Teaching Indic Traditions
Association for Asian Studies’ Special Section
on “Teaching Indic Traditions”
in Education About Asia
The Infinity Foundation and ECIT are pleased to announce their intention to assist in the undertaking of the following project proposed by the Association for Asia Studies. This project, which is the production of a special section on “Teaching Indic Traditions” in the Winter 2001 issue in the Journal Education About Asia and its dissemination to educators across the country, will hopefully make a significant contribution toward improving the portrayal of India in U.S. educational curricula.
The Association for Asian Studies (AAS) seeks funding from the Infinity Foundation to assist in the development and dissemination of a special section on “Teaching Indic Traditions” in its publication Education About Asia. This special section would appear in the Winter 2001 issue and would comprise approximately 25% of the issue’s content (or 20 of the standard 80 pages). The section would be interdisciplinary in nature-including articles on Indic culture, religion, literature, history, and contemporary life-and would be distributed to both secondary and university educators.
The Association for Asian Studies is the world’s largest scholarly association in the field of Asian studies. Its approximately 8,000 members include university faculty, secondary school teachers, independent scholars, and others interested in the field, including employees of foundations, museums, and government agencies. The objectives of the Association include:
1) promoting the scholarly study of Asia;
2) publishing scholarly research and other materials designed to promote Asian studies; and
3) enhancing Americans’ knowledge of Asia by encouraging better teaching at all levels of the educational system, from kindergarten through university.
The Association’s commitment to the latter objective is best illustrated by the creation in 1996 of Education About Asia (EAA), a magazine for which the exclusive focus is the improvement of teaching. This publication has been so well received by our membership (mostly scholars of Asia) that, in March 1999, the Association’s Board of Directors voted to make it a permanent and integral publication of the association, supported in part by membership dues. It has been equally well received by pre-collegiate educators, who make up the majority of our subscribers, and has been accorded high praise by leading educators and statesmen, such as Sheldon Hackney, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor of North Carolina. (Please see attachments.) In addition, Asian studies outreach centers across the United States actively support EAA by purchasing copies of back issues to distribute at workshops and seminars and by sponsoring gift subscriptions for participants. Approximately 10,000 people now receive each issue of EAA.
While virtually every issue of Education About Asia contains some articles, essays, and reviews on South Asia, a major objective of EAA has been to increase the amount and quality of South Asia content in our publication. In general, the resource materials available to college and secondary school educators include very little information on South Asia. Students too often leave world history, social studies, or English classes with little knowledge of India-its culture, literature, religion, or historical importance. The project that we are proposing would help to remedy that situation. It would put information on South Asia into the hands of educators most likely to use it in their classrooms, thereby ensuring that their students become more knowledgeable regarding India and its rich cultural traditions.
Teaching Indic Traditions. We propose to develop a special section for the Winter 2001 Education About Asia entitled “Teaching Indic Traditions.” This section will include four to five feature articles and two or three shorter essays which will be interdisciplinary in nature and contain both contemporary and historical material. The authors will be outstanding South Asia scholars and Indologists who are gifted in writing for broad audiences. Our goal will be to select articles and essays that will stimulate American teachers and professors to think about India and South Asia in fresh and more informed ways.
The editor of Education About Asia will solicit manuscripts by issuing a general Call for Papers through various print and electronic forums, and by notifying relevant professional organizations regarding the upcoming special issue. As is the case with every article that is published in EAA, all manuscripts will be peer reviewed by respected scholars in the field. Potential feature articles and essay topics that have been suggested by South Asia scholars, including some who work with The Infinity Foundation, are as follows:
- Common Misconceptions about India and Indic Traditions
- Everyday Life in Ancient India
- Literature and Culture in India: Traditional and Modern
- Guidelines for Course Syllabi Covering South Asia
- Gandhi and the American Civil Rights Movement
- Religion and Politics in Contemporary India
- Using the Internet to Teach and Learn About India
- Editor’s Interview with a South Asia Scholar (such as Robert Thurman, who is active in outreach activities
The topics listed above are intended only to provide examples of the eventual form the special section might take. The final articles will be selected from the best manuscripts that are received, given the interdisciplinary requirements of the section.
