Looking to the East: A New Orientation for the Humanities

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The future of the humanities lies in learning from other cultures; in our case, learning specifically from Asian cultures. We will share knowledge gained from our development of a Concentration in Asian Studies in our History Department and from our recent field trip in China with seven students of literature and history as well as our proposal to prove the benefits of meditation by using it in our classrooms. We will build on the past tradition of knowledge sharing that leads from the Baghavad-Gita to Henry David Thoreau to Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. and discuss how this chain of knowledge has favorably impacted society. After ourselves learning to infuse Asian Studies into the undergraduate curriculum from the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, we were successful at creating a Concentration in Asian Studies in our History Department. Both we as professors and our students were able to become personally acquainted with professors and students from a university in another culture during our 17-day field trip to Beijing, the People’s Republic of China in July 2007. We believe that this kind of familiarity is essential to understanding another culture and another language and leads to benefits for society. As well, we hope to prove the benefits of meditation practice, with its roots in Asian cultures, by conducting classes which will include periods of meditation in the classroom. We will create an assessment instrument to compare the outcomes of these meditating students with the outcomes of students from a similar class who do not meditate. We believe that we can change the direction of the humanities by infusing Asian Studies into the undergraduate classroom and by assisting students to experience other cultures first-hand, both through travel and through practices from another culture.


Keywords: Asian Studies, Curriculum Development, Study Abroad, Meditation Practice, Building on Tradition
Stream: Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Looking to the East


Dr. Patsy J. Daniels

Associate Professor of English, Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Patsy J. Daniels is an Associate Professor of English at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, USA. She was educated in Nebraska and Pennsylvania. Her first book is in the area of Cultural Studies; her work in progress will trace sociological influences on twentieth-century American fiction. She lives in Florence, Mississippi with her husband and daughter.

Dr. Elizabeth Overman

Assistant Professor of History, Department of History and Philosophy, Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Elizabeth Overman is an Assistant Professor of History at Jackson State University. She was educated in Colorado and Mississippi. She has published widely on China and is involved in several other projects, including one book in progress, and is editor of a collection of essays on lynching photographs, "Anthology of Responses to JSU Exhibition: Without Sanctuary." She lives in Clinton, Mississippi with her husband.

Ref: H08P0144