Japan Foundation supports new Global Japan Project

Skyrocketing interest in Japanese language and popular culture, and the country’s environmental, economic, and political issues demonstrates the vital impact of Japan’s contemporary global position. The Global Japan Project at Penn State will blaze new pathways for teaching and research to connect students and faculty in a wide variety of disciplines to their counterparts in Japan.

Thanks to significant support from the Japan Foundation and Penn State, the project will develop enhanced research, exchange, and networking opportunities for students and faculty in humanities, social sciences, education, business, and international affairs. The Asian Studies Program and the Center for Global Studies, both in the College of the Liberal Arts, will help forge links between Japanese studies and the College of Education, the School of International Affairs, and the Smeal Business College, as well as peer institutions in Japan.

"Through the Global Japan Project, we will recruit a new faculty member with expertise in the history of modern Japan and its role in 20th century global transformations," said Jonathan Abel, Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies. "This will expand our core of five faculty scholars in Japanese studies and enhance our ability to train globally literate citizens who understand the nuances of Japan's position in our interconnected world."

Among the planned activities are to develop more courses in modern and contemporary Japanese history with a global focus to meet rising student demand, to expand the number of Japanese scholars attending the Global Asias conference and research workshops, and to support  visiting scholars from Japan to the Penn State campus. Another goal to assist other Penn State departments and universities without existing Japanese studies resources and area  K-12 schools in developing Japan-oriented course-units and projects.

The Global Japan Project also will develop embedded study abroad programs, which are short-term study abroad experiences offered as part of an academic course taught on campus. Faculty at Penn State and a partner institution in Japan will teach simultaneous courses on a select topic, with their students conversing and collaborating through web technologies. Then, Penn State students can travel to visit their peers in Japan and host them here. The Japan Foundation grant also supports scholarships for students pursuing longer study abroad programs.

The Japan Studies component of the Asian Studies Program already has strong enrollments in Japan-related undergraduate courses. The program enrolls 130 to 140 students in Japanese 001 each fall and reaches about 560 students a year at all levels of language, literary, and cultural courses. The Japanese major is the largest major in the Asian Studies Program, currently with 45 majors and 25 minors. More than 120 students a year take the general undergraduate courses on such topics as Japanese film or contemporary culture.

“By expanding opportunities for every Penn State student to learn about Japan, we can significantly improve their understanding of the country, culture, and society,” Dr. Abel said. “We will be educating future leaders in business, education, diplomacy, science, and media about Japan’s long history of international engagement and its participation in global politics, economics, and history.”

Contacts: 
Last Updated April 15, 2013