about our project

Thinking through Cultural Diversity: Bridging Cultural Differences in Asian Traditions is a three-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This project will involve fifteen community colleges organized in five geographic clusters, and will place different understandings of culture and plurality in dialogue with the aim of deepening engagement with issues of cultural interaction, civility, and diversity in a global context. With a focus on China and Southeast Asia, the project will explore how the arts, literature, knowledge systems, religious traditions and trade serve as cultural bridges; how different conceptions of personhood and community afford distinctive resources for engaging issues of cultural plurality; and how Asian perspectives on cultural difference might complement those that are prevalent in American undergraduate classrooms. Participants in the project will work collaboratively to develop curricula and research related to Asian cultures and societies and the project theme of cultural diversity.

Project Activities. The project is organized around a progressive series of activities that integrates faculty, curriculum and institutional development; that stimulates and supports relevant research; and that encourages increased public outreach on project themes. These activities will include:

  • a 7-day summer symposium hosted at the East-West Center, Honolulu from July 13-20, 2012 that will introduce intellectual resources for engaging project themes and introduce relevant Asian cultural traditions;
  • a distinguished lecturer visit at each community college cluster in Fall 2012;
  • two mentoring visits to each cluster (1 day each) by Asian studies scholars in Spring or Fall 2013;
  • a 3-day faculty and curriculum development workshop at each cluster to be hosted in 2013/2014;
  • an online conference hosted in the first half of 2014 that will feature project-related research;
  • and a culminating, lessons-learned conference hosted on the US mainland in late summer or fall 2014 with one representative attending from each of the 15 participating schools.

In addition, it is hoped that each participating campus team will work with others to develop activities that will encourage faculty, students and the community to engage the NEH theme of Bridging Cultures and the ASDP focus on enhancing undergraduate Asian Studies. These activities might include Asian film showings, “world cafes” or “Socratic symposia,” art exhibits and performances, and literary events. 

Project Outcomes. All participating faculty will develop courses modules or full course syllabi that incorporate project themes. Faculty may also write articles on project themes for the research-related conference or for publication elsewhere. It is hoped that the workshops, mentoring visits and distinguished lecture series will bring other faculty actively into the project on each of the campuses. The on-line research conference will be open to all interested faculty at the 15 participating colleges, and selected papers will be submitted for publication in the Asian Studies Development Series at the State University of New York Press. Course modules, syllabi, bibliographies, presentations, and resource links that result from the project will be made available through a project web-site.

Here is the MCC/Bristol/Quinsigamond cohort presentaion that highlights our commitment and deliverables to the grant:

Bridging Cultures Presentation 2012 – Final


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