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UNG adding Japanese studies program with $400K grant

Japanese Consul General Mr. Shinozuka, center, and Consul Ms. Ohyama, right, visited the University of North Georgia recently. Guided by Dr. John Wilson, left, associate vice president of international programs at UNG, the two talked with university leaders about possible partnerships as UNG expands its Japanese studies program.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) was awarded a $400,000 grant from the Japan Foundation to introduce a concentration in Japanese studies.

The goal of the program is to educate the next generation of civilian and military leaders in the languages, cultures, histories, politics, and the arts of China, Japan and Korea.

This interdisciplinary academic concentration will offer students the opportunity to combine a minor in Chinese, Japanese or Korean language with a regional focus developed from coursework in anthropology, culture, digital animation and film, history, international affairs, philosophy, and political science.

"With the success of our earlier efforts in Chinese and Korean, we are now prepared to develop Japanese language and culture as part of a future East Asian studies degree program," said Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. "UNG is well-positioned to move forward with this expanded academic offering, and with Japanese language enrollment increasing, the time for an integrated bachelor's degree program with three concentrations has arrived."

This grant will provide financial assistance for up to 15 students per year to study in Japan and provide funds for visiting speakers. UNG began its Chinese program in 2006, added Korean a few years later, and has seen considerable growth in student interest in Japanese in recent years.

"UNG has already made a significant institutional commitment to East Asian studies. This grant from the Japan Foundation will move us along in the process of establishing an undergraduate degree by funding three critical faculty positions, creating a directorship to oversee the degree program, augmenting UNG's library resources, providing funds for visiting speakers, and establishing overseas study abroad opportunities for students in Japan," Jespersen said.  

The mission of the Japan Foundation is to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. The Japan Foundation activities follow three major categories: arts and cultural exchange, Japanese studies and intellectual exchange, and Japanese-language education overseas.

"UNG's Japan Foundation grant proposal represents the institution's efforts to build academic expertise focusing on East Asia, as a part of a highly successful and broader initiative at campus-wide internationalization, which will help bring more diversity to the university," said Dr. Andy Novobilski, UNG's associate provost for research and engagement.

With a mission emphasis on preparing students as leaders for a diverse and global society, UNG offers studies in 10 languages. UNG is designated as a state leadership institution and is one of only six senior military colleges in the nation.

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