2003 Student-Faculty Fellows: Daemen College

Taiwan’s Democratization and Its Implications

Mentor: Baohui Zhang, Department of History and Government
Students: Laurence Beahan III ’04; Nicole Grabski ’04

Research trip to Taiwan postponed to Dec. 2003-Feb. 2004 period because of 2003 SARS Crisis

Abstracts of Reflections and/or Research

Baohui Zhang

As the faculty member of this research team, I found that this project was an extremely rewarding experience. It allowed me to achieve an important goal that I set for myself when I first came to teach at Daemen College: to open up the minds of the students to the outside world. The college used to have a very weak curriculum in international education. This was reflected in the very limited opportunities for students to travel to and study in a foreign country. This fellowship allowed to realize an important goal of exposing my students to the people and culture of East Asia.

Research abstract: The Freeman Student-Faculty research team from Daemen College conducted research in Taiwan about its political transition from authoritarian rule. The team interviewed various Taiwanese experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including director of research institute, president of think tanks, and editors of political studies magazines. Both students and the faculty member gained valuable insight into the dynamics of political change in Taiwan.

Laurence Beahan, III

Allowing one’s self to be completely immersed in a culture other than one’s own is the single best way to learn and experience the world. In having the opportunity to travel to the Republic of China I was able to observe and experience a multitude of different facets of life in the Asian culture. Walking the streets of Taipei, sampling the tremendous variety of foods, observing Taiwan’s young democracy in action, and having the distinct honor of sitting down and conversing with numerous political scientists about the state of Taiwan today, all created an experience that will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life. Between the mountains and the sea lies a bustling center of activity that is home to just over four million people. Taipei, the capital city of the ROC, as well as the largest city in Taiwan, is a cosmopolitan metropolis that has a nearly endless amount to offer both citizen and visitor alike. We were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to explore many of the fascinating and unique sectors of this wonderful city when our work for the day had been completed. The experience of visiting Taiwan was illuminating in many different ways.

Research abstract: Rare is the opportunity while pursuing one’s undergraduate studies to receive the chance to conduct on-site research for a project. My research is focused on the transition of the ROC from an authoritarian regime ruled with martial law, as was seen from 1949 until 1987, to the democratic form of government that now exists on the island. While in Taiwan I had the distinct privilege to interview many prominent political scientists and discuss with them the current situation regarding democratic consolidation of the ROC. By combining the knowledge that I have acquired through my extensive reading on the subject, and my first-hand experiences on the island I have been able to draw a variety of conclusion regarding the success of the transition process as well as the current level of democratic consolidation. Through observation and analysis of the forth-coming presidential election I hope to further evaluate the success of the transition process, and based on my findings project what may be obstacles which still remain for Taiwanese democracy in the further.

Nicole Grabski

Being able to travel to a place like Taiwan was an immensely valuable experience for me. For three weeks I was immersed in a culture that is extraordinarily different from my own. From visiting beautiful locations such as Sun Moon Lake, to exploring the busy streets of Taipei, Taiwan is a beautiful dichotomy of picturesque scenery and exciting city life. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with numerous political scientists and discuss Taiwanese politics. In addition, we had the opportunity to go to the KMT Party headquarters in Taichung and receive information about the candidates and their platforms. Having been fortunate enough to be in Taiwan before the presidential election allowed us to obtain a greater understanding of current Taiwanese politics. My time spent in Taiwan was filled with great experiences. I left the island with nothing but fond memories and important knowledge about Taiwan and how I view the world.

Research Abstract: While in Taiwan we discussed numerous issues that were beneficial to my ongoing research on Taiwan. My final paper will cover the early history of Taiwan, up to and including the colonial rule of the Japanese. Then I am focusing on the post World War II era when the island returned to Chinese rule. I will then continue with an examination of the years of Martial law on the island. The main focus of my paper however, is the gradual process of democratization. I will use the knowledge gained in Taiwan to discuss current Taiwan, the upcoming election, and the problems Taiwan faces in the future.

Venues for Sharing

  • Paper for submission to an academic journal, Asian Profile.
  • Presentation at Daemen College Academic Festival in April.
  • Share pictures and stories about the trip to the class I (Nicole Grabski) am student teaching.