We are delighted to announce the enthusiastic and unanimous decision of the board of directors of the Association for Asian Studies to create the Wm. Theodore de Bary and Ainslie T. Embree Fund for Education and Outreach. The fund will support the preparation and dissemination of AAS publications to make knowledge about Asia widely available for general education courses. The fund is named in honor of two past presidents of the Association for Asian Studies who were early champions of the integration of Asian studies into the core curriculum. The fund will strengthen the association’s commitment to educational goals through such publications as Education About Asia and Key Issues in Asian Studies.
Wm. Theodore de Bary, a scholar of East Asia, and Ainslie T. Embree, a scholar of South Asia, began early in their careers to champion efforts to include the study of Asian civilizations as an assumed part of every undergraduate student’s liberal arts education. Understanding that many people provide large numbers of students with education about Asia and that no “Asian specialist” is a specialist on all of Asia, Professors de Bary and Embree have devoted much of their careers to helping their colleagues gain understanding and resources to enrich their teaching.
Long before there were Asian studies specialists or Asian studies programs at many colleges and universities, Professors de Bary and Embree hosted national conferences that drew together prominent academics in all fields of the Western humanities to consider “Approaches to the Oriental Classics” and “Approaches to Asian Civilizations” that resulted in edited volumes on these topics in 1958 and 1961, respectively.
These pioneering scholars believed that merely including the canon of Asian civilizations in required Western humanities courses shortchanged both Asia and the West, so they created two archetypal courses in Asian humanities and Asian civilizations to parallel two courses on the Western traditions that were required of all Columbia undergraduates.
Publications to support courses such as these throughout the US introduce undergraduates to Asian texts in translation quickly followed. Titles of these pedagogical works include Guide to the Oriental Classics and multiple volumes of the Sources of Asian Traditions most of which are available in first or second editions and are used in classrooms throughout the country. The classic series on Chinese, Indian, and Japanese traditions now include volumes on Sources of Korean Tradition and, most recently, Sources of Vietnamese Tradition (forthcoming April 2012), as well as an abridged two-volume set, Sources of East Asian Tradition (2008), edited by Professor de Bary.
Wm. Theodore de Bary is John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus and Provost Emeritus of Columbia University. He is a former chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and director of the National Defense Language and Area Center. De Bary has helped found numerous organizations and programs at Columbia, including the Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Society of the Humanities, the University Lectures, Trilling Seminars, University Seminars in Neo-Confucian Studies and Asian Thought and Religion, and the Legacy Series for the 250th anniversary of the founding of the university. The honors he has received from Columbia University include the Great Teacher Award, the John Jay Award, Lionel Trilling Book Award, Award for Excellence, and the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement.
In 1974, de Bary was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1999 to the American Philosophical Association. He has served on the editorial board for The American Scholar and as director of the American Council for Learned Studies. He served as AAS president from 1969 to 1970. De Bary has lectured at universities and colleges around the world, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong, College de France, Harvard University, and the University of California, Berkeley. He holds honorary degrees from St. Lawrence University, Loyola University of Chicago, and Columbia University. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Order of the Rising Sun, a two-time recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Medal, and an Honorary Member of the Japan Academy. He is the author or editor of over thirty books, including East Asian Civilizations (1987), Confucianism and Human Rights (1997), Asian Values and Human Rights (1998), Nobility and Civility: Asian Ideals of Leadership and the Common Good (2004), Confucian Tradition and Global Education (2007), and Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics (2011). Professor de Bary also published an article entitled “Asia in the Core Curriculum” in the inaugural spring 1996 issue of Education About Asia.
Ainslie T. Embree is Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University. Professor Embree also served as Acting Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia and as chair of the Departments of History and of Middle East Languages and Cultures, as well as director of the Southern Asian Institute. He taught history at Indore Christian College in India from 1948 to 1958, after which he returned to the US to teach at Columbia; from 1969 to 1972, Professor Embree also taught at Duke University. He served as AAS president from 1982 to 1983. At Columbia, he helped develop a broad- based study program on Asia and integrated Indian and Asian studies into the Columbia College Core Curriculum; in 1995, he was the second winner of the Columbia University Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum Award.
After his retirement from Columbia University in 1991, he continued to teach at Columbia, Brown University, and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In 1985, he received Columbia University’s Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching. In 2009, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Columbia University.
Professor Embree was the counselor for cultural affairs at the American Embassy, New Delhi, from 1978 to 1980 and a consultant to the American ambassador in India, Frank Wisner, from 1994 to 1995. In 1998, Embree was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Through his participation in the Council for Foreign Relations and the Kashmir Study Group, he made significant contributions to the attempts for peace between India and Pakistan. He has also served as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies, chairman of the Joint Committee on South Asia of the American Council of Learned Societies, and director of the American Oriental Society.
Embree was Editor-in-Chief of the four-volume Encyclopedia of Asian Studies (1989). He is the author or editor of numerous other works including Sources of Indian Tradition (1958), India’s Search for National Identity (1988), Imagining India: Essays on Indian History (1989), Utopias in Conflict: Religion and Nationalism in India (1990), Asia in Western and World History (1997), and India’s World and U.S. Scholars: 1947–1997 (1998). He is also an associate editor of Education About Asia and published the EAA article “Top Ten Things to Know About India in the Twenty-First Century” in the winter 2005 issue.
Donors may make a secure online donation to the new fund on the AAS website https://www.asianstudies.org/about/donate.htm#form, or mail a check made out to AAS, indicating that the gift is for the de Bary-Embree Fund to AAS, Attn. CFO, 825 Victors Way, Suite 310, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.