Kansas Community Colleges Join Initiative on Asian Studies


NEH-funded project is being coordinated by the Honolulu-based East-West Center

HONOLULU (March 1, 2012) – Johnson County Community College and two other Kansas schools are among 15 community colleges in five states that will participate in a collaborative project on developing Asian studies curricula. Johnson County CC will serve as the project’s Kansas coordinator, with Dodge City Community College and Butler Community College also participating.

The three-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its “Bridging Cultures” initiative for community colleges, is being coordinated by the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

A core group of 45 faculty members and administrators from the 15 schools will work with EWC’s Asian Studies Development Program to develop new course syllabi, web resources, and public outreach activities exploring how different Asian societies approach issues of cultural difference. The project, which will focus on China and Southeast Asia, will explore how the arts, literature, knowledge systems, religious traditions and trade serve as cultural bridges; how different conceptions of personhood and community affect issues of cultural plurality; and how Asian perspectives on cultural difference might complement those that are prevalent in American undergraduate classrooms.

“This Bridging Cultures project is part of our overall effort to insure that every American college and university graduate has a working knowledge of Asian cultures and peoples, and their remarkable diversity,” said Asian Studies Development Program Coordinator Peter Hershock. “This is not just knowledge for knowledge’s sake. An understanding of Asian societies can pay immense dividends in a future in whichAsiais set to become progressively more influential on the global economic and political stage.”

The NEH places considerable emphasis on the fact that the program is for community colleges, highlighting the fact that such institutions serve the broadest spectrum of Americans, including both college-age students and those returning to school later in life, often with an interest in developing new employment skills and knowledge.

In all, the institutions participating in the project are: Alameda Community College (CA), Baltimore County Community College (MD), Bristol Community College (New Bedford, MA), Butler Community College (Eldorado, KS), Camden County College (NJ), City College of San Francisco (CA), Community College of Philadelphia (PA), Dodge City Community College (KS), Frederick Community College (MD), Harrisburg Area Community College (PA), Howard Community College (Columbia, MD), Johnson County Community College (KS), Middlesex Community College (Lowell, MA), Mission College (Santa Clara, CA) and Quinsigamond Community College (Worcester, MA).