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Indiana University


Director’s Letter

A publication of the East Asian Studies Center, Indiana University

December 2013

Letter from the Director

Dear EASC Friends, Colleagues, Supporters,

As the snow (and rain!) falls and the holiday season is upon us, we are delighted to update you on the fruits of our labor—and yours—during the past semester.  Our coverage of activities and events ranges broadly, from summaries of the research, awards and adventures of our faculty members and students to an interview with George Wilson, Professor Emeritus, Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures.  Having taught Japanese history at IU for thirty-five years, served as IU’s first Dean for International Programs, and directed IU EASC until his retirement in 2002, George is our “go to” repository of EASC institutional history and memory.We never fail to learn something new through our conversations, and we share this one with you.

One of the implicit themes you will notice in this issue is the extent to which EASC exists in an increasingly complex ecology of IU global and international studies.  Even as we remain focused on our key mission and constituencies, there are scores of EA-related teaching and research initiatives across campus and beyond, and we feel a strong pull on our energies from many different directions.  For example, a key issue that both campus strategic planning committees and global demographic, technological and economic shifts affecting higher education have encouraged us to think much more about is university partnerships.  IU affiliations with EA institutions have been highlighted in recent presidential trips and forums as critical to preparing students to succeed in a global society. The Office of Vice President for International Affairs Fall 2013 International Newsletter begins with an article titled, “Bridges to East Asia.” I encourage you to read the profiles there of Ewha Woman’s University, Sungkyunkwan University, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Sun Yat-sen University, the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, National Taiwan University, and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. What tremendous resources and possibilities!  And yet, what should their relationships to IU EA Studies be?  What are their potential roles in supporting our collective effort to build a more inclusive global learning community?

At this moment, I have beside my cup of tea a copy of a front page article from the December 12 2013 New York Times. It reports on U.S.-China university partnerships and the varied and sometimes contentious “balancing acts” they require among desires for global prestige, increased revenue, and protection of freedom of expression and a broad definition of liberal learning.  The latest widely publicized examples have been precipitated by the controversial dismissals of two Chinese professors, from Peking University and East China University of Political Science and Law.  How do we at IU think about collaborative networks as a means for enhancing quality education and research in a globalizing society?

Two years ago, Marginson [Higher Education Quarterly, Volume 65, No 4, October 2011, pp 411-433] described three overlapping “imaginaries” of higher education: the academy as an economic market of products and commodities; as a status-seeking field of global competition and ranking, and as a creative site for networking “patterned by communications, collegiality, linkages, partnerships and global consortia.” Our new year’s resolution at EASC is to join hands with our University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Title VI National Resource Center partners to more fully embody and live up to the promise of that third imaginary.  And we welcome your insight and wisdom to help us on our way.

Thank you, everyone, for your many contributions to EASC.  Embrace the holiday season, wherever and however you are celebrating it. We wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to working with you in 2014.

Warm regards,