UW-Madison Korean Studies Initiative Advances with Major Grant

DATE: Friday, June 1, 2007
CONTACT: Richard Miller, Associate Director of the Center for East Asian Studies,
University of Wisconsin-Madison, eaassocdirector@eastasia.wisc.edu

Madison, WI – The Korean Studies Initiative at UW-Madison will be significantly expanded, thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Korea Foundation, the Division of International Studies, the College of Letters and Science, and Center for East Asian Studies announced today.

The grant will establish a partial endowment for the creation of a new, permanent professorship of Korean History, beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year. The College of Letters and Science will provide the additional funding needed to support the professorship on a permanent basis.

The Korea Foundation Professorship of Korean Studies will be established within the Department of History and be the cornerstone of a long-term drive to develop Korean studies at UW-Madison to a level of national prominence, as is the case with Japanese Studies and Chinese Studies currently. The endowment will make it possible for UW-Madison to expand Korean Studies to include an undergraduate degree in Korean Languages and Literature and a Master of Arts in Asian Studies with a concentration in Korea.

“We are very grateful to the Korea Foundation for its support,” says Gilles Bousquet, Dean of International Studies. “The Korean peninsula is extremely important strategically and economically, and our students increasingly want to become more knowledgeable about the region, its language, and politics.”

The Korea Foundation, an independent organization affiliated with the South Korean government, is supported by a combination of public and private funds to foster a better understanding of Korea around the world.

UW-Madison’s Korean Studies Initiative is devoted to improving and expanding Korean language and area studies offerings on campus, as well as making resources available to the community through outreach events.

The new endowment builds on earlier support from both the Korea Foundation and UW-Madison faculty and alumni. In 2006, the Center for East Asian Studies received nearly $100,000 to expand Korean studies at UW-Madison, including funds from the Hyuk Yu Korean Studies Fund, named after the UW-Madison professor emeritus in Chemistry who helped initiate a fundraising drive. Professor Hyuk Yu helped advance Korean Studies and encourage support from UW-Madison alumni in Korea and from the Korea Foundation.

“This grant means more than a new direction for East Asian Studies, important though that surely is,” says Louise Young, director of the Center for East Asian Studies and a professor of history. “It represents the coalescence of years of interest and hard work, and demonstrates the vitality that results when an entire university community, including alumni, works together toward a common goal.”

The Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) is one of eight federally-funded national resource centers within the UW-Madison’s International Institute. Founded in 1962, CEAS hosts the majority of Korea-related courses on campus and offers an undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies, an undergraduate certificate in East Asian Studies, and a Ph.D. minor in East Asian Studies with a Korea concentration.

Korean language courses, including fourth-year Korean language instruction, as well as classes in Korean literature in translation and Korean culture and civilization, are offered through the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature (EALL). Several study-abroad programs at Korean universities are available through UW-Madison, which welcomes a steady stream of visiting professors and researchers from Korea during the academic year. Fifteen faculty or other instructors across campus teach courses related to Korea. Approximately 700 South Korean students attend UW-Madison each year. There are more than 1,200 active members of the Wisconsin Alumni Association in Korea.