Asian Studies conference draws 120 participants

PULLMAN –  The 2006 Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast Conference (ASPAC) began Friday, June 16, on the campus of Washington State University.

This regional conference of the national organization, which will continue through June 18, has attracted approximately 120 participants from 34 academic institutions including seven international universities. Eight colleges and universities in Washington are represented.

“Asian Studies is a very important component of colleges and universities world-wide as we become more aware every day of our shrinking world and our interdependence,” said Erich Lear, dean, College of Liberal Arts, in his letter of welcome to conference attendees. “You and the work you do together and separately in your own institutions, very likely will impact future generations in new ways,” he said.

According to David Pietz, assistant professor of history and director of Asia Program at WSU, academics are attracted to a conference such as this because it provides an opportunity to present their work in a public forum to members of the academy who share the interest in Asia Studies.

Carmen Burch, cultural anthropologist and associate professor of conservation science, College of Santa Fe agrees. “It’s so wonderful,” said Burch, “to be in a place where there is an intense interest in Asia. Often when we go off to do our faculty work we are isolated.”

Noriko Kawamura, associate professor of history at WSU, believes there is special significance in hosting the regional conference. “By bringing regional conferences such as this to WSU many of the smaller Asia Programs are energized.” Kawamura also believes the reputation of WSU’s Asia Program is strengthened by the conference because leading scholars witness the passion and depth of WSU’s Asia-related research.

According to Pietz, another benefit of hosting the conference is that WSU graduate students who do work with an Asia focus are able to attend and rub shoulders with some of the leading experts of Asia Studies. Eight WSU graduate students from Asia program, history, political science and American studies are presenting papers at the conference.

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