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USC U.S.-China Institute receives major Freeman Foundation grant

Foundation support helps the Institute continue its K-12 teacher training program.
January 23, 2009

This article was originally published by USC News.

The USC U.S.-China Institute has received a $567,388 grant from the Freeman Foundation to continue the institute’s extensive professional development program for K-12 educators.

Since 2006, the U.S.-China Institute has worked with more than 350 California teachers and school districts as part of its mission to promote deeper understanding of East Asia’s rich cultural heritage and multidimensional role in current affairs.

“This generous grant from the Freeman Foundation enables the USC U.S.-China Institute to continue working directly with teachers to strengthen their ability to teach about East Asia,” said Clayton Dube, the institute’s associate director, noting that approximately 50,000 California schoolchildren are being taught this year by teachers trained in institute programs.

“Because our workshops and seminars are entirely voluntary and demand considerable time and effort,” Dube continued, “we tend to get the most committed teachers. It’s extremely gratifying to know that these teachers are taking what we provide and using it to expand the horizons of their students. Our impact is immediate, far-reaching and enduring.”

The U.S.-China Institute offers a 40-hour seminar program tailored for the classroom teachers as well as weekend workshops on such topics as “East Asian Visual Cultures” and “Human Rights in Asia.”

Dube, political scientist Stanley Rosen of USC College, Baizhu Chen of the USC Marshall School of Business, USC professor emeritus of history Jack Wills and colleagues from UCLA, UC Riverside and Pomona College have taught in the program.

“For any teacher who has limited knowledge of East Asia, (the seminar) will not only give you the information you need, it will also inspire your own interest in East Asia, and this enthusiasm will show in your classes,” wrote Steve Perez, seminar participant and chair of social studies at Emerson Middle School in Los Angeles.

K-12 teachers who successfully complete the seminar program receive stipends, continuing education credits at the USC Rossier School of Education and grants for the acquisition of East Asia-focused teaching and research materials.

Freeman Foundation support has enabled the U.S.-China Institute to offer subsidized summer study tours. In June and July 2008, 16 teachers from the United States who teach subjects such as world history and language arts traveled to China and Japan with Dube, gaining firsthand experience that they can share with students.

“Americans increasingly recognize the importance of East Asia. Our appetite for news coverage, films and books about the region has grown tremendously,” Dube said. “At the same time, most acknowledge we have a pressing need to better grasp the diversity and complexity of East Asia.”

A national coordinating site for the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, the U.S.-China Institute hosts the online discussion forum “Asia in My Classroom” – currently part of a study about best uses of technology in teacher training. The forum has collected more than 13,000 posts from registered teachers discussing their experiences introducing Asian culture and history in their classrooms.

The U.S.-China Institute also publishes Teaching About Asia, a monthly e-newsletter that reaches hundreds of K-12 teachers in the United States.

Started by Mansfield Freeman, a former Tsinghua University faculty member who went on to help found the American International Group, the Freeman Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the bonds of friendship between the United States and countries in East Asia through support of education and educational institutions.

Click here for additional information about the Institute's teacher training programs and other support for k-12 teaching is available.