Call for Papers: Workshop – The American University Meets the Pacific Century

Workshop: The American University Meets the Pacific Century (AUPC)
Date: March 9-10, 2012
Location: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Deadline: December 1, 2011
Notification: December 15, 2011

Award: Limited funds to support room and board at Workshop and partial travel vouchers will be available.

What to submit: A 1-2 page abstract of a circa 20-25 page paper that you will prepare for discussion at the Workshop

How to submit: Please submit your materials electronically to Kelley Frazier, kdfrazie@illinois.edu.

Inquiries: Inquiries about the conference should be directed to:

Nancy Abelmann, nabelman@illinois.edu
Soo Ah Kwon, sakwon@illinois.edu
Tim Liao, tfliao@illinois.edu
Adrienne Lo, adr@illinois.edu

Workshop Information

This Workshop will be hosted in association with the American University Meets the Pacific Century Project (AUPC, 2010-), an interdisciplinary team of social scientists who are currently researching the internationalization of the undergraduate student body at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The project is principally interested in the American university as a contact zone in which record levels of international undergraduates, largely from Asia, meet American students whose futures are increasingly impacted by global transformations, the economic and scientific rise of Asia among them.

Participants will present papers (circa 20-25 pages) broadly related to the study abroad of degree-seeking undergraduate students from China and South Korea, relevant developments in those countries, and all aspects of the U.S. as a contact zone.

Below please find a brief synopsis of our own research project; we are, however, open to proposals of all variety.

The American University Meets the Pacific Century Project, in brief

Broadly, the AUPC project is examining how the escalating numbers of international undergraduates are transforming the American university. Many American universities, like top-tier universities throughout the world, are increasingly becoming global institutions, no longer held exclusively to national interests.

This larger context occasions several broad research questions. First, a number of scholars, anthropologist Aihwa Ong and geographer Katharyne Mitchell foremost among them, have alerted us to a veritable cultural warfare as Asian elites find their way to North American schooling. They ask whether the liberal democratic ideals of the American university, including multiculturalism’s commitment to an integrated national community, are foundationally shaken by international students who pass through the American university to accrue the technical skills for flexible citizenship elsewhere. We are thus interested in what American students assume about these new international students and their place in American higher education.

Second, we ask how this trend is shaping American undergraduates’ vision of their futures as global citizens in the broader context of the global economy, and in what some have called “the Pacific Century.” With the widely decried slippage in the U.S. global hegemony in scientific and technological fields and the particular attention to the “Rise of China,” these questions are particularly pressing. Also of note is that while U.S. international student numbers are up, we are in fact enjoying less of the pie of total global student mobility (slipping from 2001 to 2008 from 25% to 21%; while China grew from under 2% to 6%).

Third, we examine the impact of this internationalization on the racial realities of the American university. As globalization accelerates the mobility of people, ideas, and media, one perhaps unexpected consequence has been the rise of what sociologist Karen Pyke calls “intraethnic othering” or the heightened salience of divisions within what might be considered one ethnic/racial group. Preliminary work by the AUPC project has already documented the tense relations between those Asian Americans who find that they are becoming the minority of Asians on their campus, and those international undergraduates, who sometimes see themselves as wealthy, cosmopolitan elites with little in common with local Asian Americans.

Finally, we are interested in what has motivated international students to come to the United States and the reality of their study abroad experience. We consider these students’ future goals, ones that of course are impacted upon by the study abroad experience itself.

With these contexts and processes in mind, we focus on the following research questions:

* What are the motivations and expectations of these Chinese and South Korean international undergraduate students? Are they interested in the liberal and multicultural commitments of the American university? How do their goals change over time as they experience the realities of the American university?

* How do American students understand and respond to this new student body? Do they think of these international students as in any way detrimental to American multiculturalism and liberalism?

* Do Asian American students experience these demographic changes in particular ways? Are they inclined to distance themselves from these newly-arrived Asian students?

* What is the nature and extent of the interactions between domestic students and these international students?

* Do domestic students who aspire to become engineers and business professionals feel threatened by the significant number of students from precisely those countries that represent the greatest scientific and economic challenge to the United States? Are they worried about their professional futures?

* How are university professionals, including faculty, responding to and managing this new student body?

Although Japanese students are not mentioned specifically, if anyone is working on them in this manner, the group would be interested in hearing about it.

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About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of graduate life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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