Para Limes

Conference: East of West, West of East

Conference: East of West, West of East

Date: 17 – 19 October 2016

Venue: Mandarin Ballroom 1, Level 6, Mandarin Orchard Hotel

Address: 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867


There are barriers between East and West that prevent both sides from understanding each other and developing a constructive dialogue. These barriers do not merely reflect cultural differences. They also express the limits of Eastern and Western ways of thinking and different concepts of change. The Western scientific way of thinking, which is expressed and conceptualized in high precision words often ignores the context in which it is framed and has hit a wall in explaining the real world. So does the Eastern way of thinking that is expressed in words that carry ambiguity and have meaning only within a context, carrying richness in interpretation but being subject to lack of precision.

Both ways of thinking can co-exist in a world with a low population and large resources. But in a crowded and interconnected world, where east and west increasingly move into each other’s resource spaces, a synthesis must be found between both modes of thinking, to make sure that problems facing the whole of humanity can be effectively addressed, and that misunderstandings will not escalate into major conflicts.

Instead of framing interactions into geo-political or military differences between two protagonists, a better dialogue must be shaped! This conference intends to contribute to a basis for such a dialogue by delving into the deeper barriers to communication at the intellectual and cultural levels. In doing so it will focus on the way the dialogue has been and is being shaped by our history, our philosophies, our languages, our food, our religions, our medicine and our technologies. We will revisit our history and our different world views to try to understand our current times, and look into the future, and we intend to deal with hidden connections and silent transformations that today’s geopolitical thinking has ignored or underemphasized.

We have chosen East of West, West of East as the theme for the conference, because in between is where we have to find our way. But we will start by finding our way between China and the US, as the combination of their power and cultural differences poses the biggest threat and opportunity for the world.

Sydney Brenner once remarked: “We cannot change the present, but we can change the future, through the young people”. With that in mind our target audience consists of:
  • Talented young leaders from government, industry and academia who may become influential in policy and decision making
  • Thought leaders in the world, i.e. people that are regularly consulted by policy makers and decision makers in government, business and academia
The setting of the conference is informal. There will be ample time for the audience and the speakers to discuss and meet.

We warmly invite you to actively take part in it.

Videos & Presentation Slides

Day 1 – Rediscovering the Past

Jan Wouter Vasbinder – Welcome and Introduction

Member of Governing Board, Para Limes

Session 1A

Andrew Sheng – Divergence and convergence between Chinese and Western approach to change

Distinguished Fellow, Fung Global Institute

Session 1B

Tonio Andrade – Divergences and convergences in East and West: A global historical perspective

Professor of History, Director of East Asian Studies, Emory University

Session 1C

Alan Chan – Eastern and Western conceptions of religion

Dean, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University

Session 1D

Helena Hong Gao – Constraints of language on thinking and behaviour

Director of Bilingual Development Lab, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University

Panel Discussion

Moderator – Aaron Maniam

Director (Industry), Ministry of Trade and Industry

Panelists: Andrew Sheng, Tonio Andrade, Alan Chan & Helena Hong Gao

Day 2 – Understanding the Present

Session 1

Atsushi Iriki – Cultural differences as opportunities for collaboration in healthcare and medicine

Head of Laboratory for Symbolic Cognitive Development, RIKEN Brain Science Institute and Visiting Professor, Nanyang Technological University

Biography & Abstract │Presentation 1 & 2

Session 2

Georges Halpern – Fusion Cuisine

Honorary Professor, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Session 3

Bilahari Kausikan – The individual and the community: Managing multiculturalism in Eastern and Western political systems

Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Session 4

Lisa Raphals – Perspectives on Ambiguity

Professor, Department of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages, University of California, Riverside

Panel Discussion

Moderator – Andrew Sheng

Panelists: Lisa Raphals, Georges Halpern, Atsushi Iriki, W. Brian Arthur & Teoh Xuan Min

Day 3 – Securing the Future

Session 3

Vernie Oliveiro – The role of Singapore in bridging East and West

Senior Assistant Director (Policy Strategy), Ministry of National Development

Session 3

Adrian Kuah – The role of Singapore in bridging East and West

Senior Research Fellow & Head, Case Studies Unit, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Panel Discussion

Moderator – Aaron Maniam

Panelists: Vernie Oliveiro & Adrian Kuah

Session 4 – A museum of the future?

Honor Harger

Executive Director, ArtScience Museum

Session 4 – A museum of the future?

Stuart Candy

Visiting Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Director, Situation Lab
Fellow, Museum of Tomorrow

Session 4 – A museum of the future?

John Sweeney

Deputy Director, Center for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies, East-West University in Chicago

Session 4 – A museum of the future?

Sheila Ronis

Chair and Professor, Department of Management
Director, Center for Complex and Strategic Decisions, Walsh College

Session 4 – A museum of the future?

Cheryl Chung

Deputy Director, Strategic Planning, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Panel Discussion

Moderator – Aaron Maniam

Panelists: Honor Harger, Stuart Candy, John Sweeney, Sheila Ronis & Cheryl Chung

Jan Wouter Vasbinder & Andrew Sheng – Closing Remarks