WSU hosts first symposium on undergrad Asian studies research

April 14 marks the beginning of the Columbia Valley Undergraduate Asian Studies Research Symposium at WSU. Although the 2006 symposium is the first, organizers in WSU’s Asia Program hope this is the first annual symposium to promote undergraduate research in Asian studies.

The symposium, which kicks off with a 5 p.m. reception in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, room 518, will include presentations on all regions of Asia, from the Middle East and India to China and Japan, with interests spanning literature, international relations, history and environment. Thirty-three students from WSU, WSU Vancouver, Gonzaga University, and Central Washington University, as well as faculty mentors from these institutions, will attend.

We hope that undergraduate participants will gain a sense of familiarity with the sorts of arenas they will likely be participating in as professionals,” said David Pietz, symposium organizer and director of WSU’s Asia Program. “We would like to introduce the notion of how their individual work, in this case research, is part of a larger network of similar interests. Perhaps the most important outcome will be that the experience afforded by the symposium will instill a greater sense of confidence in communicating their work to an audience of peers.”

Pietz, an assistant professor of history, was a 2005 appointee to the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on United States–China Relations. The program was created to upgrade the quality of American understanding of China.

“We hope the symposium may serve to ignite other collaborative initiatives with faculty and students in the Pacific Northwest in the Asian studies arena,” said Pietz.

Highlights of the symposium include a panel presentation by students from Central Washington University. Funded by a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Grant, their work focuses on Chinese environmental issues. The discussion, titled “Water in the World’s Most Populous Nation: Economic Development, Social Change and Resource Management in Northwest China,” will take place Saturday, April 15, at 10 a.m. in CUE 518.

Cross-cultural influences in the creative arts are the topic of the symposium kickoff Friday, April 15, at 5:45 p.m. in CUE 518. Pei-Pei Hsu, a WSU bachelor of fine arts student from Taiwan, and WSU professor Ann Christenson will present “Under the Same Sun and Moon,” which includes a showing of their ceramic work.

Funded by a CLA Departmental Innovation Grant, all symposium events are free and open to the public. A complete list of events appears at the Asia Program Web site: