A&S Hosts Year of China

By Whitney Hale, Erin Holaday Ziegler

china logoAs an emerging regional and world power, China has caught the attention of the American public; questions of foreign policy, economics, domestic politics and environment tend to dominate the media.


This fall, the College of Arts & Sciences will launch a yearlong focus on China as a part of its Passport to the World program.


"The Year of China: Awaken the Past, Discover the Future" will include an entire year of lectures, activities and events related to China from throughout UK's campus designed to introduce the study of China.


"By inviting guest speakers, organizing educational events and promoting the study of China past and present, we aim to stimulate dialogue and curiosity," said A&S Dean Mark Lawrence Kornbluh. "In bringing China to Kentucky, it is our hope that through a multidisciplinary, year-long engagement, our students and wider community will be better prepared for the future."


To kick off the initiative, A&S has invited University of California, Irvine history professor, Asia Society associate fellow and bestselling author Jeffrey Wasserstrom to visit campus Sept. 19 and 20 for classroom visits, master classes and small group sessions with students and faculty.


Wasserstrom's latest book, "China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know" (Oxford University Press), will also be the first assigned reading in the Year of China's monthly book club.


Following Wasserstrom's visit, A&S will host the Year of China Open House on Sept. 21, an opportunity for UK students to grasp just how many colleges, departments and programs on campus focus on Chinese culture, education and study abroad programming.


The Year of China initiative coincides with the inauguration of a new major and minor in Chinese Studies through the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. “The new program offers four years of Chinese language, study abroad opportunities, and an interdisciplinary curriculum covering modern and pre-modern Chinese culture,” said Matthew Wells, professor of Chinese and director of Undergraduate Studies for the new program.


The Year of China will include a two-hour undergraduate course, A&S 100, as the South Africa initiative incorporated last year. "Passport to China: Global Issues & Local Understanding" will be offered in both the fall and spring semesters, featuring a series of film screenings and guest speakers.


"China is becoming politically and economically more important to the U.S. and to the world," said Keiko Tanaka, director of the UK Asia Center, professor of sociology and faculty director of the China initiative. "We need to be asking questions about the role of China in the world today, about Chinese culture, economy, politics, science and education in the past and present and about where China is headed in the future."


In October, the ArtsAsia Festival, a collaborative effort among the UK Asia Center, UK Fine Arts and A&S colleges, along with the UK Confucius Institute, will sponsor cultural events, such as performances of the “Monkey King” and a Symposium on Visual Culture in Contemporary China.


In addition to the launch of a Chinese Studies major at UK and the A&S 100 class, spring events include the Confucius Institute’s Lunar New Year Celebration, an early 20th century postcard exhibit sponsored by UK Libraries and a program on Chinese medicine.


Next summer, students will have the opportunity to travel to Shanghai University for a summer language program. UK students have visited Shanghai for the past two years, earning six credits in a four-week intensive Chinese language course.


A&S's Year of China is a part of the College of Arts & Sciences Envision 2020: Passport to the World, an academic initiative established to prepare the UK community — faculty, students, staff and alumni — to meet the challenges and opportunities of globalization.


"We really want students to think about other parts of the world and understand how different they are," explained Kornbluh. "Life is a lot more global, and there are a lot more connections to be made. It's important for students to see how small the world really is. Focusing on one area for the entire year makes sense."


To hear more about what Dean Kornbluh has to say about the Year of China, listen to the full podcast here.


For more information on the College of Arts & Sciences Year of China, please contact Tanaka at ktanaka@email.uky.edu or visit the Year of China website beginning this month at http://china.as.uky.edu.

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