Missouri State University

Global Perspectives, with a Special Emphasis on Asia

Concept:

Broadly defined, the concept of "Global Perspectives" includes the study of international issues and trends (globalization, democratization, socio-economic development, religious-cultural interaction, international security, environmental degradation, etc.), area studies, and language skills. Whereas the focus of global perspectives may shift because of changes in the political, economic, or cultural contexts, the world in all its manifestations is increasingly interdependent, necessitating an emphasis as broad as possible.

It is anticipated that the university will continue to develop expertise in various regions of the world. For example, the university has emphasized efforts in Asia during the past several years. Asia, comprising such countries as China, Korea, Mongolia, Japan, India and Indonesia, contains more than half the world's population. Confucianism, Buddhism, Chinese traditions, and Hinduism form the core of its shared cultural heritage. Asian states also share a history which unites this region and differentiates it from the rest of the world. Despite our long and intimate engagement with Asia, Americans are often unfamiliar with the area, its civilizations, its customs, and its languages. Since 1945 the economies of the region have grown at an extraordinary pace. The American economy is now intimately connected to the economies of Asia, and they are themselves connected through an intricate web of commercial and financial ties. Despite the growing importance of the region, there are no other Asia programs in Missouri at state-supported institutions of higher education. Missouri State's strength in this area is unique within the state.

Funding:

Examples of major trends and opportunities in extramural funding

Funding in the areas of global and regional research is partially a reflection of politics and global trends, especially when the funding source is the U.S. federal government. In the past, the State Department and other federal agencies have focused on the former Soviet Union and other "socialist" countries, but with the events of 9-11, the continued "war on terrorism," and the growing economic and geo-strategic significance of other regions, a shift has occurred to the Middle East and other critical areas such as Central Asia and East Asia, as well as issues of geo-strategic significance.

Previously, the University has secured and is securing funding from the U.S. State Department (Muskie Fellowships, Contemporary Issues Fellowships, for example) and other government departments (Department of Education). Some departments at Missouri State have also acquired significant funding from private foundations (especially Defense and Strategic Studies) and foreign governments (Taiwan—Political Science).

The University must continue to seek funding from these sources, but a vast array of funding sources is available, including the Japan, Rockefeller, Soros, Freeman, Ford, and Gates Foundations, the British Academy, the East-West Center, and private multinational corporations (locally, for example, the Mueller and Kraft corporations).

For Asia in particular, the Association for Asian Studies web site lists dozens of U.S. and Asian funding sources, and funding sources in these and other areas are extremely extensive and growing at a rapid pace.

Growth:

Examples of areas of knowledge you anticipate will experience the most dramatic growth

For obvious reasons, international security studies may be the most prevalent growth area, but economic and development studies will expand as well, as will research on ethnic and religious conflicts, humanitarian aid, health issues, immigration, and international law (genocide). In addition, growth can be expected in critical area studies (East Asia, India, the Middle East and Africa, the former Soviet Bloc, Latin America) and languages (Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, for example), trade and international economics, and cultural awareness and diversity. To illustrate these trends and opportunities, the U.S. Congress has declared 2006 "The Year of Study Abroad," thereby encouraging requests for funding in this area.

In Asia, growth is expected in language studies, particularly in Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and Hindi; studies related to Asian markets for American goods and services; collaborative studies fostering economic growth; political and policy studies concerning the United States and East Asia; and historical studies, particularly those relating to twentieth century issues.

Unique Resources:

Examples of unique existing resources as well as current needs in Missouri, the Ozarks, and/or Springfield regarding economic development, technological advances, cultural enrichment, physical well-being, and/or social prosperity

In addition to the "hardware"—campus in China, existing exchange programs, Missouri State has the "software" required for the study of global perspectives, with a large number of specialists in international, comparative, and area studies in such fields as archeology, history, political science, anthropology, religious studies and the arts. We also have a growing number of foreign language specialists that underline and support these studies, and we are one of only 43 UN Depository Libraries that allows for extensive research on the UN and other international institutions.

Furthermore, as outlined in a recent story in the Springfield News-Leader, the Ozarks economy is increasingly dependent upon international trade. For example, the local business presence in China has climbed dramatically in recent years, and connections and interests are growing in other emerging markets, including Latin America and Eastern Europe.

The University has also the necessary personnel to expand collaborative research endeavors in such areas as material sciences, agro-business, and international security studies. The new Jordan Valley Center will further strengthen economic and research collaborations between the University and private businesses.

In Asia, we have many collaborations with Chinese institutions of higher learning; access to Missouri State campuses in China; strong relationships between several Missouri State faculty and Taiwanese and mainland scholars; and strong local commercial interests in Chinese and other Asian markets.

Collaborations:

Examples of new collaborations in research and/or learning as well as linkages to the University's existing and emerging research strengths

Investment in "global perspectives" as defined above will lead to better internal collaborations through interdisciplinary activities, external research cooperation, and faculty exchanges that will expand the opportunities for our faculty and graduate students, and attract more foreign faculty, researchers and students to Missouri State University. Other collaborations between the University and other institutions of higher learning and private businesses are emerging or already exist as outlined above. Our teaching education program could also serve as a center of teaching training and research for other schools in the region and abroad. Collaborative endeavors are also planned in international security studies, public administration, agro-business, and agricultural research with universities in Eastern Europe.

