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History and Initial Activity

In 2002, Beloit College was selected by the Freeman Foundation as one of a number of institutions in the United States receiving funding under a Freeman Foundation Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative (FFUASI). A grant of $1,000,000 supported a range of activities into the 2007/08 academic year, at which time Beloit College was invited to submit a proposal to participate in a second initiative. Beloit College received an additional $300,000 for activity in calendar years 2009 and 2010.  A generous gift from the bequest of life trustee William Keefer enabled the college to meet a requirement to match the second year of funding with an equal amount of support for a third year of activity.

Qualitatively, the Freeman Foundation initiative had an enormous impact on Beloit College. Faculty development workshops and seminars enabled both Asian Studies specialists and non-specialists to gain new expertise; this in turn translated into the creation of new courses and course segments and the production of scholarship. New exchange partnerships were established with Henan University (Kaifeng, China) and Shandong University (Jinan, China), while visits to existing partners (Lingnan University, Hong Kong, and Kansai Gaidai University, Hirakata, Japan) led to a strengthening of ties. The teaching of Japanese and Chinese were strengthened as new faculty were appointed, course offerings expanded, and the summer Center for Language Study (CLS) afforded students the chance to rapidly increase their Chinese and Japanese skills through intensive language study. As a result, it was possible to create new majors in Chinese and Japanese. Additions to library collections made materials available to support the new curricular offerings, while a variety of outreach activities extended learning about Asia to the general public: high school teachers, and middle school and high school students.

Quantitative highlights of activity from 2002 through the spring 2008 semester include:

  • 126 Asian Studies courses taught (excluding language courses)
  • 54 new courses with a substantial focus on Asia introduced, including the study abroad course Chinese Cities in Transition
  • 28 existing courses added Asian content
  • 39 faculty added Asian content to their courses
  • 9 new Chinese and Japanese language courses added
  • 55 scholarships awarded for summer intensive study of Chinese and Japanese
  • 65 faculty/staff visits made to Asia
  • 87 outreach activities conducted

Additionally, the activity undertaken through the initiative helped lead to such developments as the appointment of an Asian art historian to direct the Wright Museum of Art and teach in the Art Department, the appointment of a tenure-track faculty member in Japanese, and the acquisition of STARTALK funding to support the enrollment of high school students in the CLS intensive Chinese summer program.

Timeline of the History of Beloit College and Asia: Beloit College and Asia - 1846 - 2006