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Grant to enhance Korean studies program

By : Gail Glover

The Korean studies program at BU will get a boost thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Korea Foundation, heralding significant programmatic development and additional staff.

The Korea Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization established in 1991 to promote international exchanges, mutual understanding and friendship between the people of Korea and other countries.

“We are so pleased and honored that the Korea Foundation has chosen to support BU’s Korean studies program,” said Sungdai Cho, associate professor of Korean and linguistics. “Korean studies are generally neglected in the United States, but this grant will allow BU to be proactive in meeting this need.”

The grant, directed by Cho, will be used to add a faculty member in Korean literature as well as to create a center for Korean studies. The center will serve as a clearinghouse for Korean studies among SUNY colleges and universities, as well as other institutions across the United States.

Cho notes that enhancing the Korean studies program at BU is important because East Asian studies has traditionally represented study of three Asian cultures: China, Japan and Korea. “Missing one of these means that we aren’t offering a true representation to our students,” said Cho. “This grant will allow us to build and strengthen this important program, making BU a leader in Korean studies, not only on the East Coast but nationally.”

According to Cho, the grant also marks a significant turning point for Korean studies in that it strengthens the link between BU and the Korean government. “It is extremely important and gratifying to know that the Korean government recognizes and supports BU’s reputation,” said Cho. “Binghamton University holds a strong commitment to globalization, and this grant will allow us to develop a flourishing center for Asian and Asian American studies, with Korean studies as a cornerstone.”

The grant will build upon the current interest in Korean studies by enhancing linguistic and cultural learning opportunities and activities. Cho said he hopes to establish a Korean major and launch exchange programs with universities in Korea, as well as establish student scholarships. Cho also hopes to form liaisons with BU Korean alumni and host conferences, a speaker series and cultural events.

Provost Mary Ann Swain said the grant reaffirms BU’s strong commitment to Korean studies.

“This grant from the Korea Foundation enables Binghamton University to continue to offer Korean language instruction and area studies about the culture of Korea and Korea’s relationship to other parts of the world,” said Swain. “By supporting faculty the grant also enriches inquiry and cross-disciplinary conversations about Asia as a region, further strengthening our intellectual contributions in these realms.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08