UISFL 2016-2019 Enhancing Undergraduate Chinese Language and Culture Studies:  Integrating Faculty and Curriculum Development
Hosted by Asian Studies Development Program
The China Project

Enhancing Undergraduate Chinese Language and Culture Studies:
Integrating Faculty and Curriculum Development

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About the Project

In the context of expanding and deepening global interdependencies, international studies and foreign language learning have assumed an increasingly critical place in American undergraduate education. Yet, in spite of the rapidly increasing economic and political importance of China-U.S. relations, American higher education to date has not risen to the challenge of effectively mainstreaming Chinese language and cultural studies. Of the nearly 6,000 institutions of higher education in the US, only 661 offer some degree of Chinese language instruction and the number of schools offering certificate, minor or major programs in Chinese studies are much fewer still.

There are many reasons for the relative paucity of Chinese language and culture programs in the US. One factor is that budget constraints make hiring China specialists a slow and often piecemeal endeavor. A related factor is the trend toward replacing tenured faculty with contract or adjunct professors—a population of educators whose mobility and irregularity works against sustained and progressive capacity building. A third factor is the “catch-22” of needing to simultaneously build faculty expertise and student interest related to China in order to justify committing substantial institutional resources to developing new area studies and language courses. On a majority of American college and university campuses, commitments to hiring appropriate faculty members to teach courses on Chinese language and culture are dependent on clearly demonstrated student interest in the form of course enrollments, which are dependent in turn on competently and enthusiastically taught area studies and language courses.

The Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP), seeks to address this “catch-22” through a nationally-applicable “curriculum development through existing faculty development” model for fast-tracking the
Bodhisattva Manjushri as Tikshna-Manjushri          development of undergraduate Chinese area and language studies in a consortium of four schools that
Ming dynasty, China; Gilt brass sculpture;              currently have minimal course offerings in Chinese language and culture, and that are representative of
Photo credit:  www.metmuseum.org                       the institutional types and demographics in American higher education. The consortium includes a small
                                                                              liberal arts college, two community colleges, and a state university, two of which are Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs): Berea College (Berea, KY), Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids, IA), Mt. San Antonio College (Walnut, CA) and the University of Central Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK).1 Each institution will select a team of six faculty members as key participants in the project, for a total of twenty-four faculty members. These team members will work together to advance Chinese studies on their own campuses, developing two core courses in Chinese studies and infusing significant Chinese content into at least ten existing courses in the humanities and social sciences.

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