Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

East Asia and the National Geography Standards

By Ronald G. Knapp Many questions are asked by teachers, including veterans with years of classroom experience, as they approach new subject matter and unfamiliar academic disciplines: What resources are available for me as I develop unit and lesson plans? What materials are available for my students? What teaching strategies are most effective in helping students learn? Are there national or state standards that provide a guide, and how can I align my teaching to them? New and experienced teac...

Feature Article

Creating an Instant City Image: Landmark Buildings and Urban Development in Shanghai and Dubai

During the past fifteen years, the architectural skylines of Asian cities like Shanghai, China, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) have demonstrated some unique features of urban transformation. With their skylines quickly transformed, and boasting some of the world’s tallest buildings and most expensive construction projects, both cities have heralded an ambitious aspiration to build unique global icons through the development of massive business centers, high-income residences, luxury hot...

Feature Article

Making the Most of Geographic Disadvantage: Modernizing Bhutan

Known to its inhabitants as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” for the sound of its ferocious storms, Bhutan is probably best known to outsiders as the land of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH), an unusual development measure proposed by the king in 1972. The core value of “collective happiness” comes from the traditional emphasis on community wellbeing, extended into the process of modernization as development without harming the environment or relationships. Policy rests on the four p...

Feature Article

An Interview with Frank Upham

In reaction to Japan’s militarist era, their American-influenced 1947 constitution stressed the limited role of the emperor, the separation of church and state, parliamentary democracy, individual rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Law was based on the so-called Six Codes (the 1947 constitution, the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Commercial Code). Criminal cases were handled in a European court system model, where...

Feature Article

Mandalas, Grids, and Volcanic Eruptions: Notes on the Persistence of Old Geographies in Modern Central Java

[caption id="attachment_15929" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Photo of Gunung Merapi from the website of Richard Seaman at overlaid image of the Borobudur mandala floorplan, which is also shown on page 23 of this publication.[/caption] By Charles Sullivan As I awoke on the morning of October 26, 2010, I heard the words “volcano” and “Indonesia” come across the radio. I was instantly awake. Initially, the n...

Teaching Resources Essay

Thinking Geographically about Asia: Online Case Studies and Collaborative Projects for High School and Undergraduate Students

By Michael Solem and Waverly C. Ray Improving Geographical Understanding of Asia: A Crucial Educational Challenge America’s future in virtually every sense is tied inextricably to Asia’s. As a continent with subregions encompassing a stunning array of industrial activities, technological innovations, economic inequities, political systems, and environmental habitats, Asia provides a seemingly endless supply of opportunity, worry, mystery, and possibility. Also, Asia is a source of enormous...

Feature Article

The Analects in the Classroom: Book Four as a First Step

By Sarah Schneewind The Confucian Analects can be as difficult to teach as it is necessary for teaching East Asia or world religion. How does one both set it in historical context and lead high school and college students to think through its message? Following the lead of philologists Brooks and Brooks, who argue that part of Book Four is the oldest part of a text compiled over several centuries; and of Edward Slingerland, who delineates the way Confucius was remaking old social concepts; an...

Feature Article

Democracy in Japan: Why Should Americans Care?

By George R. Packard Many Americans today view Japan through partial or misleading images: World War II; group culture; conformity; homogeneity; economic stagnation; and for younger people, manga and anime, and now, sadly, the images of earthquakes and tsunami disasters. Seldom do we consider that Japan has managed its own kind of vibrant democratic government ever since it achieved independence in 1952. When we think about Japanese democracy at all, we tend to see it as a kind of gift from A...

Feature Article

Democratic Trends in Meiji Japan

By Daniel A. Métraux When the victorious United States and its allies occupied Japan between 1945 and 1952, they imposed a new democratic constitution on the Japanese that placed popular sovereignty in the hands of the Japanese people. This was not the first time, however, that the Japanese had encountered such concepts as democracy, representative government, or the fundamental equality of all citizens. During the Meiji era (1868–1912), Japan was exposed to many Western ideas concerning d...

