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Asian Studies Program



Faculty members from across the campus are encouraged to explore the possibility of adding units or modules on any region or country in Asia to existing undergraduate courses or to develop new undergraduate courses. The Asian Studies Program has funding for faculty travel leading to course enhancement or development.




Sloane Christine Burke (Department of Health Education and Promotion, College of Health and Human Performance)


According to the World Health Organization, China is a priority country of public health importance and challenges due to emerging diseases in that nation such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neonatal conditions and existing health issues including stomach, liver, and lung cancers and heart disease (WHO, 2006).  International public health is a growing area in the field of health, and one that is important to expand in our department.  The Asian Studies course development grant would provide me the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China for three weeks during Summer I (June) of 2009 to develop partnerships with key health professionals and health organizations for international course enhancement. My visits and interviews with key contacts at universities and clinics in Beijing will provide me with information, photographs, and videos that will be used to create a new version of the Global Health (HLTH 3520) course which will focus on health education and health care practices in Asia.  In addition, these contacts and resources that I acquire via my travel project will also be used to develop a module focusing on health issues in China for my existing Health Disparities course (HLTH 3020), as one of the three modules on global health disparities. 


This travel project will also be used to create academic partnerships with universities and health agencies working in community and public health in Beijing. In my visit to China, I would focus more narrowly on public health - to form partnerships with contacts that will provide qualitative dialogue on current health issues, feedback on curriculum design, and an opportunity to conference via technology video links and online chats with students in the Global Health and Health Disparities courses. 


The key organizations where I will pursue my contacts include Peking University Health Science Center, School of Public Health; Capital University of Medical Sciences, and Tsinghua University; China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (CATCM); the Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics (BJU); and the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These contacts will provide important insights into health issues, health disparities, and health education and prevention strategies that exist in both the urban and rural Chinese population served by these organizations.



Cindy Elmore (Department of Communications, College of Fine Arts and Communications)


In my International News Communication course (COMM 3390), I teach about numerous issues related to the mass media throughout the world. One of the issues I am interested in further understanding, updating and developing for my course relates to government control of the media in Singapore. Singapore has long and traditionally held strong authoritarian control over the news media. The government is highly sensitive to criticism in the media. When accusations are made in the news media there against the government or its officials, the government is quick to sue for libel or to crack down in other ways. Yet the country itself is not draconian – it is a modern, capitalistic, strongly globalized and wealthy country. So several things make its control over the media unique: 1) Singapore is home to one of Asia’s greatest concentrations of international media, whose reporters, as noncitizens, are not entitled to Singapore’s “constitutionally protected” freedoms of speech and expression. I want to learn more about how the international press located in Singapore does its job in the face of such restrictions, and to learn about what repercussions have occurred. 2) The entire country is wired for cable and Internet access, which would, on its face, make Internet restrictions extremely difficult. Yet, apparently, Singapore has found a unique way to do so. Instead of regulating the Internet itself, my review of the literature states that it instead regulates political speech about Singapore on the Web, effectively precluding its use by opposition parties who fear backlash. All political web sites must be registered with the state, and sponsors of the sites are legally liable for the content on the sites, making them easy to monitor. I would like to meet with media scholars in Singapore, and possibly with opposition groups or government officials with whom I could discuss the ramifications and techniques involved in Internet monitoring.


Calvin Mercer (Religious Studies Program, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)

Most of my professional training is focused on Christian studies, and my travels have provided the most exposure to the Middle East where I have studied various aspects of the Judaeo-Christian tradition.  I have a particular interest in monasticism and have a good deal of retreat experience in the Christian monastic tradition, especially Roman Catholic Trappist houses in America and Israel.


In our small ECU Religious Studies Program, it is necessary that I teach outside my Christian studies specialty.  I developed the course “Mysticism” (PHIL 3698) with the ultimate goal of addressing mysticism across religions.  I have found that the course needs development in two ways.  First, because of my background and training, it is too heavily focused on the Christian mystical tradition.  Second, I found that the course works much better when I combine the study of mysticism with monasticism.  Most mystics lived and worked in a monastery of some sort, and emphasizing the monastic context enables students to better understand and appreciate the sometimes esoteric mystics and their writings.


On my own, with regard to several of my courses that move outside my specialty, I have tried to provide a corrective to my dependence on the Christian material. One area, however, where I have very little knowledge and exposure is Theravada Buddhism.  With this grant, my plan is to spend between 2-3 weeks in Thailand in May, 2009 and focus on Theravada Buddhism.  I anticipate that most of my time could be most productively spent in and around Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  However, I would like to keep open the option of visiting other cities and of an excursion into Laos, should my pre-travel research indicate that these centers would provide a deeper understanding of Buddhism in that part of the world.


