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Creation of a Full Lower Division in East Asian History!

by Doug Stiffler


Since coming to Juniata in the Fall of 2002, I have taught courses in the histories of China, Japan, and the World.  Professors Sowell, Hsiung, and the Tutens worked with the college to create this new position in the History department so as to expand History department offerings considerably beyond European and American histories.  Experience over the last decade has shown that our 21st-century Juniata students are quite interested in learning about China and Japan. 

Students are aware of the economic & political power of a rising China, and so some enroll in these courses to learn more about “what makes China tick.”  From a completely different perspective, many students have been exposed to Japanese anime and other aspects of Japanese popular culture while growing up, and so are interested in learning more about Japan.

The college, indeed, has seen quite dramatic changes in our contacts with China.  From one mainland Chinese student on an exchange here when Jingxia and I arrived at Juniata in the Fall of 2002, Juniata now enrolls more than 40 degree-seeking Chinese students from the mainland.  Also, starting a year and a half ago, some 15-20 Juniata students have been going to China for two weeks in May.  This trip, to be run by yours truly together with Wang Wei-Chung of the ABE department, is a Cultural Analysis course called “China Today,” and will meet weekly throughout the Spring Semester.    Five Juniata students were studying abroad on the BCA program in Dalian, China this fall, and enrollment in Yang laoshi’s (“Teacher Yang’s”) first and second year Chinese-language classes has remained strong.

In short, then, the time seems right to add to our offerings in East Asian History.  Starting next year, I will offer a 100-level sequence:  HS106 China & Japan to 1800 every fall and HS107 China & Japan since 1800 every spring.  These replace the previous structure, which consisted of a 200-level China & Japan since 1800 and then a “split” of the course into a 300-level Modern China and Modern Japan, the latter of which was offered only every other year.  Much of the content of the former Modern Japan course (Meiji modernization, Japanese Empire, and World War II) will now be part of HS107 China & Japan since 1800.  Students will be advised to take one of these 100-level courses before proceeding to my new 300-level course on the People’s Republic of China, which has been submitted as a revamped College Writing course.