Education About Asia: Online Archives

An Interview with Buchanan Prize Winner Roberta Martin

Download PDF

This is our forth consecutive interview with the winner of the Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. The Association for Asian Studies awards the prize annually for the development of outstanding curriculum materials on Asia. The 2000 winner was Roberta “Robin” Martin, Director of the East Asian Curriculum Project and Project on Asia in the Core Curriculum at Columbia University’s East Asian Institute. She won the award for her Web-based version of Contemporary Japan: A Teaching Workbook.

Lucien: Congratulations on winning the Buchanan Prize.

Robin: Thank you, Lucien. I am delighted that the Japan Workbook in its Web incarnation has been honored with the Buchanan Prize. I am just the figurehead here, however, the orchestra leader. The Japan Workbook is the work of many musicians: advanced graduate students in Asian srudies, many of whom now are now teaching throughout the country, classroom teachers who are committed to Asia, and prominent Asian specialists. Two of the previous Buchanan Prize recipientss-the SPICE units developed under the direction of Gary Mukai, and the Humanities Approach to Japanese History units, developed under the direction of Lynn Parisi-are products of similar initiatives thatinvolve many Asian specialists. So trus partnership of Asian specialist-educators from several educational levels is really a winning combination. I believe it was the intent of the committee that established the Buchanan Prize, its chair, Peter Frost, and the AAS Board, to underscore how important it is for us all to contribute high quality materials for the classroom. I hope that the Buchanan Prize will continue to inspire others to publish teaching material.

I hope, too, that the Buchanan Prize will continue to encourage foundations to fund the publication of teaching materials. There is certainly no commercial support for the publication of quality leaching material on Asia. Foundation funding was crucial in the three instances I mentioned above. In our case, it was the U.S.-Japan Foundation (USJF) that funded both the first substantial publication of the Japan Workbook in print and its complete revision and adaptation to electronic format.