Strengthening Global Humanities at Virginia’s Community Colleges: An NEH Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges Project: June 2013-May 2015

Project Director: Dr. Rachel Stauffer, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

A cooperative agreement for a two-year faculty and curriculum development project on the religions and cultures of Asia (which is defined broadly) for thirty-six faculty and academic administrators from five Virginia community colleges. The University of Virginia’s Asia Institute received support for a project to guide community colleges as they incorporate new content on East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Russia into their curricula. In the first year, participants recruited from Southwest Virginia Community College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, and Virginia Western Community College focus on the ancient heritages of Japan, China, India, the Middle East, and Russia, with emphasis on literature, traditional arts, and religion. In the second year, they study the modern societies that have developed in those regions through literature and cinema, with attention paid to interactions with and perceptions of the West. A symposium each year introduces participants to the topics through common readings, discussion, and lectures from UVa scholars. In addition, participants choose a geographic or thematic area on which to focus, tailored to the specific needs of their institutions. Between symposia, participants work with each other and with UVa scholars using discussion forums, video conferencing, and site visits as they develop and implement new curricular materials. The Asia Institute draws on the expertise of project director Rachel Stauffer, as well as University of Virginia faculty members Daniel Ehnbom (Art History, South Asia), Paul Groner (Religious Studies, East Asia), Gustav Heldt (East Asian Literature), Haruko Yuda (Japan outreach coordinator), Karen Lang (Religious Studies, South Asia), Robert Hueckstedt (South Asian languages), Richard Cohen (South Asian literature), Ahmad Obiedat (Arabic literature), Edith Clowes (Russian literature), John Nemec (Religious Studies, South Asia), Michiko Wilson (Japanese literature), Allison Alexy (Anthropology, East Asia), Charles Laughlin (Chinese literature), Mehr Farooqi (Urdu literature), Farzaneh Milani (Middle Eastern literature and culture), Reginald Jackson (University of Chicago, East Asian Studies), and Matthew Marshall (Hollins University, Film Studies). Readings include such classic texts as The Dream of the Red Chamber, Doctor Zhivago, and The Tale of Genji, as well as secondary works by scholars including Jonathan Spence, Diana Eck, Leila Ahmed, and several of the presenting scholars. Participants also view and discuss several documentaries and feature films, including Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Monsoon Wedding, Rashomon, Battleship Potemkin, and The Vanished Empire.

Community college faculty (full-time or part-time) at any of the five community colleges listed above are invited to participate, and may contact Dr. Stauffer directly (staufferr@virginia.edu) if unable to find information at their institutions.