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German-Chinese Workshop: Knowledge transfer in the past and present

German-Chinese Workshop: Knowledge transfer in the past and present – to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Matteo Ricci S.J.’s death (1552 – 1610)

Date: Friday, 9th of July 2010, 09:00 – 17:30, Lecture Hall 5 in the Philosophy Building
Moderator: Lianming Wang


09:00 – 09:15         Welcome address
Dr. Helga Stahl
Prof. Dr. Dr. Eric Hilgendorf


1st Panel: Forms, Modality and the Impact of Knowledge Transfer in the Early Modern Period

Moderator: Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann
09:15 – 10:15 Lecture
Dr. Rita Haub: Ambassador of Europe and first citizen of the world in China: Matteo Ricci as a mediator of culture and knowledge exchange
10:15 – 11:15 Lecture
Prof. Dr. Gerlinde Gild: Conveyance and Acceptance of Western music in China since Matto Ricci
11:15 – 11:45 Coffee break
11:45 – 12:45 Lecture
Dr. Michael Leibold: Athanasius Krichers Chjina: Structural analysis of conceptual knowledge transfer


2nd Panel: Interaction, change and outlook

Moderator: Lin Hang
14:00 – 15:00 Lecture
Prof. Dr. Dieter Kuhn: Joseph Needham (1900 – 1994): The formative decades
15:00 – 15:30 Coffee break
15:30 – 16:30 Lecture
Tim Glaser: Protection of intellectual property in China
16:30 – 17:30
Podium discussion: Opportunities and Challenges of German-Chinese knowledge transfer in the age of globalization

The transfer of the German university system during the Republican era in China based on the example of Fu Sinian
Du Weihua

Dr. Jan-Christoph Marschelke
Wang Lianming
Ramona Hammer
Isabel Dettmer


The reciprocity of knowledge transfer between Europe and China – as a phenomenon and partial result of intercultural interaction – cannot only be observed in the age of globalization, but already provided examples during the early modern period, when Jesuits initiated the dawn of a brilliant era in the history of science. This can be seen both in the reception of Western sciences and techniques in China (which compared to South America and other evangelized areas was an advanced civilization) and in the intensive introduction of Chinese culture in the West.

How this transfer of knowledge functioned, when the carriage was the fastest means of transportation, is shown in the example of Andrea Pozzo’s work ‘Perspectiva pictorum et archictorum’, which was highly respected worldwide at the time and which was only translated into Chinese and transferred to China thirty years after its first edition was published in 1693. This delay is unthinkable in today’s information society. The workshop will discuss whether the Jesuits’ activities constitute a form of knowledge transfer, when in the modern sense we interpret knowledge transfer as a conscious, active and explicit process. As Jürgen Osterhammel (1995) astutely put it, the term ‘knowledge transfer’ means “the incorporation or application of knowledge”. Thus, the contribution of the Jesuits must be questioned, if, in transferring Western knowledge and techniques, they did not reveal the secret of critical technologies, such as watchmaking or cartography. In addition, the workshop will examine whether only Jesuit missionaries were direct carriers of exchange and to what extent the Chinese played an active role.

In a second section, it will be discussed how the transfer of knowledge and technology happens today and to what extent today’s methods differ from the Jesuit era. The aim of this workshop is to make visible the differences in the forms of knowledge, the modality of transfer, as well as the technical preconditions by comparing the past and present. On the other hand, current problems, such as the role of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the process of inter-state or inter-company high technology transfer, will be discussed with the participation of experts from a variety of disciplines. The aim is to finally give an outlook on future cooperation between Europe, Germany and China.

The workshop and seminar ‘Interactions in the process of culture and knowledge exchange between Europe and China’, held in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the great missionary to China Matteo Ricci (1552 – 1610), will take place within the framework of the Global Systems and Intercultural Competence project (GSiK) on the 09th of July 2010 in classroom 17 of the Philosophy Institute, Hubland campus. Students, young researchers and interested public are cordially invited to exchange opinions with experts from academia and business.

We look forward to welcoming you in Würzburg.

Download: Programme as a PDF file