Title VI Grant

For the academic years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, Roger Williams University was awarded a two-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL), to develop East Asian Studies at the university.   The allocated federal grant was in the amount of $102,825, with partial matching funds to be supplied by Roger Williams University.  Major components of the support included professional development over the two-year period for selected RWU faculty and area high school teachers to expand their knowledge about East Asia, to build curriculum and international exchanges, to develop resources, and to share acquired expertise with colleagues and the general public.  Dr. Debra Mulligan (History) and Dr. Min Zhou (Foreign Languages) served as the grant Co-Directors. The grant was later extended for an additional year, which allowed a small group of faculty to travel to Japan for a cultural immersion study trip in the summer of 2012 (delayed from 2011 because of the tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crisis). 

Among other initiatives, the grant allowed us to bring experts to campus to conduct seminars and workshops for faculty.  During Spring/Summer 2010, the topic of “China: Change and Continuity” focused on the importance of Confucianism in East Asian cultures. 

The internationally renowned scholar Henry Rosemont, Jr., Visiting Scholar, Department of Religious Studies, Brown University / Professor Emeritus, St. Mary’s University of Maryland, conducted a series of seminars on how to interpret and teach Confucius, providing a historical and current context.  Additional invited workshop leaders included:

Dr. Deborah Sommer, Department of Religion, Gettysburg College, speaking on “The Afterlife of Confucius: Images of the Master, Past and Present”

Dr. Michael Nylan, Department of History, University of California Berkeley, on “Lives of Confucius.” 

Faculty also visited Asian collections at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Stipends were provided for eight faculty members in each year of the grant to create new courses or revise current courses to focus on East Asia, or to include significant segments on East Asia. A committee composed of these faculty, the co-directors, and two administrators, worked to create the new minor in East Asian Studies, which was approved through the university’s curriculum process and first appeared in the 2011-2012 University Catalogue; currently enrolled students were grandfathered in to declare the minor if they could complete all requirements before graduation.  In addition to the introductory and capstone courses, new offerings in literature, film, special topics, and first-year Japanese language courses, and many revised courses in history, political science, communication, and other disciplines, were added to the curriculum.  The grant also afforded us the opportunity to expand our library holdings to support the program.

During the second year of our grant, 2010-2011, the Fall/Spring seminar series was entitled “Japan and Korea: Tradition and Modernity.”  Speakers and topics included:

Prof. Mark Ravina, Dept. of History, Emory University, Atlanta, on Bushido in the early modern and modern eras; his public lecture was “Fantasies of Valor: Legends of the Samurai in Japan and the U.S.”      

Prof. Alexis Dudden, Dept. of History, University of Connecticut, Storrs, on relations among Japan, Korea, Russia, and the U. S.  Her lecture was entitled “Dangerous Islands: Northeast Asia’s Really BIG Problem with Really Tiny Little Pieces of Land.”

Prof. Samuel Morse, Professor of Art and the History of Art, Amherst College, on Japanese art and aesthetics.  His public lecture was entitled:  “Enlivening the Image: Realism and the Sculpture of  Japan’s Kamakura Period (1185-1333)”         

Prof. Shigenori Nagatomo, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Temple University, Philadelphia, on Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, and Shinto.  His public lecture was “The Diamond Sutra’s Logic of Not: Toward a Holistic Mode of Thinking.”

Prof. Donald Clark, Professor of History, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, on the history and current situation in North and South Korea.  He gave a lecture on “Art and Politics of North Korea.”

Prof. Meera S. Viswanathan,  Dept. of Comparative Literature, Brown University, Providence, on   Japanese and Korean literature, film, and popular culture.  Her seminar was after the semester had ended, so she did not give a public lecture. 

In cooperation with the RWU Spiegel Center for Global and International Programs, scholars were invited to campus as part of a new East Asian lecture series and to perform in Alive!Arts music programming.   The grant has provided a foundation on which to build a sustainable, enriching program for our students and the local community.  Events promote artists and scholars from both the U.S. and Asia, and are intended to forge partnerships within the local area and region, and with East Asian experts at other institutions, in the U.S. and abroad.

Faculty developed short-term study abroad courses, allowing 2-3-week programs in both China and Japan.  After the first such program in China in summer 2010, Profs. Zhou and Mulligan, along with Associate Dean Roberta Adams, met with faculty at the Beijing Foreign Studies University to explore possible longer-term partnerships.  During the faculty cultural immersion trip to Japan in the summer of 2012, the group met with representatives from several universities in Shizuoka.  These initiatives have resulted in two summer programs on the RWU campus in which small groups of Chinese and Japanese students participate in 2-3 week language and U.S. culture intensive courses and field trips.

In cooperation with the RWU Spiegel Center for Global and International Education, scholars were invited to campus as part of a new East Asian lecture series and Alive!Arts music programming.   These events have continued after the grant; they are open to the local community, involving artists and scholars from both the U.S. and Asia, and are intended to forge partnerships within the local area and region, and with East Asian experts at other institutions, in the U.S. and abroad.