This summer Lawrence University was awarded a $1.5 million grant by the Freeman Foundation to promote Asian studies on campus. This grant will greatly enhance the study of Asia at Lawrence by creating opportunities for Lawrentians, both students and faculty, to visit and learn about Asia.
This highly sought-after grant was won despite strong competition. East Asian Languages and Cultures Professor Jane Yang, stunned by the generosity of the Foundation, said, “They did not cut anything that we asked for.” The grant will be used to fund three separate programs that will help to continue the globalization of the Lawrence curriculum from its classical roots.
The ultimate goal is to help popularize Asian Studies on campus. According to professor Yang, “We really want to encourage Freshmen to think long term…I would urge them to prepare to focus on Asia.”
The most significant long term change on campus is the addition of Japanese as a foreign language. Although in the past it was occasionally offered as an introductory seminar, this will be the first time the language is available as an integral part of the foreign language system. This permanent faculty member will be introduced in a manner similar to that of Lawrence’s first Chinese language instructor, who was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation in 1989. Since that addition, the department has grown along with student interest.
In the next four years, this grant will allow Lawrentians to learn about Asia-on site. Eight separate trips are planned to Asia. During each year the grant will fund a faculty trip and a student trip. Preparations are already being made for the first faculty trip, which will occur in the next twelve months. This trip will include eighteen Lawrence professors and one teacher each from Appleton West High School and Appleton East High School. In the future, each trip will include two teachers from local high schools.
Student trips will be designed to complement a related class. Each year the trips will have a different focus, such as environmental studies or economic development. These trips, led by Lawrence faculty, will serve the same purpose that a field trip to Lake Winnebago might serve in an Aquatic Ecology course: they will provide real-time experiences that cannot be replicated in the classroom.
The nature of this grant is designed to provides opportunities for a broad spectrum of Lawrentians. According to government professor Dena Skran, “This program is a great opportunity for students to take courses in Asia and have the opportunity to go there.” Another component will be an enhanced internship program for Lawrentians in Asia. This program will use the momentum built by the National Security Education Program grant, which allowed Lawrence students to work in American businesses operating in Asia, such as Kimberly-Clark and the Kohler company.