In relation to Asia, Missouri State University is a regional center of the East-West Center's Asian Studies Development Program; has a formal affiliation with Beijing University of Technology which establishes the groundwork for future joint projects between the two universities; is collaborating with Liaoning Normal University on the basis of their plant science programs, and an Articulation Agreement for Dual Master's Degrees in Plant Science has been signed; has a formal affiliation with China Agricultural University located in Beijing for friendly cooperation and mutual benefit to further academic relations and international understanding; entered into a formal affiliation for friendly cooperation and mutual benefits with Yunnan Agricultural University, located in Kunming China, and a three-year agreement with Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine located in Shenyang, China, to allow collaboration in the development of joint degree programs in nursing, physical therapy, and other health care-related areas; and there is an exchange program between the Political Science Department and the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Sun Yat-sen University (Taiwan). In addition, Missouri State University and the China Agricultural University and Ningxia Forestry Institute, Co. Ltd. signed an agreement to promote collaboration in the development of joint research and training projects in viticulture, enology and food science; and two agreements exist with Henan Institute of Finance and Economics in Zhengzhou China. The first agreement is a formal affiliation by Missouri State University and Henan Institute of Finance and Economics for friendly cooperation and mutual benefit to further academic relations and international understanding, whereas the second agreement between the two universities is to establish a joint Master of Business Administration education program. 

Strengths:

Examples of building on existing strengths

Research strengths in several "global perspectives" and area studies are substantial, particularly on international security studies, including terrorism, cultural studies, socio-economic and political development, and in such regions as the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Bloc. The publication record of Missouri State faculty in these issues and regional areas includes numerous books and articles in professional journals. Missouri State University is also one of very few institutions of higher learning in the United States which has a land mine studies program and an internationally known expert on land mines.

In Asia in particular, several faculty members have strong publication records on international security and area studies (Taiwan-Chinese relations, Central Asia), religious studies (Sri Lankan Buddhism), socio-cultural studies (social movements in Hindu India) and historical research (China's foreign relations and the Maoist era), and the arts (Indian Art); Missouri State University has a presence in China, Taiwan and India; there is an existing Asian Studies minor; and Chinese (minor) and Japanese language studies are already within the MCL curriculum.

Seven faculty outside of Asian Studies have attended East-West Center summer seminars at the University of Hawaii which strengthens knowledge on and collaborative research efforts on Asia.

Mission Fit:

Examples of compatibility with the University's statewide mission in public affairs

Research and curricular offerings on global perspectives and area studies square nicely with the focus on the public affairs theme of educating citizens who are aware of and knowledgeable in both domestic and global issues and trends, and are familiar with regions and languages outside of the United States and besides English. The ongoing democratization trend also supports the theme of democracy. Finally, the growing global economy and increased levels of interdependence are incorporated into the focus on economic development of Missouri, the economic well-being of Missourians, and the Institution's contributions to the State's future.

Given the population size and rapidly enhancing significance of Asia for the United States, Missouri, and the local communities that experience enlarged immigration from Asia and links with Asian businesses and governments, educating citizens on that area of the world by focusing on its cultural heritage, economic significance and potential, and democratization efforts is particularly important. Thus, the study, preservation, and dissemination of scholarship related to Asia fit into the University's mission of developing educated citizens who are familiar with this region and its relationship to local issues and development.

Education Fit:

Examples of contributions to superior undergraduate, graduate, and professional education

Increasing global and regional curricular offerings strengthens existing programs in area studies (minors in Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Asian Studies, and Chinese), international business programs, and graduate studies (Master of Business Administration, Master of International Affairs and Administration, Master of History, and Master in Defense and Strategic Studies). Collaborative research efforts and exchange programs will also strengthen undergraduate and graduate programs in such disciplines as linguistics and language studies, cultural studies, agriculture, chemistry, material sciences, and health.

An Asian Studies emphasis area will strengthen existing programs in Political Science, History, Modern and Classical Languages, Religious Studies, Business Administration, Finance, and others. There is also a need for a graduate-level program in Asian Studies offered through a public university in Missouri.

Sustainability:

All the evidence available supports the notion that the state's, region's and University's linkages with the global community will continue to accelerate in the future, as economies and socio-cultural and political systems become increasingly interdependent and globalization accelerates. These global trends must be addressed to prevent our nation, state and region and our students from falling behind the rest of the world.

Whereas no new resources may be expected from the state, issues of global perspectives and knowledge of various areas of the world are simply too important to ignore. The University is in the fortunate position that it already has the expertise, enthusiasm, and skills required to train students and conduct research on these aspects. Efforts in the past to raise resources to sustain these endeavors have proven successful, and must be continued and intensified, especially in the absence of significant financial support from the Institution and the State. The likelihood of additional external funding on issues of global significance, including international security studies, knowledge of geo-strategic regions, and critical languages, is highly likely from both federal and international sources.

A combination of increasing interest in Asia, together with strengthening commercial and cultural ties, indicates that programs related to Asian Studies are likely to attract external funding for the foreseeable future as well. The agreements between Missouri State and Chinese institutions of higher learning, together with our permanent campuses in China, facilitate the sustainability of these links and require us to expand programs in Asian Studies.