Michigan State University's (MSU) Asian Studies Center (ASN) is the nation's only National Resource Center (NRC) dedicated to comprehensive Asia-wide educational programming. The decision to create an all-Asia center followed multiple external and internal reviews during the 1990s and periodic assessments thereafter. These evaluations made clear the need for a fresh approach to Asian studies education, one that would emphasize both the diversity and interconnectedness of a key world region. At ASN, the elements basic to this new approach are cross-disciplinary, integrated, and devoted to a rigorous curriculum in Asia's diverse languages.
Since ASN's designation as an NRC in 1999, programs based on these principles have enabled Asian Studies education to flourish at MSU. This is evident in new Global and Area Studies major, an ASN-affiliated Muslim Studies Specialization, and a dynamic Asian less commonly taught languages (LCTL) program; based on new and existing courses in the social sciences, humanities, professions, and sciences. While efforts on campus have improved Asian Studies programs for MSU's students, faculty, and local community members, extensive collaborative and outreach initiatives have brought ASN's educational activities to audiences in other parts of Michigan and the Midwest.
ASN was established in 1962 and from the 1960s its outstanding East Asian programs received recognition and funding from numerous public and private foundations. Changing campus demographics and judicious planning have driven the university's and ASN's ongoing commitment toward ever broader internationalization. Today, more than 70 percent of MSU's international students and scholars come from Asia and nearly 2,500 students identify themselves as Asian-Pacific Americans. In recognition of the need for curriculum relevant to the university's genuinely multicultural make-up, ASN has recruited faculty and secured resources to support an Asia-wide agenda that is diverse, broad, and visible throughout the university.
Courses developed as an integrated, multifaceted Asia-wide curriculum are taught as required offerings in undergraduate colleges and provide the basis for the "Asia track" of new B.A. degree programs. ASN is also participating in designing the "New Residential College's" language and non-language curriculum. This newest college will recruit entering students whose pre-college educational experiences will enable them to benefit from an integrated humanities education grounded in international and area studies. They will also be eligible to participate in ASN's existing Asian LCTL curriculum that provides at least two years of instruction in Arabic, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesian, Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese, and thriving degree programs in Chinese and Japanese.
Among ASN's distinctive programmatic strengths are: 1) 136 faculty members in colleges and professional schools; 2) B.A. degrees in Asian Studies and an Undergraduate Specialization; 3) thriving programs in Chinese, Japanese, and Asian LCTLs; 4) one of the three largest study-abroad programs at any U.S. university;
5) a vibrant outreach program and curricular enrichment through symposia, conferences, film series, concerts, and art exhibits open to all; 6) an Asia library collection that includes more than 230,000 volumes and access through electronic gateways to major Asia collections; and 7) unequivocal support from the President and Provost, who have made internationalizing the curriculum an absolute priority.