William Obenour (Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies) College of Health and Human Performance)


First, I will present some background information on the course which will be improved by traveling to Asia. The RCLS 4121 Tourism Planning and Development course provides a teaching and learning opportunity to integrate global understanding through the study of tourism.  Many of the resources used in the course are international because of the complex and dramatic impact tourism has on countries around the world.  The textbook for the course reflects a global perspective on tourism and presents many case studies on tourism impacts.  Unfortunately, the textbook case studies explain and describe tourism issues in a narrative form that is concise and visually lacking for the students of 2008 and beyond.  The global issues relevant to tourism planning and development become difficult to comprehend for the students who are the future tourism marketers and planners.  The profession requires more tourism marketers and planners who are cognizant of the ramifications for transporting tourists around the globe and truly have a framework for understanding the environment, social institutions such as family structures and religions and economy of various cultures.


Traveling to the Asia and specifically the country of Cambodia will enable the construction of a video and text based case study of tourism centered on the International Heritage Site of Angkor Wat.  I am seeking funding to travel to Cambodia and complete the case study.  Traveling to Angkor Wat and visually capturing images for students provides a context for the complex tourism issues associated with a World Heritage Site in an Asian country such as Cambodia.  My sources of documentation will comprise observation and video recording, and discussion with tourism leaders and local leaders.  In addition, I will analyze the destination image of this site as seen in global media outlets. This is an excellent site for a case study to learn of the contradictory mix of conservation and exploitation, scholarship and commerce, and preservation and development that may arise from tourism.


Lester Zeager (Department of Economics, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)

I have taught ECON 3353 (Development Economics) at ECU for twenty-three years running… 

Over 23 years a great deal has changed in the field of development economics, and the most spectacular changes have occurred in Asia… I have often wished that I could visit the region first-hand and develop relationships with Asian economists so that I could offer more vivid impressions of these developments to students.


Development economics covers a wide range of topics:  poverty & inequality, environmental concerns, population, investments in education and health, international trade, agriculture, financial intermediation, foreign aid, institutions, and governance.  My proposal involves

·         Preparing materials (PowerPoint slides, short articles, and lecture examples) that illustrate five of these topics from Asian countries. 

·         Replacing my long popular, but now rather dated, supplemental text about sub-Saharan Africa with one that features lessons from Asian development experience. 

·         Supplementing the video clips in my lectures with ones from the Asian Development Bank


I am envisioning a total trip of approximately two weeks, with one week in Malaysia and another in Taiwan.  In both countries, I would exchange ideas with Asian economists about the Asian development experience and gather materials for the changes to ECON 3353described above. 


Christine Avenarius (Department of Anthropology, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)

I am applying for an Asian Studies Course Development Grant to travel to Vietnam for 2 weeks in May of 2008. Experiences with Vietnamese culture and contact with Vietnamese research institutions will enable me to enhance my teaching of ASIA 2000, Introduction to Asian Studies, and to develop a new anthropology course on the Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia modeled after my current course ANTH 3002, Cultures of East Asia. Specifically, I want to focus on recent changes in gender relations and family structures influenced by Vietnam’s participation in the global marketplace. A preliminary literature review uncovered the existence of several data sets on gender and family relations held by research institutions in Vietnam, e.g. the Vietnam Longitudinal Survey Project by the Institute of Sociology in Hanoi.

Prior to travel I want to establish contact with three institutions in Vietnam, namely the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi; the Institute of Sociology at the National Center for Social Sciences and Humanities (NCSSH) in Hanoi, and the Department of Ethnology, Archaeology and Sociology at Hue University in Central Vietnam. I chose the latter, Hue University, rather than an institution in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) because I hope to explore the difference between the main urban centers and less populated, but ethnically more diverse areas of the country. While in Vietnam one objective is to learn more about research projects in these institutions that might maybe lead to potential visits to field sites of local researchers. In addition, I am confident that my training as a social anthropologist and my previous experience in mainland China will allow me to understand Vietnamese culture from the point of view of the local people despite the fact that I don’t know the language.   REPORT   SYLLABUS    


Kathryn Hashimoto (Department of Hospitality Management, College of Human Ecology)


I teach two courses: 1) hospitality marketing and 2) hospitality service management. … Asians are reputed to be the most hospitable countries in the world. In Japan, the focus on the satisfied guest is legendary.  Historically, the Japanese geishas are legendary for their ability to study a guest’s needs and provide for their every desire.  In recent times, travelers always comment about the women who meet and greet every shopper at department stores.  What motivates the Japanese employee to provide excellent service? As Japan becomes more global, is that corporate culture changing? Do Japanese companies create motivational programs for their employees? Historically, Japanese workers stayed with one company for their entire work lives.  Is that still the case? These questions can only be answered by talking to people.  The service class explores the American efforts to identify a better way to do business.  However, it would be a better class if other cultures were introduced to show different corporate cultures and employee relationships.  Several cases would be created within the topics of corporate culture, hiring and training as well as motivation and handling complaints.  I would like to talk to hospitality professors who teach service management to explore what topics they cover and their perspectives.  In addition, I would like to observe service in various hospitality settings and take pictures and videos of service in action. Going to Japan would enable me to study first hand Japanese buying behaviors, their related motivations in selling techniques in advertisements, and their employee-employer relationships. REPORT 


Su-Ching Huang (Department of English, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)


My project is to visit South Korea for about two weeks in May 2009 to 1) meet with Korean scholars with expertise in Korean American literature and observe the reception of Korean American literature in Korea, especially writings by such writers as Younghill Kang,

Theresa Hak-kyung Cha, Chang-rae Lee, and Nora Okja Keller; 2) look into the legacy of Japanese colonialism in relation to Korean nationalism; 3) investigate US influences in Korea and Korean perception of Americans; 4) observe how Confucianism has been practiced in contemporary Korean society and how Koreans negotiate between traditional Asian/Korean values and Western influences.


The Korean trip would help me better appreciate the historical and cultural backgrounds of Korean American writers, several of whom are featured in my course syllabus for ENGL 3290 Asian American Literatures, to be offered every spring and cross-listed in Asian Studies. (I taught the course as a Special Topic (ENGL 4540) in Spring 2008).


The Korean trip would enable me to better understand these writers’ cultural backgrounds and look into how they make use of Korean history and culture in their creative writing. I especially would like to observe how South Koreans deal with the issue of “comfort women,” the majority of whom were from Korea, China and Japan, though women from other Japanese occupied countries during WWII were also forced into such sexual slavery, including those from Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesia. I would like to understand if and how the redress activism for “comfort women” intersects with Korean nationalist sentiments, and also how Koreans today look at the history of Japanese colonialism. South Koreans have been known for strong anti-US sentiments, and South Korean college students are recognized for political activism, and I would like to be in the country to verify those impressions. The Korean trip would enable me to have a greater understanding of the Korean American experience, especially when I teach topics surrounding Korean immigration to

the US, Korean-US relations, historical animosity between Korean and Japanese Americans, and so forth. REPORT REVISED SYLLABUS


Derek Maher (Religious Studies Program, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)


Over the winter break Dr, Maher will visit Thailand for three weeks in order to enhance the curriculum of one of the main courses I teach at East Carolina University, PHIL 2692, Buddhism.  This course is an introduction to early Buddhism, which usually enrolls about 60 students a year.  It covers the first thousand years of the religion, approximately from the 6th century B.C.E. to the 4th century C.E.  This was an era in which the earliest forms of the religion evolved into a variety of forms, now mainly organized under the rubric of Theravada and Mahayana.  The main area of his research is the Mahayana traditions that emerged in India and developed in Tibet.  Thus, he has spent most of the several years of fieldwork he conducted within Asia studying in regions where Mahayana history unfolded.  He has spent comparatively less time in Theravada regions. 

The opportunity to spend time in the Theravada country of Thailand is valuable to him because it will permit him to remedy this to a degree.  During the three weeks he will spend in Thailand under this grant, he will visit a variety of the most important monasteries (wat) in central and northern Thailand.  He will also visit museums, temples, and other cultural institutions that will help him to understand Thai Buddhism.  Finally, he will spend six days in a monastic retreat center engaging in traditional form of meditation instruction.  Through these activities, he intends to gain a deeper knowledge of Theravada history, doctrine, practice, and culture; he also expects to develop a clearer practical knowledge of how Theravada Buddhism is practiced and how it differs from Mahayana models REPORT  REVISED SYLLABUS  NEW COURSE




Holly Hapke (Department of Geography, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)


This project proposes to spend approximately 4 weeks in Sri Lanka in Summer 2008 for the purposes of developing educational modules in three courses that I currently teach: GEOG 3051 (Asia); GEOG 4325 (Resources, Population & Development); and GEOG 1000 Introduction to Geography. My objective is to develop two modules relating to Sri Lanka that will be incorporated into these 3 courses. The first module will be entitled, “Poverty, Politics & Development” and will be used primarily in GEOG 3051. The second module will be entitled “Environmental Degradation & the Politics of Tsunami Relief”. This will be developed for GEOG 4325. Modified versions of both modules will be incorporated into GEOG 1000.


