The Cornell Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) was established in 1950 to study a region of the globe that is important to the interests of the United States. Its graduates are active leaders in Southeast Asian studies in universities, businesses, and in government and non-governmental agencies around the world. SEAP is recognized as one of the finest interdisciplinary area studies programs for any world region. Throughout its existence, SEAP has placed high priority on training specialists to be professors and regional experts. In order to train these leaders, SEAP created an organization, a comprehensive library, a publications program, a physical infrastructure, and an endowment to support scholarship on Southeast Asia. Over the last fifteen years SEAP's mission has broadened to focus on teaching and training undergraduate students, as well as pursuing the goal of expanding knowledge and understanding of the region through regional and national outreach activities for teachers, elementary school students, faculty from regional colleges, the media, and the general public.
SEAP's nineteen professorial faculty, eleven affiliated and five active emeriti faculty are members of seventeen disciplinary departments. Together with a language faculty of six who teach Burmese, Filipino, Indonesian, Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese, the faculty teach courses that benefit undergraduates from all seven colleges on campus. They also mentor approximately 60 graduate students pursuing the MA and PhD in several academic disciplines.
Apart from its graduate and undergraduate educational endeavors, SEAP fosters academic exchange by organizing and hosting major international conferences on Southeast Asia. Recent examples included symposia on religious movements, avant-garde cinema, and political economies. To maintain the quality of its language program, SEAP has formed a language oversight committee that meets once a semester. SEAP language faculty are also active in collaborative NRC efforts to create national proficiency tests for Southeast Asian languages.
Teacher training, curriculum development, and programmatic activities for K-12 and post-secondary instructors have been the main focus of the SEAP Outreach office. In addition to SEAP's regular outreach activities, its staff will institute an innovative plan to reach teachers at their national and regional conventions. SEAP's Outeach office has recently produced three new curricula units on Southeast Asia for use in local schools. In addition, Cornell's three Asian regional NRC's will host the New York Association for Asian Studies meeting in October 2009.
Important infrastructures that support SEAP's mission include the Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Kahin Center for Advanced Research housed in the historical Treman family home, the world-renown Echols' Library Collection, and the well-respected SEAP Publications Office. Title VI (FLAS) funds, Cornell support, and SEAP's endowed income will allow SEAP to continue to promote Southeast Asian studies not only at Cornell but nationally and internationally.