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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grant adds to UNCP’s Asian book collection

A grant to acquire “100 Books for Understanding Contemporary Japan” from The Nippon Foundation will bolster the new Asian Studies Program at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The initiative supports UNCP’s drive to internationalize its campus and the vision of the future of higher education in North Carolina from the UNC Tomorrow initiative.

Annika CulverDr. Annika A. Culver, a member of the History Department faculty, successfully applied for the grant, valued at nearly $5,000.

An Asia Studies minor will debut at UNCP in fall 2009 with Dr. Culver as its coordinator. The minor course of study is slated for final approval this spring by the Faculty Senate and will be followed by an application for a major.

“I am very excited about the new Asian Studies Program,” Dr. Culver said. “I thought the grant would be an especially good way for UNCP to obtain books during difficult budget times.”

Dr. Martin Slann, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the new resources are a welcome addition to the developing Asian Studies Program.

“In great part because of the efforts of history Professor Annika Culver, UNC Pembroke is well on its way to becoming a campus with a strong and visible presence in the important area of Asian Studies,” Dean Slann said. “The growing campus relationship with Japan is the latest chapter is this enterprise. Japan is the second largest economy in the world and has a very close commercial and political association with the United States that will only continue to grow in the future. 

“The library’s holdings have been increased with vital titles that will be of benefit to current and prospective students,” he said. “Our expectation is that we will build on and enhance the strong foundations of American-Japanese understanding.  This is an excellent and critical beginning.”   

The books will be housed in the Mary Livermore Library and are an excellent addition to its Asian collection, Dr. Culver said.

“The collection of 100 books offers some new sources and some classics on Japanese history and culture by diverse authors,” Dr. Culver said. “It infuses our library with new sources on Japan.

“This collection is a real positive for our students and for UNCP,” she said. “There is considerable interest in Asian Studies on campus.”

Headquartered in Tokyo and founded by the late industrialist and philanthropist Ryoichi Sasakawa, The Nippon Foundation’s 100 Books program seeks to provide a balanced and informed view of modern Japan. Now under the guidance of Sasakawa’s son, Yohei, the Foundation’s many education, public health and social welfare programs seek to foster a peaceful and prosperous global society.

The following are some of the titles in the collection that are earmarked for use by UNCP students due to their expressed interest in manga, anime, Japanese pop culture, and samurai.  

  • “Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the U.S.” by Roland Kelts;
  • “Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots” by Timothy N. Harnyak;
  • “Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga” by Frederick L. Schodt; and
  • “Bushido: the Soul of Japan” by Inazo Nitobe, written in 1905 to describe “the way of the warrior.”

Classics by American and Japanese authors include Maurius Jansen’s “The Making of Modern Japan,” Andrew Gordon’s “Postwar Japan as History,” John Dower’s “War Without Mercy,” and Maruyama Masao’s “Thought and Behavior in Modern Japanese Politics” among others.

Some of the books will be used immediately in Dr. Culver’s course “Japanese History from Prehistoric Times to the Present” and in a course she will teach next fall titled “Japanese Imperialism and War, 1868-1945.”

Dr. Culver has lived in Japan and China and speaks Japanese and Mandarin in addition to German and French. She has studied at the Beijing Language and Culture Institute, served as a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow at Waseda University in Tokyo from 2004 to late 2005, and was a guest lecturer at Beijing University, where she taught a seminar on American perspectives of modern Japanese history.

Japanese history was the focus of Dr. Culver’s Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (2007), and her dissertation was about how Japanese intellectuals of the 1920s to early 1940s viewed Manchuria and China. She received a Master’s degree in Regional Studies East Asia from Harvard University in 2000. Many international educational experiences and extensive research in Asia make her an excellent candidate to lead an Asian Studies program.

“I am very active in promoting Asian studies at UNCP,” she said. “The opportunity to start a new program here was very attractive.”

Across campus, there is more progress in Asian studies at UNCP.

Dr. Culver worked with Foreign Languages Department Chair Dr. Liliana Wendorff to bring a visiting instructor from Taiwan to teach Chinese language next year.

“In a survey of students, Chinese was listed as very desirable,” Dr. Culver said.

Business professor Dr. Ramin Maysami will teach the course “Asian Economics” next year. An interdisciplinary “Introduction to Asian Studies” course is also proposed by Dr. Culver for 2009-10.

Dr. John Bowman, professor of sociology, is working on a grant to receive a Confucius Institute at UNCP.  He attended the East-West Center's China Institute last year, and Dr. Culver will follow in his footsteps this summer and attend a three-week seminar on “Infusing Asian Studies into the Curriculum” at center. 

UNCP enrolled approximately 50 Chinese students in 2008-09, and the University has long identified study abroad and recruiting international students as high priorities.

The new minor has an advisory committee composed of faculty members from multi-disciplinary fields and specific interests, including: Dr. Culver, Dr. Bowman, Dr. Maysami, Dr. Mihwa Choi of the Philosophy and Religion Department, Dr. Youngsuk Chae of the English and Theatre Department, Dr. Kevin Freeman of the Political Science and Public Administration Department, Dr. Dandan Liu of the Mass Communication Department and Stephen Robison of the Art Department.

The minor carries a requirement of six hours of core courses and 12 hours of related electives.

For more information about Asian Studies or the 100 Books grant, please contact Dr. Annika Culver at 910.521.6229 or email annika.culver@uncp.edu.

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