The Asian Studies Development Program is a quite successful project that focuses upon improving undergraduate-level teaching about Asia.
ASDP is particularly useful for college faculty who aren’t Asia specialists and would like to develop Asia-related expertise. In what follows I interview ASDP’s outstanding codirectors, Roger Ames and Betty Buck.
Lucien: How did both of you become interested in Asia? What Asia-related academic work did you do, and what positions did you hold before becoming associated with the East-West Center, the Asian Studies Development Program, and the University of Hawaii?
ROGER AMES: I grew up in Canada and as an undergraduate, spent time in Hong Kong. I then went on to my graduate degrees in Chinese philosophy, going to school in both Taiwan and Japan, and graduating from the University of London. Since then, I have been in the U-H Philosophy Department, one of the few universities in the world with a strong comparative philosophy program. What was exotic and “other” in those years has moved to center stage today. In fact, some of my translations of Chinese philosophic texts are actually required readings in many U.S. schools of business.
BETTY BUCK: I started years ago at the East-West Center doing research in development communication and cultural studies. I’m not an Asianist, but just being at the Center is a learning experience about Asia. I did my Ph.D. in political science at U-H, on the politics of culture in Hawaii. In 1990, when I was asked to help establish and then later to co-direct the Asian Studies Development Program, I became even more deeply involved in the field of Asian studies.