Institute for Advanced Study in Asian Cultures and Theologies (IASACT)

Apply for IASACT 2023


Institute for Advanced Study in Asian Cultures and Theologies (IASACT) is a four-week residential program that provides space and time for scholars to deepen their understanding of theologies and traditions. Participants undertake research and writing in the broad area of Asian cultures and theologies and complete a working paper while in residence. Starting from 2015, IASACT is organized by the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and funded by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. Since 2004, 257 scholars from 121 institutions in 18 countries have benefited from the time IASACT affords for reflection, interaction and network-building.

More information about the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.


  • IASACT has been a forum for research, writing and exchange of ideas on cultures and religions in Asia. More than 250 scholars participated in the Institute for the past 16 years as individual researchers. IASACT has been conducted online via Zoom between 2020, 2021 and 2022 because of the pandemic.  IASACT 2023 will be resumed to a residential program.

  • This year’s theme acknowledges the importance of significant cultural and natural structures and markers that shape human civilizations in Asia. This acknowledgment emphasizes the interconnectedness of the past, present, and future through in-depth examination of the repositories of cultural memories. Unfortunately, these cultural repositories have become endangered, stagnant, or essentialized due to ecological crises, rapid social changes, and political and economic uncertainties. Revisiting the connections are crucial in that they lead to tangible and intangible structural changes. When the changes happen, they can transform into sites of cultivating personal and common identity, inclusion and diversity, interfaith dialogue, and a renewed cooperation among peoples arising from a deep understanding and appreciation of the complex cultural traditions of Asia. The choice of using the words ‘preserving’, ‘remembering’ and ‘re-imagining, rather than ‘preservation,’ ‘remembrance’ and ‘re-imagination’ is purposeful to demonstrate the organicity, fluidity, ambiguity, and interminability of the notion of ‘heritage.’


  • IASACT 2023 recognizes the value of interdisciplinary engagement as a basis for exploring the full range of questions about the theme. 

  • Accordingly, we invite anyone with a research, professional or practical interest in the theme to contribute to exploring the role of Asian cultures, religions, and spiritualities on critical issues around heritage in Asia. Research could offer empirical data (interviews, media analysis, contextual analysis, and creative approaches) or theoretical analysis. Possible subthemes, far from being exhaustive, are as follows:

  • •    Heritage and Religion
    Theology; ethics; performances of piety; diverse belief systems
    •    Heritage and Cultural/ Ethnic Memories
    Reclamation and reconstruction of what has been destroyed by colonial legacies; identification of vulnerable repositories of memory; violence and trauma associated with historical memories
    •    Heritage and Migration 
    Movements of people; shifting identities; invisibility
    •    Heritage and Built/Natural Environments 
    Conservation of natural areas in urban spaces; land use planning; natural landscapes
    •    Heritage and Digital Media
    Preservation of heritage through digitization
    •    Heritage, Genders, and Sexualities
    Intersectionality of gender, ethnicity, and class in heritage studies; gendered histories of heritage sites
    •    Heritage and Tourism
    Sustainable Tourism; Economic and political implications of heritage tourism

  • Click HERE for the pamphlet of IASACT 2023 for more information.


18 June - 15 July 2023


Selected scholars must be available for all activities taken taking place in Hong Kong:
•    Opening & Orientation
•    Brief Presentations of proposals
•    Full presentation of research
•    Regular individual meetings with the assigned mentor
•    Submission of a final paper before departure
•    Mini-conference or special lectures


  • A mid-term presentation on the research progress (framework, methodology, plans, difficulties, and findings or tentative conclusion);
  • Written commentaries to at least two other research projects upon their presentation.
  • A research paper offering empirical data (interviews, media analysis, contextual analysis) or theoretical analysis.


"Revisiting Heritage in Asia? Preserving, Active Remembering, and Re-imagining"


  • Sponsor airfare, while giving special consideration to those with financial difficulties or special needs. Participants are expected to shoulder his/her own airfares and related travel costs, including but not limited to insurance and local transportation. Travel subsidies might be provided to those with demonstrated financial needs.; 
  • Cover room and meal expenses of all scholars
  • Provide a stipend of US$1000 to cover basic costs related to research and writing  


  • A mentor will be assigned to provide ongoing academic advice for research and publishing throughout the program.
  • Additional advice by relevant resource persons may be arranged where available.
  • Online and physical access to the University Library System of the Chinese University of Hong Kong will be available.


Priority will be given to emerging scholars of Asian descent who:
•    are working in Asia; 
•    have a professional affiliation with an Asian higher education institution; 
•    are early to mid-career faculty or researchers; for example, early-career faculty or researchers are those currently involved in doctoral programs or have completed one within 5 years. 
•    have already started their research and are seeking advice and support to develop the research to an advanced stage.
•    possess spoken and written English proficiency.

**Participants will be responsible for their COVID-related arrangements and costs incurred during their travels. These include travel insurance, quarantine, vaccinations, related tests, and leave permission from the institutions. Details please refer to the IASACT 2023 Travel Guidelines.



Prof. Lap Yan KUNG

Associate Professor
Divinity School of Chung Chi College
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

IASACT Associate Dean

Dr. Wai Ching Angela WONG

Vice President for Programs
United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia

Advisory Committee

Dr. Wai Ching Angela WONG (Co-Chair)
Prof. Lap Yan KUNG (Co-Chair)
Dr. Joseph GOH, Malaysia
Dr. Pushpa JOSEPH, India
Mr. ZHANG Jun, P.R.China
Dr. Le Ngoc Dich LY, Thailand
Dr. Charles Jessie RANJITHA Jeba Selvi, India
Dr. Jeffrey KUAN, United Board of Trustees


Applications must be submitted online and should include the following attachments:

  • an updated CV (not exceeding two pages);
  • a project abstract with objectives and description of no more than 1,500 words, not including footnotes and bibliography;
  • a brief outline of the expected output (not exceeding two pages);
  • a recommendation letter from the affiliated institution.

Please register via HERE. Deadline of registration is 17 February, 2023 (Friday). 

Pamphlet of IASACT 2023 can be accessed via HERE.


QUEST: Studies on Religion & Culture in Asia is a publication from the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong for the IASACT program. Scholars of IASACT submit a paper to QUEST which is a peer-reviewed journal, and aims to be a “Gold” open access journal. It publishes research and book review articles that may span the full spectrum of religious studies, cultural studies, theological studies, and interdisciplinary studies on the cultures and religions in Asia.