Asian Studies Program Receives Federal Grant to Enhance Curriculum

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The Asian Studies Program in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is expanding its curriculum, thanks to an Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The $52,608 grant, awarded in the fall, has three major objectives - to strengthen Chinese and Asian language classes, to create a new minor in Chinese studies and to develop an Asian business concentration for non-business students.

"The intent is to broaden the courses we are able to offer, encourage enrollment and enhance our curriculum, so as to be able to offer students a richer learning experience," said Ka Zeng, director of the Asian Studies Program and professor in the Department of Political Science.

The Asian Studies Program received the same grant in 2008-09, when a major in Asian Studies was created at the U of A and a tenure-track faculty member was hired to teach Chinese language courses. The current grant will build on that foundation and expand the program in a variety of ways.

For example, the U of A will continue its partnership with Southwest Jiaotong University in China by bringing a faculty member to campus for the 2017-2018 academic year and developing a "two-plus-two" degree exchange program for Chinese students.

The grant will also support scholarships for U of A students to study abroad, increase professional development for faculty and allow Mullins Library to expand its collection of Asia-related materials.

The new Chinese Studies minor will emphasize not only language acquisition but content courses in a range of topics, including economics, history, political science, music, sociology and anthropology.

Those courses also will appeal to students in the Asian business minor for non-business students, Zeng said.

"We're hoping to emphasize the area studies aspect of that minor, and make sure that students have some training and some background in Asian Studies, so that they'll be able to more successfully maneuver the complex business environment in the region after they graduate," she said.

The grant may be renewed for a similar amount for a second year, Zeng said. If so, the Asian Studies Program will host a symposium on some aspect of U.S.-China relations.


Ka Zeng, director, Asian studies program
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences

Bettina Lehovec, staff writer
University Relations

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