WSU Historian Receives Grant to Explore Initiating American Studies Program in Kunming, China

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University professor of history Paul Hirt will visit the People’s Republic of China in May to explore the possibility of developing an American studies program at Yunnan University. Hirt has received one of the nation’s first Fulbright Senior Specialist grants to support his visit to Kunming.

The American studies program, proposed by Yunnan University’s Foreign Languages Institute, would be the province’s first such program at the graduate level. Enrollment for the interdisciplinary program is anticipated to be about 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate students each year. The development phase would include exchange opportunities for faculty and students at both WSU and Yunnan University.

During his two-week visit, Hirt also will deliver lectures on American history and culture to university students. Hirt’s specializations in the history of the American West and in environmental policy are particularly prized by academics in Western China considering the pros and cons of development for their own western region.

Hirt has led a successful three-year effort to establish American studies programs at four universities in Ukraine. The existing Ukrainian programs also feature student and faculty exchanges, as well as funding to provide books and computers to the Ukrainian institutions. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provided support to establish the programs.