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Message from the Head

Dear friends,

Asian Studies, since becoming a Department in 2013, has continued to grow at all levels. As of April 2016, we have a total of 73 Majors, and in 2015-2016, some 2,000 students enrolled in our language courses.

Our faculty, with expertise in literature, history, political science, applied linguistics, and other fields, continue to publish at a torrid pace, helping us move closer to our goal of being one of the best Asian Studies programs between the coasts.

Our Department’s peer-reviewed journal, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, published by the University of Minnesota Press, has so far published three very well-received issues, and the fourth one is forthcoming this Fall. We are confident that our journal is fast becoming one of the most important venues that features cutting-edge scholarship on Asia in global contexts. Our annual “Penn State Summer Institute in Asian Studies” just completed the third meeting this past summer, focusing on the topic of colonial science. We look forward to the fourth iteration, the theme of which will be indigeneity. Our biennial “Global Asias” international conference will have its fourth installment next semester in March 2017. We have also inaugurated an ongoing annual Asian Studies symposium series with the University of Pennsylvania, which we call A2/P2. The first symposium will take place on our campus this Fall, and the next will be held at U Penn, as the two institutions take turns to play host in coming years. I should also mention that the annual conference of the AJLS (Association of Japanese Literary Studies) will be hosted by our Department this Fall.

In addition, we continue to run a number of ad hoc events, including film series, workshops, seminars, and public lectures, as we continue to reach out to all corners of the Penn State community. Internationally, we are building strong relationships in China, Japan, Korea and India, as we seek to expand study abroad options for students, and opportunities for collaborative scholarship and exchange for faculty and graduate students. Most notably, with the generous support of a three-year (2015-2018) grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, we have been able to conduct exchanges with Nanjing University on multiple fronts—undergraduate, graduate, and faculty.

In terms of graduate education, our dual-title doctoral program, in partnership with History, Comparative Literature, Applied Linguistics, and Political Science, has been growing apace, with a current enrollment of some 15 graduate students.  

One of the central goals of our Department is to create a climate that is open to the possibility of intellectual surprise and incubation. While we are very happy with our hard work, we are keenly aware that our continued growth depends also on our Asian Studies colleagues elsewhere. Therefore, we are always eager for opportunities of collaborations with our friends, who help us keep Asian Studies vital and vibrant at Penn State. Please let us know if you can think of ways we might be doing things even better.

On-cho Ng
August 2016