Dr. Stacy Turner, an assistant professor of English on the University of North Georgia's Gainesville campus, has been selected to take part in a summer institute at the prestigious East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Turner will be attending an institute aimed at encouraging undergraduate professors to incorporate Chinese and Japanese religion, art and literature into their curriculum. Turner already includes the study of international cultures in her classroom, a key part of UNG's mission to develop students into leaders for a global society.
"Ultimately, the institute dovetails closely with some of my own pedagogical goals—helping students understand the beauty and diversity of different cultures with an eye toward understanding how other cultures mimic, enrich, reflect, and challenge our own beliefs," Turner said.
Turner, who earned bachelor's degrees in English and chemistry at Wofford College, concentrated on early American literature, modern American poetry and Asian-American literature while earning her doctoral degree in English at the University of Georgia. She's excited about the opportunity to discover novel ways to integrate Chinese and Japanese culture into her curriculum, as she has long had an interest in Asian culture. In 2004, she spent nine months in Taiwan through a Fulbright Junior Scholarship. While there, she studied and became conversational in Mandarin Chinese and developed a love for the Chinese people and culture.
"As an 'English person,' I’ve read quite a bit in translation from both China and Japan; however, I haven’t had any formalized training in religion and art outside of my own studies. Extending my own breadth of knowledge will assist me in teaching not only Chinese and Japanese literature but also Chinese-American and Japanese-American literature," Turner said.
Upon learning of her interest in Asian culture, Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters, recommended Turner apply for the institute, and he's pleased that she has been accepted.
"The East-West Center has been promoting better relations between the United States and Asia and a more thorough understanding of Asia, its peoples, and their cultures since 1960. Stacy Turner's participation in one of the signature East-West programs will further our institutional relations with the center and will help promote the study of Asia throughout the curriculum," Jespersen said.
Turner hopes to share the knowledge she gains with other UNG professors interested in including Asian culture in their classrooms to help fulfill the university's mission to create globally aware students. Beyond just fostering a better understanding of Asian culture, Turner feels learning about multiple cultures is a great benefit to students in an increasingly global community.
"By bringing art, religion, and culture to bear on our literatures, students will also gain further understanding not only of Japanese and Chinese culture, but also Japanese and Chinese perspectives," Turner said. "This will assist students in any number of situations where they might be faced with difference. Through reading, learning about, and discussing these texts, students develop cultural competence that transcends the classroom to manifest itself in the workplace, during travel abroad, and in day-to-day interactions with those of other cultures."
The East-West Center was established in 1960 by the U.S. Congress and has campuses in Washington, D.C., and Honolulu, Hawaii.