This is our sixth consecutive interview with the winners 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 2002 winners were Evelyn Rawski, a Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, and Katheryn Linduff, a Professor of History and Art at the University of Pittsburgh. Rawski and Linduff, along with colleagues, developed Contemporary Chinese Societies: Continuity and Change, an introductory-level CD ROM on contemporary China.
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Lucien: Congratulations on your well-deserved prize. What influenced you to spend considerable time on developing curriculum materials?
Rawski and Linduff: Working on the teaching module provided a wonderful learning experience in how to create a multimedia educational packet. The Asian Studies Faculty as a group was interested in this project, so it was a very good one for us to develop together. This allowed for input from many experts, for fruitful discussion, and for a division of the work to many.
Lucien: I just finished spending some time with “Contemporary Chinese Societies” and both of you and your colleagues certainly did a fine job. Could you please inform our readers how this specific project was conceived and about its development.
Rawski and Linduff: In the early 1990s, when the China faculty developed the teaching module, courses in art history were being put online and that led us to what became the CD. We discussed developing a course that would introduce contemporary China to our undergraduates and decided that writing our own text was a starting point. The emergence of the multimedia CD came about when we realized that in electronic form we could reach more students (and others) and in a format that was emerging as a very effective teaching device.
Lucien: It seems to me that one of the strongest points about the CD is its potential applicability for teachers and students at various levels. I am curious if either of you have used it with your students, and if so, in what ways? Have you heard any reports of secondary school teachers using the CD?
Rawski and Linduff: Several college instructors have used the CD in their courses; their experiences were the focus of a panel at the Mid-Atlantic Regional AAS in 2001. We have also been reviewed in your publication Education About Asia.
Lucien: I found many of the photos in the CD particularly striking. What photo selection procedures did you use to achieve such impressive results?
Rawski and Linduff: Because of the strict copyright regulations on use of visual resources, the China faculty donated images from their personal collections. In addition, we hired a graduate student to travel to Taiwan and China to take photographs for us. The images on the CD were selected out of a much larger number that was available. The music also had to be made available to us free of copyright, which was made possible by composers in Hong Kong.
Lucien: There is certainly room for the development of similar high quality educational CDs in Asian studies. What kinds of specific advice can you share with readers considering a similar curriculum project?
Rawski and Linduff: Our advice would be to talk to someone with experience in producing educational CDs. The collection of maps, photographic images, audio materials, and other supplements to the text can be undertaken simultaneously, even as faculty write the text. The production of a CD can be speeded up in this way. The technology is changing fast; make sure to examine all the possibilities while remembering where the most advanced systems can be used. We wanted our CD to be used in most college and University settings. Finally, look carefully for a specialist who can produce the actual product; make sure you examine a sample of completed work before signing a contract.
Lucien: Thank you very much for your time.
Editor’s Note: Readers interested in a review of the CD should consult the fall 2001 issue of EAA (Volume 6, Number 2).