“Heavenly Learning”: Jesuit Science in Imperial China
Unfortunately, our speaker, Professor Florence Hsia, has tested positive for COVID-19. We hope to reschedule in the future.
Presented by Seattle University College of Arts and Sciences and Asian Studies.
Florence Hsia earned a B.A. in East Asian Studies at Princeton University and a PhD in History at the University of Chicago. She is now Professor of History of Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is also currently serving as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in Arts & Humanities and as Associate Dean in the Graduate School. She is the author of Sojourners in a strange land: Jesuits and their scientific missions in late imperial China (Chicago, 2009), and has focused on the history of Jesuit science in the context of the Society of Jesus’ global missions in the early modern period. Current areas of interest include data practices in astronomy and indexing methods for Chinese characters.
From its beginnings in the late sixteenth century, the Jesuit episode in late imperial China framed a meeting of distinct scientific traditions, from concepts of earth and sky to modes of reckoning time and space. The encounter challenged members of the Society of Jesus to rethink how to best advance missions both religious and scientific, and to address how pursuing these intertwined goals might shape their own identities. This talk explores the long history of Jesuit scientific work in the Celestial Empire in order to better understand what such efforts meant for the Jesuits’ various audiences, as well as for themselves.
Thanks to a generous contribution by Dr. Peter Lai Sun Lee ’64, Seattle University established the Peter L. Lee Endowed Lectureship in East Asian Culture and Civilization in April 2015. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences and managed by the director of Asian Studies, the lectureship brings to campus prominent experts to explore the impact of East Asian thought and tradition on contemporary global issues.
“The Peter L. Lee Endowed Lectureship is designed to be interdisciplinary,” said Arts and Sciences Dean David Powers. “It will allow us to engage our students with sociohistorical context and pressing issues related to East Asian studies, modern languages, international business, comparative religion, and many other areas.”
Dr. Lee, who majored in chemistry, was one of the earliest international students to come to Seattle University from Hong Kong. Early in his career, he served as the first President of Coca Cola China. Subsequently, he led the Asian operations for several multinational companies including Mead Coated Board (then part of Mead Corporation) and Chesapeake Corporation. His most recent venture is Rondabosh International Ltd., a company he founded upon retiring from Chesapeake in 2008.
Dr. Lee received his PhD in chemistry from Michigan State University, did postdoctoral research at New York University, and studied with the great China scholar Joseph Needham at Cambridge University. He has had a longstanding association with the East Asian History of Science Foundation in Hong Kong and currently serves as its chairman. Throughout his academic, corporate, and nonprofit leadership involvement, Dr. Lee has worked tirelessly to build bridges of understanding between China and the West.
The inaugural Peter L. Lee Endowed Lecture in East Asian Culture and Civilization, featuring Professor Tobie Meyer-Fong, of Johns Hopkins University, with her talk entitled: “World of Pain and Wonder: Horizons of a 19th Century Chinese Traveler.”
The 2nd annual Peter L. Lee Endowed Lecture in East Asian Culture and Civilization, featuring Professor Robin Yates, of McGill University, with his talk entitled: “Chinese Science, Medicine, and Technology: Some recent discoveries and new trends in the field.”