Are there practical proposals, informed by the “B&R”, that we should be promoting for the sake of building a harmonious society?
We are looking for papers that bring together theory and practice, research studies and case-based papers that address the opportunities opened by the “B&R”. We welcome both careful empirical studies and thoughtful and well-developed conceptual works that explore this topic. Empirical studies should be supported by rigorous qualitative or quantitative data analysis. Conceptual work should be clearly grounded in the existing literature. Practitioner papers are welcomed to contribute to our understanding of effective teaching and learning, through research, reports and case studies that address any of the questions suggested here, or others that they believe should be addressed.
Submitted papers should have the potential to make a significant contribution both to educational and academic literature and / or organizational development in order to qualify for inclusion in the Conference.
Accepted papers for the Conference will be considered for publication in the MRI Journal.
Please submit papers or an abstract of 500-700 words for consideration to Anna Cheang, email: email@example.com, by 30 July 2018. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by 30 September 2018, and at that time will be given a “Style Sheet” with instructions on the length of the paper, formatting, the use of APA guidelines, and other technical details. The deadline for final papers is 15 November 2018.