Univ. launches Asian studies concentration

Oscar Abello

AA new East Asian Studies Concentration has recently been established under the leadership of Political Science professor, Dr. A. Maria Toyoda. A former research fellow at Stanford’s Institute for International Studies, Toyoda came to the University last year. Applications for the concentration are now available online.

“Although they are far across the Pacific,” Toyoda said, “East Asia is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our culture.”

Already the birthplace of many technologies both new and old, East Asia has recently become the locus of rapid change in labor and capital markets. Bankers and brokers in East Asia are buying American stock, which pumps new money into our economy. At the same time, many American jobs are being outsourced to East Asia.

This delicate balance of jobs and money has significantly increased the power of East Asia, making it more and more relevant for Americans to know about the area and its cultures.

“Part of the reason we were blindsided by events like Sept. 11 is the death of area studies in American schools,” Toyoda said.

“Fewer and fewer schools and especially colleges are encouraging their students to learn about cultures besides their own. 9/11 has at least spotlighted the need to train more country specialists.”

Toyoda noted that hers was not the first proposal for such a program. Japanese professor Masako Hamada has also made similar efforts in the past.

“It’s terrific that the administration now sees this as a priority,” Toyoda said.

The University currently offers courses in several cultural areas, including Arab and Islamic, Irish, African, Russian and Latin American studies.