July 10, 2018
One of the world’s most popular games has made its way into a TCU Honors course. This past spring, Dr. Ze-Li Dou incorporated Go, a strategy game that originated in ancient China, into his Honors Colloquium, “Asian Cultures on the Go.” Go has remained popular in East Asia over the past 2500 years and is considered a prized fine art. While Go is the subject of a great deal of academic literature and has been studied in-depth by scholars for centuries, this marked only the second time Go has ever been used in an undergraduate liberal arts course in the United States.
Dr. Dou’s course was about more than just a game—students gained perspective on cultural experience and growth. In class, students discussed literature on Go, including the novel Master of Go by Nobel Prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata. They also watched a documentary on a Go match between AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence program, and the human world champion. Along with this, students learned Go strategies and played games in a truly interactive form of cultural learning. One of the students, Emily Fletcher, wrote about the impact of the course: “I not only got to learn about Asian culture and history, subjects I have had little exclusive contact with in my schooling, but I got to do so from a vantage point that creatively and engagingly guided me through the Chinese, Japanese, and human experience.”
Learning went both ways for Dr. Dou, who told his students at the beginning of the course that they were “creating the course together.” He has been invited to present his findings on incorporating Go into an Honors course at the 34th Annual US Go Congress from July 21st through 29th. The TCU Honors College is co-sponsoring Dr. Dou’s trip to the College of William and Mary to present his lecture: “Go and Higher Education: Introducing Go in the Honors Program of a Liberal Arts College.” Dr. Dou plans to emphasize the collaborative aspect of his course. Aside from the academic portion of the convention, the American Go Association will grant professional ranks to players, the best of which will represent the United States in international competition. And now, there is a group of TCU Honors students who can fully appreciate this globally prominent tradition.