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Aurora University history professor Dr. Mark Soderstrom selected to attend highly competitive seminars in Hawaii

Posted by on May 10, 2013

Dr. Mark Soderstrom, Assistant Professor of History at Aurora University, has been selected to attend three seminars this summer, each focused on developing teaching skills and enhancing the role of world history and cultures in the undergraduate curriculum.

The first two workshops, the Japan Studies Association Freeman Institute and the East-West Center’s Institute on Infusing Asian Studies into the Undergraduate Curriculum, each help faculty members to more effectively integrate Japanese and Chinese content into their teaching and curricula.

Soderstrom joined the Aurora University faculty after completing his PhD in History at The Ohio State University in 2011. His primary research specialty is Russian history—and, in particular, Russia’s place within Asia. He studied Chinese history as a secondary field while at Ohio State, and has traveled throughout Russia, Siberia, China, Japan and Vietnam. He looks forward to participating in these workshops in particular for the ideas he can gather to improve coverage of Japanese and pre-modern Chinese history in the courses he teaches and is currently developing.

The Japan Studies Association Freeman Institute, an intensive three-week workshop on Japanese culture and history for faculty from two- and four-year universities, will take place at Tokai University, a Japanese university in Honolulu, Hawaii. The East-West Center’s Institute on Infusing Asian Studies into the Undergraduate Curriculum is also a three-week workshop in Honolulu, but it will be held at the East-West Center, a nonprofit organization established by the US Congress in 1960 and affiliated with the University of Hawaii. It will focus on faculty and program development aimed at enhancing undergraduate teaching and learning about Asian cultures and societies. Both institutes will give Soderstrom the opportunity to interact with leading Asian studies experts.

Both programs were highly competitive. Soderstrom will be one of only 10-14 U.S. professors who will travel to Hawaii for each seminar.

“As a professor, it is great to have this kind of opportunity to continue to learn and grow,” said Soderstrom. “I will be able to come back and integrate what I have learned into the curriculum at Aurora University, further enriching the experiences of our students during their time here.”

Soderstrom also hopes to bring ideas back for the East Asian Culture Society, an AU student organization he advises that is dedicated to enhancing the awareness among the Aurora University community of world cultures, specifically those of East Asia. “This is another venue where I can share what I learn,” said Soderstrom.

The third seminar Soderstrom will attend is the Big History Summer Institute, which will take place at Dominican University of California. This unique five-day seminar is designed for university faculty interested in learning and teaching Big History, which attempts to provide an interdisciplinary view of history that combines both human and natural history into a single narrative.

For further information or interview opportunities with Soderstrom, contact Sara Meers at 630-844-5488 or


Aurora University is an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning, annually educating more than 4,400 degree-seeking students at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. The university has a long tradition of preparing students for lives of service and leadership, and using its resources and expertise to meet the needs of the community. In addition to its main campus in Aurora, Ill., AU offers programs online, at its George Williams College campus in Williams Bay, Wis., and at the Woodstock Center in downtown Woodstock, Ill. Learn more at

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