Asian Studies Program receives the Japan Foundation's Institutional Project Support Program Grant


The Asian Studies Program has received an Institutional Project Support Program Grant from the Japan Foundation, for a collaborative project called "The South Florida Partnership in Japanese Studies (SFPJS) Housed at FIU." This project lasting from 2013-2017 will greatly enhance knowledge and critical analysis of Japanese history and culture through developing an interdisciplinary curriculum and supporting a multi-institutional consortium for promoting research, teaching, and outreach. The project is directed by Dr. Steven Heine, who has been involved in numerous Japan Foundation-funded grants. The SFPJS partners include Florida Atlantic University (FAU), the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, and the Florida Delegation of the Southeast U.S. / Japan Association (SEUS / Japan). The SFPJS also collaborates with outreach organizations including local community colleges, such as Miami-Dade College and Broward College, in addition to the Association of Florida Teachers of Japanese, Miami Hoshuko, and the Japanese Business Association of Miami.

The primary goal is Staff Expansion through the establishment at FIU of a new full-time, tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Japanese History with an emphasis on the pre-modern period and engagement with transnational issues. The faculty member who holds the new position will expand studies of Japan as part of the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Asian Studies Program at FIU, which has been growing rapidly in recent years, and will also enable the SFPJS to create an integrated approach to scholarship, instruction, and service. Additional goals include Curriculum Development through course infusions at FIU and FAU; Research Conferences or faculty development workshops for specialist and non-specialist faculty in History and other departments; Library Support to build the vernacular and digital collections; Publication Support to expand the scope of the Japan Studies Review, an annual peer-reviewed journal; Study Tour or research travel to Japan for faculty or graduate students; and Miscellaneous items, including an external consultant and clerical assistance.

In the last decade and a half, the Asian Studies Program has successfully developed and strengthened its many academic programs and hosted numerous student activities and opportunities by applying for and receiving nearly $2 million in nationally competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Freeman Foundation, Japan Foundation, National Endowment for Humanities, National Science Foundation, and the US-Japan Foundation. Since Dr. Heine became director, the Asian Studies Program has received 10 grants over 20 years, adding up to about $2 million in external funding and creating 6 faculty positions (2 Japanese, 1 Chinese, 1 International Relations, 1 Sociology, 1 History). Additional positions were created in Asian Studies based on student demand (1 Asian Studies, 1 Sociology, 1 Japanese Literature, 1 Chinese Studies, 1 Art History). These positions have stimulated the significant development of Asian Studies in diverse scholarly dimensions. Asian Studies was recently part of an endowment of $1.75 million (with state match) for the promotion of Asian art projects at FIU. Grants received include the following:

Six positions were seeded from external funding:

1. Japanese Language Instructor (1999-2001) – Department of Education Title VI
2. Japanese Language Instructor (2003-2006) – Japan Foundation
3. International Relations Assistant Professor (2003-2006) – Department of Education Title VI
4. Chinese Language Instructor (2007-2009) – National Endowment for the Humanities
5. Japanese Sociology Assistant Professor (2008-2011) – Japan Foundation
6. Japanese History Professor (2013-2017) - Japan Foundation

Five positions were created based on enrollment demands:

1. Asian Studies Lecturer (2005)
2. Chinese Sociology Assistant Professor (2011)
3. Chinese Language and Culture Instructor (2011)
4. Japanese Literature Professor (2012)
5. Chinese Art History (2012)

Other grants received include:

Department of Education Title VI (1997-1999) Curriculum & Professional Development
Department of Education Title VI (2001-2004) Curriculum & Professional Development
Japan Foundation/Center for Global Partnerships (2004-2007) K-12 Teacher Workshops
FIPSE Grant for Promoting Chinese Bilingualism in Miami Dade Schools (2006-2008)
Freeman Foundation (2007-current) K-12 Teacher Workshops

This news story was recently featured on FIU News: Click here to read the article.

It was also featured on the Sun Sentinel on July 19, 2013:
"Japanese culture gets boost in South Florida"
By Scott Travis
Sun Sentinel
South Florida's Japanese population may be tiny, but its influence is large and growing, from comic books to crafts to karaoke.

Teens are enamored with the Manga comic books and Anime cartoons. The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, a popular attraction in Delray Beach, plans to add a Japanese themed hotel.

And now two universities are part of a new South Florida Partnership in Japanese Studies, which includes a $550,000 grant to be used throughout the region. The grant is funded by Florida International University and the Japan Foundation, a Japanese government-run cultural organization.

"Of all the places to be a hub of Japanese studies, South Florida is not what you would expect," said Ian Verhine, 25, who graduated with an Asian Studies masters degree from FIU in 2011.

The grant will be used to expand the FIU Japanese studies program and to establish new courses at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. The effort may also include public lectures and workshops at FAU and Morikami.

Japanese is one of the fastest growing languages for study at FIU and many other universities around the country, said Steven Heine, director of Asian Studies at FIU. FAU had a strong Japanese studies program in the 1990s, "but they didn't keep up the momentum. We're trying to re-energize it," he said.

Only about 3,300 residents in the tri-county region are of Japanese ancestry, half in Miami-Dade County and half spread across Broward and Palm Beach counties. And few if any of the 130 students in the FIU program are of Japanese ancestry.

"But the Japanese culture is strong," Heine said. "The animation, the video games, martial arts, karaoke. They put our students in touch with Japan at a very young age."

At Morikami, visitors can take hands-on workshops in Japanese style art. They can learn how to make sushi or plant a Japanese garden.

"We've been a venue for young people and others to learn more about Japanese culture and acted as kind of a venue or stage for which they can act out or play out their interests," said Tom Gregersen, Morikami Museum's curator.

Retired teacher Sanae Kiejkoa native of Japan who now lives in Boynton Beach, said she's amazed at how popular Japanese studies have become.

She said she was met with hostility 20 years ago when she taught school in Georgia, with some employees referring to her as "the enemy" because of Japan's role in World War II. "It's great to see so many people interested in Japan," she said. "I wish we had more Japanese people down here, but it's so difficult to get from Japan to Florida."