Asian Studies Programs at Denison Benefit From $673,000 Freeman Foundation Grant
Posted: February 4, 2002
The Freeman Foundation has announced a four-year, $673,380 grant for strengthening and expanding Denison University's offerings in Asian Studies, an area of study offered by college for more than 40 years.
The monies will be used to add a faculty position in the college's East Asian Studies program, support student research and internships in Asian Studies, and hire a full-time curator for Denison's significant collection of Asian art.
"The Freeman Foundation's grant will enable us to further strengthen an already strong program," said University Provost David Anderson, who is Denison's chief academic officer. "As is appropriate for a liberal arts school, Asian Studies at Denison is truly interdisciplinary, ranging across languages, literature, history, religion, anthropology, art, philosophy, economics, geography, communication, political science and theatre."
Students in the East Asian Studies program will now have, thanks to the grant, opportunities for extensive one-on-one work with faculty, both in directed studies during the school year and in summer research projects undertaken between academic terms. There will also be funding available to help support students on internships with companies and other organizations.
In a given year, approximately 200 students (out of a student body of 2,100) enroll in East Asian Studies courses; 12 to 15 faculty teach the material. A formal major in the subject has been offered since 1988; previously, the offerings were as an academic "concentration." Presently, there are 13 East Asian Studies majors and minors enrolled at Denison; five are expected to graduate at the University's 2002 Commencement in May.
East Asian Studies at Denison started in 1959 with a major grant from the Ford Foundation to bring a "greater emphasis on Asian materials and perspectives" to the curriculum. Recent developments in East Asian study at Denison have included the addition of a new position in Japanese language, the appointment of a Japan specialist in the theatre department, and the awarding of tenure to a faculty member who teaches Chinese.
Denison's extensive holdings in Asian art have earned its national recognition. The Chinese material was donated largely by China Baptist missionary Daniel Sheets Dye, a 1907 Denison alumnus, and features silk embroidered robes from the late 19th century, as well as blue-and-white cross-stitch folk embroideries. Unique to the Denison collection is the large number of charcoal rubbings made by Dye of stone carvings on buildings throughout China.
The Burmese collection came primarily from the many Denison graduates who were American Baptist missionaries in Burma (now Myanmar) in the 19th century. The collection is especially rich in Buddha figures in many sizes and styles. The late William Hensley, a connoisseur and friend of the college, augmented this collection with several more choice items from his own collection in 1989.
"The Freeman Foundation's generous grant comes at an opportune time for Denison," remarked Provost Anderson. "It will help us refine a coherent vision and focus for an important interdisciplinary program. We are grateful to the Foundation for enabling us to add breadth and depth to this program. It can become a model for others to follow."
The Freeman Foundation's Undergraduate Asian Studies Funding Initiative, under which the grant to Denison was made, is committed to "increasing, strengthening, and popularizing the teaching of Asia in college and university classrooms. The Foundation thinks it is important to develop in the U.S. at the undergraduate level a greater knowledge and appreciation of oriental cultures, histories and economics."
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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