Feature Article

The Rise of Eastern China: From Hoe Culture to Factory Culture

Understanding China’s New Geographies By Robert W. McColl In the past twenty-five years, China has dramatically moved from a rural, agrarian economy and culture to become more urban and a major world economic and political force. In the process, key economic core areas have moved south and eastward, especially to the coast. Historically, China was a country of small-scale intensive farmers (a “hoe culture”), divided by the physical limits of climate, hydrology, topography, distances, an...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Using Novels to Teach the Cultural Geographies of South Asia

I have taught the geographies of Asia for ten years—first as a significant part of World Regional Geography and now, for the past four years, as a semester-long course on its own. While I have found traditional materials like textbooks and articles useful for introducing students to the physical environment, political systems, and economic realities of the region, teaching about cultures is often a more difficult proposition. Cultures are complicated. Following the explosive growth ...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Teaching the Geographies of Asia

Asia URL: One can keep busy for days simply exploring the links on this site. For the most part, these are links to PowerPoint presentations by teachers. Some presentations are more detailed than others. The links are grouped by geographic region in Asia: Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, etc., and by Asian country. HowStuffWorks: Geography of Asia URL: The Discovery Company p...

Book Review, Resources

Sun Yatsen: Seeking a Newer China

BY DAVID B. GORDON NEW YORK: PRENTICE HALL, 2010 192 PAGES ISBN: 978-0321333063, PAPERBACK Reviewed by David Kenley This eminently readable biography of Sun Yatsen offers high school and undergraduate students a window into the life of the “father of modern China.” Though Sun is frequently overshadowed by his more politically savvy successors, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, he is an excellent choice for the Library of World Biography series. More so than either Chiang or Mao, Sun epito...

Film Review, Resources

Can’t Go Native?

PRODUCED, DESIGNED, AND EDITED BY DAVID W. PLATH MEDIA PRODUCTION GROUP ASIAN EDUCATIONAL MEDIA SERVICE DVD, 56 MINUTES, 2010 Reviewed by David Huebner Can’t Go Native? is the intriguing and very personalized account of American anthropologist Keith Brown’s long relationship with the Japanese people. As a graduate student in 1961, Brown visited Japan for doctoral research. He fell in love with Japan and her peoples, culture, and customs. Brown’s numerous trips to Japan are chronicle...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching the Geography of India through Virtual Itineraries

By Thomas Frederick Howard Like other teachers, I have grown disillusioned with the drawbacks of the undergraduate research paper. The rising tide of plagiarism and the easy availability of papers for sale on the Internet have made vigilance necessary, wearying, and demoralizing. In my Geography and History of South Asia course, I now ask students to create an itinerary for a three-week trip in India instead of a traditional paper. This highly individualized project may engage students more t...

Feature Article

Political Parties in Democratic Japan

By Alisa Gaunder Whether fairly or not, Japanese political institutions in the postwar period have always been examined with some suspicion by outside observers, especially in the West. Some claim the fact that these institutions were imposed by the US Occupation calls into question their legitimacy or effectiveness. However, those who make such arguments have a limited view of Japan’s history and of how the institutions of democracy have functioned in the postwar period. Japan’s experien...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan

BY GEORGE R. PACKARD NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 368 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231143547, HARDBACK Reviewed by Robert Fish Is there a social studies teacher who has never been asked, “Why does studying history matter?” Edwin O. Reischauer’s career illustrates the direct impact history and “academic” ideas can have on contemporary life. George R. Packard’s Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan guides the reader through the relationship between abstract ...

Feature Article

Entry into China and Market Intelligence: Machine Tool Exporters as a Case Study in Human Geography

By Dawn M. Drake and Ronald Kalafsky This article presents the case study method as a pedagogical tool to study the geography and economics of Asia in middle school and high school classrooms, as well as in undergraduate courses, using the case of United States machine tool manufacturers in China. The case study method is generally associated with undergraduate and graduate business courses, although it is utilized in many disciplines and increasingly at various education levels. Case studies...

Book Review, Resources

Korean Spirituality

BY DON BAKER UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I PRESS, 2008 151 PAGES ISBN: 978-0-8248-3257-5, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Mary E. Connor Korean Spirituality by Don Baker, a professor at the University of British Columbia, is an accessible and engaging guidebook to the distinctive religious and philosophical belief systems on the Korean peninsula. Its value is manifold. Because Korea has one of the most vibrant and diverse religious cultures of any nation in the world, lucid exposure to its beliefs and practi...

Book Review, Resources

China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know

BY JEFFREY N. WASSERSTROM OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 155 PAGES ISBN: 978-0-19-539412-2, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Mary Cingcade Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s book China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know tempts the reader with its intriguing title. Written in question-and-answer format, the volume features 108 questions culled from questions posed over two decades by lecture audiences. Wasserstrom writes, The goal of this book is to help normalize discussions of China . . . My aim ...