Education About Asia: Online Archives

Asia Society’s Asian Educational Resource Center (AERC)

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The growing recognition of Asia’s rich and dynamic history, its importance in global affairs, and the significance of the Asian American population have prompted many educators to strive to improve the study of Asia in the K- 12 curriculum. But, with thirty-three countries— including the central Asian republics, Australia, and New Zealand—accounting for over 3.3 billion people, this is not an easy task. At the very least, teachers and schools need up-to-date curricular resources, specialized training, accurate information, and materials. This is particularly true at the elementary and secondary levels, where teachers lack time or training in Asian studies and have little or no access to quality Asia-related programs and materials.

Just as the pressing need for these resources is being recognized universally, schools throughout the U. S. are facing fiscal constraints that limit their development. This combination of increased demand and decreasing funds would be disastrous were it not for the growing network of resource providers, including the Association for Asian Studies, the National Council for the Social Studies, university-based outreach centers, museums, and other nonprofit institutions like the Asia Society, that are working individually and collaboratively to improve understanding of Asia at the K-12 level and beyond. Contributing to this vital effort remains the topmost priority of the Asia Society.

photo of two young children on the computer
Students demonstrate educational software at a public conference sponsored by the Asia Society’s Educational Resource Center (AERC). Photo courtesy: Elsa Ruiz.

Since its founding in 1956, the central mission of the Asia Society has been to improve American understanding of Asia and to foster communication between Asians and Americans. Because its mandate is pan-Asian and multidisciplinary, the Society’s work encompasses all regions of Asia as well as all aspects of Asian life and U. S.-Asia relations. This comprehensive focus allows the Society to function as a “network of networks,” providing common ground for exchanges across national, cultural, and academic boundaries. In addition to its ongoing arts and public affairs presentations, the Asia Society is working to design and deliver K-12 programs that make high-impact, cost-effective use of available resources. The primary vehicle for this effort is AERC. For maximum impact, AERC concentrates its activities in three clearly defined areas: information dissemination, curriculum development, and staff development. These translate into the three closely coordinated components: AskAsia, the information clearinghouse of AERC, with its own K-12 Web site (; AsiaInteractive, specializing in the development of multimedia materials that fill curricular gaps; and TeachAsia, a staff development program for K-12 teachers.


AskAsia was conceived as a means through which to disseminate timely information about the variety of resources on Asia to the widest possible audience. In collaboration with AERC’s institutional partners—which include the Center for Educational Media, the ERIC Clearinghouse, and the National Association of Japan-America Societies—the AskAsia Web site helps the K-12 education community share news, access support, and keep current on what’s available. Thanks to the latest technology, the Web site provides easy connections through clickable icons to other information sources and allows for frequent updating. Schools that are not yet connected to the Internet can access AskAsia’s rich offerings of classroom-ready resources through toll-free telephone (1-888-ASK-ASIA) and fax (1-888-FAX-ASIA) services.

AskAsia has generated more than 75,000 hits per month. Moreover, this popular site was recently expanded and enhanced, with clearer icons, a cleaner design, more crossreferenced hyperlinks, a communication center for educators, and a new area featuring activities and information especially appealing to young people.


AsiaInteractive develops learner-centered, teacher-friendly materials that are targeted to fill gaps in today’s K-12 curriculum.