Thank you for your interest in the 29th summer institute on Infusing Asian
Studies into the Undergraduate Curriculum, the flagship program of the Asian
Studies Development Program (ASDP) at the East-West Center. Since the Infusing
Institute was launched in 1991, the world of higher education has undergone
dramatic changes, some welcome and some not.
One thing that has not changed is that the people who apply for and participate in ASDP programs do so because they are personally motivated. They are ready to stretch academically beyond the horizons of their graduate training. And they are so committed to benefitting their students and institutions that they are willing to spend their own “free” time doing so. Given this, it’s probably not surprising that being a part of these programs is almost always an extraordinarily rewarding experience for everyone involved.
Another factor in the rewards of taking part in the Infusing Institute is the multidisciplinary nature of the lectures and discussions around which the program is organized. As academics, we often identify first and foremost with our own disciplines and departments. Although there is a lot of talk about interdisciplinary research and teaching, institutional commitments remain tentative at most colleges and universities and there is notably more talk than action when it comes to rewarding interdisciplinary approaches in hiring and promoting faculty. Yet, we all know that the public purpose of higher education is to prepare students to meet the challenges of a world that is not divided up by disciplines. Through our own involvement in ASDP programs, we have found our own lives as teachers and scholars enhanced by the opportunity to engage others from outside our own disciplines of philosophy and history. ASDP institutes offer opportunities to go “back to school,” learning about other cultures and societies through the distinctive lenses of different scholarly disciplines, but also learning from and learning with others—both presenters and participants—whose lives, skills and passions are often very different from our own.
Here in Hawai‘i, we like potluck. Everyone brings a different dish to share, and somewhat miraculously, everyone goes home with more than they brought. Each Infusing Institute is an intellectual potluck—an opportunity for realizing the immense academic and personal dividends of being part of a cognitively and culturally diverse community. We hope to have the pleasure of reading your application and making good on that opportunity this coming summer in Honolulu.
Peter D. Hershock, Institute Director