NEH Bridging Cultures Project


Thinking through Cultural Diversity: Bridging Cultural Differences in Asian Traditions (click to go to the project website) is a three-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges initiative. This project will involve fifteen community colleges organized in five geographic clusters, and will place different understandings of culture and plurality in dialogue with the aim of deepening engagement with issues of cultural interaction, civility, and diversity in a global context. With a focus on China and Southeast Asia, the project will explore how the arts, literature, knowledge systems, religious traditions and trade serve as cultural bridges; how different conceptions of personhood and community afford distinctive resources for engaging issues of cultural plurality; and how Asian perspectives on cultural difference might complement those that are prevalent in American undergraduate classrooms. Participants in the project will work collaboratively to develop curricula and research related to Asian cultures and societies and the project theme of cultural diversity.


Project Activities. The project is organized around a progressive series of activities that integrates faculty, curriculum and institutional development; that stimulates and supports relevant research; and that encourages increased public outreach on project themes. These activities will include:

  • an 8-day summer symposium hosted at the East-West Center, Honolulu from July 13-20, 2012 that will introduce intellectual resources for engaging project themes and introduce relevant Asian cultural traditions;
  • a set of 2-day distinguished lecturer visits at each community college cluster in Fall 2012;
  • two mentoring visits to each cluster (1 day each) by Asian studies scholars in Spring or Fall 2013;
  • a series of 3-day faculty and curriculum development workshops at each cluster to be hosted in 2013;
  • an online conference hosted in the first half of 2014 that will feature project-related research and result in a peer-reviewed book publication;
  • and, a final, lessons-learned conference hosted on the US mainland in late summer or fall 2014 for one representative from each of the 15 participating schools.


Project Outcomes. All participating faculty will write courses modules or full course syllabi that incorporate project themes. Faculty may also write articles on project themes. It is hoped that the workshops, mentoring visits and distinguished lecture series will bring other faculty, students and the community into the project. The on-line conference will be open to all interested faculty at the 15 participating colleges. 


 Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


 Photo taken by Dr. Albert Wong of the Universdity of Texas at El Paso