Asian influence bringing new courses to campus

In the post 9/11 world, members of the academic arena have become increasingly fascinated with Eastern domestic and foreign policy. Global issues in the Middle East and Asia have become key components of political science and international relations programs in many American universities.
According to, UM ranks as the ninth most diverse school in the nation. This includes an Asian population of five percent. Browse through the course offerings on the EASY system, however, and noticeably lacking are Asian culture and language classes.
Dr. James Wyche, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences [A&S], believes it is crucial to be abreast of U.S.-Eastern relations and the influence of Asian and Middle Eastern countries on American culture.
According to Wyche, an Asian Studies program is under development; he would like to raise funds for an Asian and Middle East Studies program proposal and program institution possibly by the 2006-2007 school year. Wyche indicated that the program would incorporate a combined Asian and Asian American Studies perspective, retaining an overall global outlook.
With growing ties to our Eastern half, Wyche said there has been a “re-prioritization of goals,” and that UM looks forward to serving its diverse student population.
The Asian American Students Association [AASA] expressed similar interest for an Asian Studies program last year. AASA publicist Cindi Wong said many schools, including the University of Florida, Florida International University and Stanford University, have developed programs that cater to the Asian interests of the student population.
“It’s important to make the program more inclusive rather than exclusive,” Lydia Barza, administrator of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, said. The extent of a combined Asian Studies and Asian American Studies program would depend on the expertise of the faculty with regard to such issues as immigrant experiences or a country’s relationship to another area.
Alongside this program, the shortcomings of the linguistic department are being recognized and addressed. Currently, UM offers majors in French, German and Spanish under its foreign language department, with minors in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
Elementary and intermediate courses are offered in Arabic, Japanese, Hebrew and Latin.
Many feel that UM should extend its offerings of foreign languages to include Eastern and Euro-Asian languages such as Chinese, Korean, Hindi and Russian.
Indian Students Association [ISA] Treasurer Bhargava Kondaveeti said that for several years, the UM-ISA has been trying to introduce Hindi language classes and courses in Hinduism. ISA has recorded approximately 100 names in a petition to initiate such courses and is working on a bill to present to Student Government.
“I have contacted several professors of Hinduism across the nation, including professors from Carthage University, the University of San Diego and Washington and Lee University,” Kondaveeti said. “They have expressed great interest in helping us inaugurate Hindi and Hinduism. We have waited long enough for this. It’s time to see some change.”
The Hurricane will continue to follow up on any developments with this issue.