Monday, December 20, 2010

Whitworth professor of East Asian history creates semester-long study program in China

As more U.S. employers than ever are looking to hire people with experience studying in China, Whitworth has created a semester-long study program at Beijing's Minzu University of China. Set to begin in fall semester 2011, the program, Whitworth in China, is the brainchild of Anthony E. Clark, assistant professor of East Asian history at Whitworth. The program will take place every three years.

Shortly after he began teaching at Whitworth last fall, Clark began to envision a way for students to study in China. He says that academic experience in that increasingly powerful country is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after résumé items among employers.

"Students in Whitworth's program will see and experience things rarely included in other study-abroad programs," Clark says. "They will be exposed to seldom-seen life in rural Chinese villages, such as those in Shanxi province. They also will travel to Chinese pilgrimage sights rarely visited by Western tourists, such as Wutai Mountain and Pingyao ancient village."

Clark continues, "Everyone who goes on the Whitworth in China program will return with a new perspective. Living in China has a way of re-orienting a person's worldview."

Students taking part in Whitworth in China can expect a challenging academic experience, earning up to 17 credits in history, political science, and a year's worth of intensive Chinese language credits. Outside of the classroom, students will have the opportunity to visit the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and the Forbidden City.

Clark will teach courses in history, including a political history of Beijing and a history of Chinese culture. His wife, Amanda Clark, an adjunct professor at Whitworth, Gonzaga University and Spokane Falls Community College, will teach a course that examines China's famous gardens and temples, which provides insight into Chinese aestheticism and iconography as manifested in Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism. Minzu University professors will teach Mandarin language courses for four hours a day, five days a week.

Clark says the Chinese have often stated that Westerners understand very little about Chinese culture. He hopes the Whitworth in China program will help change this by making students more globally savvy, in addition to equipping them with linguistic and cultural skills that will make them more attractive to employers.

"St. Augustine said, 'The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page,'" says Clark. "I encourage Whitworth students to come to China and 'read' with me."

Minzu University of China has 23 colleges and 55 bachelor's degree programs. With more than 15,000 full-time students, MUC is the only Chinese university in which all 56 of China's ethnic groups are represented in both the faculty and the student body. The university is also one of the more well-known institutions in China for teaching Chinese as a foreign language.

Clark is the author of Ban Gu's History of Early China (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2008) and editor of Beating Devils and Burning Their Books: Representations of China, Japan, and the West (University of Michigan AAS Press, 2010). His upcoming books are China's Saints: Catholic Martyrdom during the Qing (1644-1911) (Lehigh University Press, 2011), and Fairies, Immortals, and Foreign Barbarians: Taiyuan During China's Boxer Uprising, 1900 (in progress). Last August, Clark hosted "The Saints of China: Martyrs of the Middle Kingdom," a 13-episode TV series on Chinese Catholic martyrs.

Clark, who joined the Whitworth faculty in 2009, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, where he also earned his bachelor's degree. He has also pursued language, historical literature and cultural studies at the Central University for Nationalities, in Beijing; the Alliance Française, in Paris; and the National Taiwan Normal University and the Taipei Language Institute, both in Taipei, Taiwan.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Anthony E. Clark, Whitworth in China program director and assistant professor of East Asian history, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4368 or aclark@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703, or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.