Through professional contacts in the Department of Geography at the University of Peradeniya, I will arrange interactions with scholars at the University of Peradeniya and University of Colombo who are researching issues related to development, environment, political instability and tsunami relief. I will consult library materials at these two universities and will also take a number of field trips to various development projects sites and tsunami hit areas to collect images and interview residents and project and relief/rehabilitation workers. I will then develop the modules around a set of readings and illustrated case studies for the two upper division courses. For the GEOG 1000 course, I will develop a series of illustrated lectures from the materials collected for these two modules. REPORT REVISED SYLLABUS PHOTOS


Jan-Ru Wan (Textile Art Program, School of Art and Design, College of Fine Arts and Communication)


… I propose to travel and gather information about the textile heritage in Northern Thailand and Laos for a month during the summer of 2008. I hope to achieve multiple goals during this visit. First, I will document first-hand knowledge in the various aspects of textile creation, such as the process to create nature dye, ikat weaving, and the ways of living in the villages with a dominant textile culture. Second, I will collect as many samples as I can using my limited personal fund and bring them back to my classroom. Finally, I will connect with different textile programs in the universities in Thailand to develop summer study courses for 2009 or 2010. I hope that these activities will play a major role in developing our studio practice and in introducing textile history from Asia. The knowledge and materials from Asia will become an important aspect in our class, as our students will be inspired by Asian culture and rich history, and be able to integrate this learning experience in their own art creation. REPORT REVISED SYLLABUS I REVISED SYLLABUS II  PHOTOS



Okmyung Bin (Department of Economics, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences):

My course development project will focus on adding a module to the existing course-Econ 3323 Environmental Economics ... which will address timely and important environmental issues in East Asia, particularly in China. [...] The contents of the current course cover the environmental economic topics pertinent to Korea and Japan but lack of the up-to-date policy and management issues in China.  It is partly due to the limited public accessibility to data on China compared to Korea and Japan.  Site visits to Chinese institutions (e.g. Peking University or Tsinghua University) in July 2007 will enhance understating of the perception and behavioral responses to environmental problems in China.  Coupled with the current expertise in Korea and Japan, identifying and developing communication channels with Chinese institutions will enrich the course contents substantially.  Adding the module will expand the internationalization of the course by incorporating the current environmental issues in China.   REPORT    REVISED SYLLABUS


Bob Bunger (Department of Anthropology, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences):


I am applying for an Asian studies grant to enhance ANTH 3009, The Motherhood of God in Eastern Traditions. ... It is a survey of the goddess concept in Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism seeing the similarities and differences in how goddesses are attributed in the three faiths. ... I have visited goddess temples and attended worship in Buddhist temples in New York and Maryland and a Taoist temple in San Francisco. [I]t is my intention to make a visit of approximately ten days to Taipei Taiwan in 2007 to visit temples dedicated to the Buddhist goddess Kwan Yin and the Taoist goddess Matsu (Tin Hau) to experience their worship first hand in a completely Chinese cultural setting and to gather notes, pictures and artifacts. REPORT   PHOTOS    REVISED SYLLABUS


Stephen Harper (Department of Geology, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences):


My Asian studies development project will incorporate specific case studies from Asian countries in my section of Geology 1700 – Environmental Geology (Enrollment = 90 students/semester).  These case studies will focus on both Geo-Hazards, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis as well as degradation of geologic components of the environment in Asian countries. [...] Travel to Asia for a 3 to 4 week period would enhance my case study project because it would allow me to use photos taken from Asian countries in my class discussion of the selected case studies to enhance student interest.  Secondly, travel to Asia would allow me to interview geologists in government agencies within some of the countries.  I already have contacts in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.  I would like to expand my list to Vietnam, Laos, and Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces of China.  Thirdly, personal travel to the sites in which the case studies are located will enhance my ability to discuss the relevance of the case studies to undergraduate students at East Carolina University. REPORT   REVISED SYLLABUS


Punam Madhok (School of Art, College of Fine Arts and Communications): 


My course in Asian Art (ART 3920, 6913) presently consists of two large sections on Indian Art and Chinese Painting and two small sections on South-East Asian Art and Japanese Art.  In my course evaluations, students have repeatedly mentioned that they enjoyed the section on Japanese Art the most and would like to learn more about it.  I too am very interested in developing the section on Japanese Art in my Asian Art course. [...] It is my aim to focus on the art of China and Japan in my Asian Art course, since I concentrate on the art of India and South-East Asia in my course, Art of India (ART 4916, 6916). A study tour to the art sites of Kyoto and Tokyo as well as Nara, Osaka, and Kamakura in Japan will undoubtedly strengthen my understanding of Japanese art and enable me to enhance my course in Asian Art.