In recognition of the steadily increasing interdependence of the nations of the world, and in anticipation of a new Century of the Pacific - a century in which the world's political and economic center of gravity is expected to shift toward the countries along the Asian rim of the Pacific - The University of Iowa has established the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS). Like the University of which it is a part, the Center has teaching, research, and service missions.
Within its teaching mission, the Center encourages curricular and programmatic innovations designed to strengthen the educational programs of the University in the area dealing with East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
As a research mission, the Center seeks and offers support for research projects designed to generate new knowledge about societies, institutions, and cultures of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, and tries to create reservoirs of expertise on that region of the world.
As its service mission, the Center disseminates information about the nations of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific - their peoples, societies, cultures, political systems, economic opportunities, and everyday lives - to interested persons within and outside the University, and maintains ties with an active network of interested scholars around the state and beyond.
The Center was established in 1986 with the help of a generous endowment gift from E & M Charities and the Stanley family of Muscatine, Iowa, and with the initiative of then University of Iowa President James Freedman. Ever since, the Center has enjoyed strong support from the successive presidents and administrations, and different programs at the University of Iowa.
In its first stage of development, the Center concentrated on strengthening the infrastructure by creating additional faculty and staff positions, by helping various units of the University recruit outstanding faculty, by increasing library funds for Asian collection, and by consolidating and promoting international programs already in existence.
The Center then launched a new initiative, whose major goal was to create and maintain a preeminent interdisciplinary social science program. The focus on social science was designed to take advantage of unusual strengths of the existing faculty and to emphasize Iowa's unique combination of emphases in order to complement established programs on East Asia at other universities. The most important component of the initiative was to increase the number of distinguished chairs from one to three by seeking additional funds from East Asian sources.
The Present and Future
CAPS was instrumental in the appointment of an anthropologist, Sonia Ryang, as the C. Maxwell & Elizabeth M. Stanley Family and Korea Foundation Scholar of Korean Studies, past director of the Center. We have filled the position of the Hua Hsia and Stanley Foundation Chair Professor of Chinese studies with Prof. Wenfang Tang having started the position in 2009. CAPS provided initial financial support to get the Confucius Institute established at the University of Iowa in 2006. Each semester, the Center hosts several scholars from East Asia, who are drawn by Iowa's reputation to carry out their research projects with their own financial support.
The University's current emphasis on global challenges puts the Center in a position to launch another stage of development. With funding from Freeman Foundation, we were able to recruit three tenure-track faculty in different fields (Chinese history, Japanese Religion, and modern Japanese literature). To strengthen our Korean studies area, Jiyeon Kang and Alyssa Park were hired as assistant professorship level to start teaching in fall 2010 and 2011 in Dept. of Communication Studies and Dept. of History, respectively.