For twenty-seven years the Asian Studies Program has been the nexus of Asia-focused research and study at the University at Buffalo. Our program opened in 1993 and by 1994 our long-running Asia at Noon Friday lecture series was established. Our Asian Studies newsletter was first published in 1995 and continues to be published today. Our curriculum was formalized in 1999 and our major established in 2003. Our first BA in Asian Studies was awarded in 2004.
Professor Thomas Burkman became the Asian Studies Program director in 1994 and began a busy 13 years of program leadership. The Asian Studies Program successfully competed for $450,000 from 1995-2000, including federal Title VI grants and private funding from the Japan Foundation among others. These funds hired Asia-focused faculty in several departments, including Communication, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. These funds also hired lecturers in Asian culture, language, and history topics and provided funding for UB faculty to develop new Asia-related courses. “Asian Studies in the Arts”, our second Title VI award, supported new faculty, visiting artists, and campus events. UB’s College of Arts and Sciences formed in 1998 and our program became a unit in the college. Several Asianist faculty joined UB from 1998 to 2000, in Geography and Art History.
UB hosted several Asia-themed conferences during the first years of the Asian Studies Program, starting our program’s tradition of cosponsoring Asia-related workshops, symposia, and conferences at UB. Some of these include:
Many new Asia-focused faculty joined UB from 2001 to 2005 in Linguistics, English, Art History, History, Anthropology, Communication, Law, Women’s Studies, and Education. Awards from the Korea Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Northeast Asia Council of the Association supported arts events and lectures on our campus. Nila T. Gnamm made a bequest of $250,000 to the APEC Studies Center in 2001.
The Asian Studies Program hosted or cohosted several conferences on and off campus during this period. Some of these include:
The Asian Studies Program continued to support Asia-related events on campus and fostered the development and hiring of Asianist scholars. New Asia-focused faculty joined UB in Sociology, American Studies, and History. We hosted a Fulbright Scholar in 2006 and visiting scholars in 2008. In 2009, our program received permission to establish a Confucius Institute at UB. New AS courses were developed, expanding our program’s offerings. In 2008, our graduating seniors presented their senior thesis projects in a public colloquium for the first time. This colloquium event is now held every fall and spring semester in which we have graduating seniors. In 2007, Prof. Thomas Burkman retired as Program Director to become our Director of Undergraduate Studies. Prof. Kristin Stapleton became our new Program Director.
The Dalai Lama visited in 2006. To prepare the UB community for his visit, the Asian Studies Program developed a course funded by the President’s Office titled “Tibet: Myth and Reality.” The course brought in North America’s leading scholars on Tibet. Other funding, from the National Committee on U.S.-China relations and the Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language program, supported South Asian language (Hindi) instruction and events and program development, including visiting lecturers, film screenings, and artistic presentations.
The Asian Studies Program hosted or cohosted several conferences on and off campus from 2006-2010. Some of these include:
Professor Kristin Stapleton stepped down as Director in 2013, and Prof. EunHee Lee became the Acting Director in 2013 and the Director in 2014. New faculty focused on research in Asia join UB’s School of Architecture, History, and English Departments and our program hosted Fulbright scholars from India. In 2013, our program was awarded the NEH Summer Institute Grant for K-12 Teachers ($171,000) for “China and India: Comparisons and Connections.” Other cosponsored and hosted events include:
The Asian Studies Program continues to actively seek opportunities to grow and support Asia-related research, teaching, and activities on campus. We hope you have a look at our annual newsletters to learn about our recent activities and expanding program, led by Prof. Mark Nathan as Program Director since Spring 2020. We invite you to join us to create a strong online network of professionals, students, community members, and scholars linked by our shared interest in the study of Asia, centered on our program here at UB