In addition to the normal circulation of approximately 10,000, we will distribute another 10,000 copies of this special issue to a broad group of secondary and university educators. Of these recipients, approximately 6,000-7,000 will be selected from the membership of the National Council for the Social Studies and the World History Association.
Complimentary copies also will be mailed to the Development Committee Members responsible for planning curriculum for the Advanced Placement Course in World History, which will be offered for the first time in 2001-2002. (The Advanced Placement Program, sponsored by The College Board, allows students to take college-level courses and exams while in high school, thereby preparing them to excel in their chosen academic field.) National and Regional Officers of the College Board will also be recipients of complimentary copies, as will participants at the AP World History Teachers’ Conference to be held on January 13, 2001. In addition, copies will also be sent to the attendees of the 20-25 workshops that will be given in 2001 to orient teachers to the content and pedagogical requirements of these courses.
Other groups targeted to receive complimentary copies are the national and state officers of the following professional organizations: National Council of Teachers of English; National Council for Social Studies; Geographic Alliance Network; and World History Association. All members of the American Institute of Indian Studies and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies will also be included in the list of recipients.
A subscription form will, as usual, be bound into the magazine. The broad dissemination of this special issue will double EAA’s normal circulation, allowing us to reach more educators and thereby increase the amount of information on South Asia available to U.S. classrooms.
Statement of Need and Expected Outcome
International trade, economic interdependence, and mass communications are helping to make the term “global village” a reality. Yet high school and college history, social studies, and literature teachers who wish to include sections on India in their classes have very few educational materials upon which to draw. The need for such materials is unquestioned, as is the need to provide U.S. high school students with a better understanding of South Asian history, literature, and culture. Without such an understanding, students leave the secondary school (and even higher education) system unprepared for the world in which they will live.
The immediate effect of this project is that it would put an important educational resource into the hands of approximately 10,000 educators, most of them secondary school teachers, who would not otherwise be able to incorporate sections on India and South Asia into their history, social studies, and literature courses. They also would be introduced to Education About Asia, a magazine entirely dedicated to helping educators bring Asia into their classrooms, and through EAA become aware of other resources available to them, such as books, videos, films, curriculum guides, websites, and other educational tools.
Qualifications of the Association for Asian Studies
The Association for Asian Studies is uniquely qualified to conduct this project. As indicated above, our organization is the world’s largest scholarly association in the field of area studies. Our 8,000 members, largely college and university faculty, span all of the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences and represent all of the countries of Asia. Our annual meeting is attended by approximately 3,000 participants who gather for four days of scholarly panels and other activities, and we administer several small-grant programs to facilitate research and teaching on Asia. In addition, the Association has historically published a wide variety of publications. Prominent among these is the Journal of Asian Studies, now completing its 59th year of publication and recognized as the world’s most authoritative academic journal on Asia. Equally well known is the Bibliography of Asian Studies, now offered as an interactive online database with approximately 450,000 citations of resources on Asia.
In conjunction with such scholarly pursuits, the Association has also actively sought to encourage better teaching at all levels of the educational system and to provide educational resources on Asia that will contribute to that end. Education About Asia is one very visible example of our dedication to that goal. When developing the plans to publish this important resource, AAS made the expensive commitment to distribute the magazine to all members, thereby ensuring that each article is critically reviewed by people who are experts in their field. In other words, that important decision helps to ensure the quality of the information EAA presents by providing an automatic “peer review” of each issue.
After five years of publishing history, EAA has become an established magazine, and its subscription base has continued to grow as more educators learn of its existence. EAA’s editorial, design, and distribution staff members are experienced, dedicated, and extremely well-qualified to produce the special sections proposed here.