EWC to Coordinate 5-State Community College Initiative on Asian Studies


HONOLULU (March 1, 2012) -- The East-West Center has received a $360,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a collaborative project to work with 15 community colleges in five states on developing Asian studies curricula.

Over the three-year project, which is part of the NEH’s “Bridging Cultures” initiative for community colleges, 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 which Asia is 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.

Five schools will serve as coordinating institutions for the project: Baltimore County Community College, the Community College of Philadelphia, Johnson County Community College near Kansas City, Middlesex Community College in Lowell, MA, and the City College of San Francisco.

Additional participating institutions include Alameda Community College (CA), Bristol Community College (New Bedford, MA), Butler Community College (Eldorado, KS), Camden County College (NJ), Dodge City Community College (KS), Frederick Community College (MD), Harrisburg Area Community College (PA), Howard Community College (Columbia, MD), Mission College (Santa Clara, CA) and Quinsigamond Community College (Worcester, MA).

This project is one of five awards NEH has made for the Bridging Cultures initiative. The other awardees are: the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Historical Association, the Newberry Library, and the Community College Humanities Association.